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STL Element Ocarinas; Fire, Water, Earth, maybe Air?
Topic Started: 5 Mar 2016, 11:52 PM (8,154 Views)
BigC
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When you're STL, You're STL 4 Life!!!

That's pretty cool Enterall144! I play my ocarina at the church we go to during our special needs ministry for praise and worship every sunday.
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LicoriceLoon
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Pendant Ocarinist
For years I've played a Susato rosewood 5-hole Ocarina. I finally bought a 12-hole ocarina this Christmas: STL's water element. I'm not a novice musician (I play a large variety), but they all have more definite tuning than the ocarina. Learning to play in pitch is challenging. I've recently downloaded a tuner app, and it shows that most of the notes on this water ocarina are considerably flat. Is that common for this ocarina? The Susato one was always a bit sharp, but in tune with itself. It was also extremely shrill and I would only play it on hikes by myself. I was hoping for more with this ocarina. I'm used to some variance, but this 12-hole has grooves at the fingering holes, making seals difficult. I wouldn't recommend it for a novice (me!) haha! Curiously, the low A is very sharp. With the low B being flat, and the low A being sharp, they sound like the same sour note! Any tips playing it? I'm looking for help playing in tune (if I have control over that) and making better seals on this beauty. When I try to play along with STL's water YouTube demo, it sounds like hers is in a different key. Frustrated.
Mark Chan
12 Sep 2016, 02:58 PM
I tried it. Was not impressed. Especially not with the subnotes. The one I tried didn't seem to have properly working subholes. I'd suggest you get the Aria SG if you want a good SG from STL. The only element ocarina that I liked was the Water one.
I wish I had discovered this forum before spending $70 on the Water one. I'm having a very difficult time with the subholes for the lower two notes. I imagine as I become a better player, this will become easier, but the high F is often off pitch and weak, and the low A & B sound terrible. I might have been better off with a different starter. The girl playing it on the demo sure makes gorgeous music with it, though. I'm afraid I sound like a sick cow, even if I turned up the reverb like on that demo video. C:
Edited by LicoriceLoon, 18 Jan 2017, 01:29 AM.
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EriChanHime
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Inline Ocarinist x 4
Just a quick update, since I did cave and buy the "Earth" in Tenor F. I love it, although it's by far my heaviest ocarina. I totally feel like I'm playing music on a dinosaur, which amuses me. The tone is lovely, and while it definitely has a rising breath requirement, it is playable through its entire range. I appreciate that the lower tone is kinder to my ears, and likely my neighbors, too. I waited for their special 20% off coupon at the end of last year, so the price wasn't too bad, especially for the solid piece of ceramic you get. I am very pleased to own it.
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jordan.1210
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Transverse Ocarinist x 3
Thanks for the update. I've been looking at the Element ocarina series since I got into ocarinas last January and I've always liked how the Water, Fire, and Earth looked. I got the Fire and enjoy how it plays but I haven't been able to go back and get the other two and maybe the Lightning. Glad to see that they play well.
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BigC
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When you're STL, You're STL 4 Life!!!

