Saunders Recorders

Old Dolmetsch 'School' recorders.

The Old Dolmetsch Plastic Descant (ABS).
(Late Version)

Click the images with blue borders for big pictures in new tabs.

Beak details.
There is a separate block.
The windway ceiling is part of the beak.
Early models had an integral rectangular windway tube.

The first moulded recorders were made of Bakelite.
There were several variations affecting
colour and subtle aspects of design.
They were discontinued in the late '60's

Early ABS models are made of light coloured plastic,
the colour of milk chocolate.
The dark ones have also been branded 'EMI'.
The moulds have been sold and the recorder
may still be available (without the 'Dolmetsch' name).

Rigadoon in C major, Z.653, by Henry Purcell

Click play to hear one of these old ABS recorders,
or use the links below.


The Old Dolmetsch Plastic Tenor (ABS).
(Late Version)

The 'EMI' branded model is the same and accepts the same spare parts.

Spare Parts

I have parts available for this model tenor recorder. (The keys are easily pulled off and lost.) New ones are easily pushed on to replace them. The keys are like shoes and are not identical. To avoid problems with 'left' and 'right' I refer to them as 'C#' and 'C'. Please check the next image so as to be sure which is which.

Old Dolmetsch ABS plastic tenor - foot.

Old Dolmetsch ABS plastic tenor.

The keys are fitted to a 'saddle'. This should have two little 'fingers' that act as springs. These should be checked for cracks before any keys are ordered. Check also for a gap between the underside of the finger and the saddle. (Prolonged storage under pressure may permanently close this small gap and prevent the finger from working as a spring.) I have the 'saddles' and pads as well as a quantity black keys that will fit all. (I have very few keys in light or dark brown.)

The keys come complete with pad. I have a very few screws (foc) if yours is missing. (Other small self tapping screws will do.) Each part is £2.50.

Do not discard a broken saddle. I have new ones but the steel rod in the saddle is not available separately and the saddles do not come with one. However, it is an easy job to take the rod from a broken saddle and fit it to a new one. The rod is 12.7mm long and 1.58mm in diameter. These dimensions are not so strange when you remember that these recorders are about 50 years old and were made in the UK. The 'Imperial' size is 1/2 x 1/16 inch. The diameter is critical. Too small and it will fall out and not hold the keys. Too big and it will not go through the holes. If you enlarge them, to make a larger rod fit, a rod that is too large will break the keys.

Old Dolmetsch ABS plastic tenor - saddle.

An Old Dolmetsch Plastic Treble (ABS).

Dolmetsch ABS plastic treble.

The first 'Dolmetsch' mass produced trebles were made of bakelite, a very hard and heavy moulding material, in the 1940's. Many of these recorders survive despite being brittle and are still used by aficionados. There were different versions and the first were the best. (That's progress for you!)

Later, ABS, plastic trebles similar to the descant and tenor illustrated above became available. When production ceased they were replaced for a short time by the model illustrated on the left, which came from Israel. These were nice instruments with 'soloist' tone. (Similar recorders branded 'Ariel', the factory's brand, were available at the same time.)

As ever, quality control became a problem and this model soon disappeared. Its (Korean) replacement was the 'Nova' treble.


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