I played plastic recorders for years until it was suggested that I start taking pupils at my international school. I realised that a recorder teacher with no wooden instruments would not look very convincing, so I started collecting instruments from Mollenhauer and Kung. The more I bought, the more I wanted, because, as a class teacher, I was able to show them to my music classes and convince them that recorders were not limited to two years of music classes in the lower school. The time came for me to try some modern instruments and the Helder range really appealed to me. I bought the alto because of price and also because my right wrist had been suffering from the weight and angle of larger, heavier instruments.
Here are my pros and cons:
1. There are so many ways to control your sound both in timbre and in dynamic: lip control, changing the front plate to a different wood, moving the block forward or back with the screw, and the piano key.
2. I also appreciated the extra keys and the fact that they both used oboe fingering (with which I was familiar).
3. It does literally sound amazing and I don't ever want to put it away - which is difficult during the blowing in period!
1. It is hard to control the piano key and to continue to play at the same time because of hand position. Perhaps it would be better controlled with the palm of your hand in some way rather than the base of the top finger.
2. Some of the high notes are difficult to achieve.
3. I would like more comprehensive documentation - or even a tutor book that would help you get the most out of the instrument.
4. Just a small point - but, given that this is one of the most expensive recorders I have bought, it would be nice to have something better to clean it out with than just a stick. I didn't appreciate having to provide my own material to attach to the stick when even my cheapest Mollenhauer recorders came with their own microfibre strip to thread into the stick.
… and embarrassing discoveries:
1. I sent it back to the workshop because I was unaware that the joint at the top was fully corked and moveable. When it shifted and I couldn't get the piano key to cover the hole - and it wouldn't fit in the box any more - I thought it was broken. Nowhere does the literature make it clear that you can twist that joint around or pull it apart. It goes back into the case without the top joint coming apart.
2. I was also unaware of the dot on the tone screw that helps you return it to the top, another reason I sent it back to the workshop for nothing!
This is expensive, but of all my recorders it is the one I treasure the most because things I have listed in my 'Pros' far outweigh those I have listed in my 'Cons'. It was worth every penny.