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I have been playing the alto recorder for a few years and am teaching myself to play the tenor. I have a Yamaha plastic tenor recorder. Whenever I play the low E note it always is sharp. The recorder is aligned properly, the holes are covered correctly and I'm using very little breath. Does anyone have any thoughts?

  • You might be able to "tune" the recorder slightly by separating it a little bit at the joint between the head and the body. Of course that's limited to the amount you can separate it before air leaks through the joint or it is prone to falling apart. If the recorder is all one piece, then that is an unfortunate consequence of lower cost manufacturing. – Todd Wilcox Sep 24 '17 at 19:50
  • Does your teacher observe the same effect when he plays your instrument? It's possible you're overblowing, for example. – Carl Witthoft Sep 25 '17 at 11:08
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Normally you would be asking if your F is sharp, since that's the note that has more variation in recorder construction. Personally on my wood tenor I have to close both D and C to get it flat enough to be in tune. I'm guessing it's the same sort of situation if you know your blowing technique is fine on the other notes. Try closing the low C and/or C# while playing E and see if that helps.

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It is unusual for a Yamaha plastic instrument to have tuning problems. Some ideas:

  • Give the recorder a thorough wash with warm water and detergent, and use a wooden toothpick to clean the holes to ensure they are not partially blocked. (Wooden recorders are often impregnated with wax that slowly migrates. Not a problem with plastic)
  • Try shading the Eb half hole with your RH 4th finger when playing E natural. This should bring it into tune.
  • E is a weak note on many tenor recorders and may need softer breath pressure to bring it into tune.
  • Try reducing the size of the Eb half hole with blutack or wax. This will flatten the E natural, but will also affect other notes (E natural an octave up in particular). Don't rely on your ear - use an electronic tuner.

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