Tenor Recorder Modifications: Bent Neck, Keys, or Both?

If you ever experience discomfort while playing tenor recorder, you may need to find an instrument with modifications or have your instrument modified. We recommend two main modifications to ease discomfort: a bent neck and added keys. As each person’s hand/finger configuration is unique, each player’s modification needs will be different.


Types of Playing Issues

Typically, the problem exists in two areas: stretch problems due to small hands and fingers or flexibility problems due to stiffness or difficulty bending the wrist. If the underlying problem is a stretch issue, we usually recommend added keys either on hole 4 or holes 3 & 4. For wrist flexibility issues, a bent neck usually alleviates any discomfort. Sometimes a player will need both modifications, particularly if tinnitus or arthritis become issues.


Finding the Solution You Need 

To see if a bent neck would help you, try holding your tenor with the mouthpiece at the level of your right ear. This puts the instrument at about the position it would be with a bent neck. At this height your hands are in the position they would be in if playing an alto. If you find that you can reach the holes in this position without discomfort, a bent neck should be the only modification you need. If it helps somewhat, but does not alleviate all discomfort, you may need keys as well as a bent neck.

If the bent neck does not help or does not alleviate all discomfort, you can check to see if you need keys. If right hand stretch is an issue then, with the mouthpiece in your mouth, move your right first finger down about ¼ inch away from your right middle finger. In this position, see if you can reach holes 5 and 6 and the keys on hole 7. To be extra sure, you can tape over hole 4 and see if you can get the lower notes to sound clearly. If this works, you likely only need a key on hole 4. If it doesn’t work, put the mouthpiece by your right ear as described above and try again. You may need a key on hole 4 as well as a bent neck to alleviate your discomfort. 

If left hand stretch is an issue, try the same test described above, this time moving finger 3 up about ¼ inch from your left middle finger. If you can now cover holes 1 and 2, then a key on hole 3 will solve your problem. As above, you can confirm this by taping over hole 3 and seeing if you can make your notes sound clearly. A bent neck is not necessary for hole 3 stretch problems.


Additional Comfort Accessories

If you have made modifications and would still like more options for comfort, you may want to consider a few accessories. Thumb rests can offer more support and take some of the strain off your fingers. We offer snap-on, adhesive, or screw-on adjustable thumb rests. You may also want to purchase a neck strap for your instrument. For ultimate support, we offer an adjustable thumb rest with an eyelet that can be used to attach a neck strap.


Finding the Right Instrument

We carry a number of fine instruments that feature modifications:


  • Yamaha ABS Resin Tenor: The Yamaha resin recorder is a wonderfully durable instrument to have in your collection. It is excellent for long rehearsals or for travel that might put a strain on wooden instruments. We modify this model ourselves and offer it with a bent neck and/or with added keys.
  • Mollenhauer Canta Comfort Tenors: This fine collection by Mollenhauer is designed to create a comfortable playing experience. We sell a variety of models to meet your needs.
  • Kung Studio Tenor: This lovely tenor is available with a bent neck in pearwood.
  • Moeck Flauto Rondo & Moeck Rottenburgh: These collections include a variety of tenor models featuring bent necks, keys, or both.


All other tenor models by Kung, Moeck, or Mollenhauer can be special ordered with keys. We can also install keys on any instrument you send us. Contact us for more information or check out our Instrument Alterations page.


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