The elemental series is the best set of ocarinas STL has ever made!!!
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Davometric
Beginner
Im a total newbie at the ocarina but after reading this forum, i purchased the water element. Some people have said that its not a good starting ocarina as some holes are on the grooves. Im not hesistant to buy another ocarina to learn on (then switch to the water ocarina). So my question is this: should i buy a beginner friendly ocarina (i previously owned one of those cheap ebay zelda replicas haha) to practice with or just practice tonnes on the water ocarina since its on its way? Thanks in advance!
Edited by Davometric, 25 Feb 2017, 10:11 PM.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
Davometric
25 Feb 2017, 09:56 PM
Im a total newbie at the ocarina but after reading this forum, i purchased the water element. Some people have said that its not a good starting ocarina as some holes are on the grooves. Im not hesistant to buy another ocarina to learn on (then switch to the water ocarina). So my question is this: should i buy a beginner friendly ocarina (i previously owned one of those cheap ebay zelda replicas haha) to practice with or just practice tonnes on the water ocarina since its on its way? Thanks in advance!
My suggestion based on my own experience, I would wait and try out the one you already bought. You are probably going to have to practice getting used to it either way and it doesn't really hurt to start off practicing it. You will probably end up buying another ocarina eventually anyways. I would suggest seeing what you like and dislike about the one you got so at least your next purchase is a little more educated and you know a little more about what you like and what to look out for.
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Saki
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Surprisingly not dead
The grooves will only be a problem on low A, which will not be needed in 99% of songs. You will be fine with the one you bought.
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CFWhitman
Initiate
Davometric
25 Feb 2017, 09:56 PM
Im a total newbie at the ocarina but after reading this forum, i purchased the water element. Some people have said that its not a good starting ocarina as some holes are on the grooves. Im not hesistant to buy another ocarina to learn on (then switch to the water ocarina). So my question is this: should i buy a beginner friendly ocarina (i previously owned one of those cheap ebay zelda replicas haha) to practice with or just practice tonnes on the water ocarina since its on its way? Thanks in advance!
Some people seem to think that getting a "beginner" ocarina means start out with a crummy ocarina, and then get a good one later. That's not really how I feel about it. To me there are three considerations to a beginner ocarina: price, durability, and competence. I would generally try to get the best playing ocarina I could for a first one (competence), while taking into consideration my budget and the possibility of it getting broken. If you are confident that you won't break a ceramic ocarina then you can go ahead and get one, but it is not a bad idea to have a good plastic ocarina available to take with you on occasions when you don't want to deal with the fragility of a ceramic ocarina (you can also get a wooden ocarina for this purpose, though they require more care than either a plastic or ceramic).

The one thing I would hesitate to give too much consideration to when choosing a beginning ocarina is style. It seems to me that STL tends to push style over substance a bit with their ocarinas and the promotion of them. Of course, part of the reason for that is that you don't really need more than one or two variations of any given ocarina key, so pushing people to collect helps them sell more ocarinas. Some other makers are not totally above this type of thing either.

I would say that as a beginning ocarina, either try to get one of the best plastic ocarinas that you can (a good plastic ocarina will be cheap, durable, and competent, so you hit all three points), or go with a reasonably inexpensive ceramic ocarina that has a reputation for playing well (there are some wooden ones that you might consider, though the inexpensive ones are inline). If I were limited to choosing from STL, I would probably start out either with their basic plastic ocarina (the one in seven colors), which seems to have a decent reputation, especially for the price, or go for the Aria C ocarina for having the best reputation of their ceramic ocarinas under a hundred dollars (it seems to be on sale right now, though its regular price used to be cheaper). I have not actually played either of these, so I'm only going by reputation.

Of course, you have already purchased the water element ocarina. It is not bad advice to try to learn how to play the one you already have, even if it is a bit more challenging, especially if you are determined to learn it well eventually.
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Daniel
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Double Ocarinist x 3
I suggest Night by Noble as the best beginner ocarina. Relatively inexpensive yet very good. I think a lot of people have it, and that makes it easier to talk about what you do or don't like about certain things when you go to get your next one. Then ditch 12-holes and get a 10-hole from Giorgio Cataldi :)
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Davometric
Beginner
Thanks guys for the positive reinforcement! Ill try this one out before making any desicions and i hope that it feels as good as people say and plays like everyone says hahaa
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BigC
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When you're STL, You're STL 4 Life!!!

The water element is my personal favorite!
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LicoriceLoon
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Pendant Ocarinist
LicoriceLoon
18 Jan 2017, 01:11 AM
For years I've played a Susato rosewood 5-hole Ocarina. I finally bought a 12-hole ocarina this Christmas: STL's water element. I'm not a novice musician (I play a large variety), but they all have more definite tuning than the ocarina. Learning to play in pitch is challenging. I've recently downloaded a tuner app, and it shows that most of the notes on this water ocarina are considerably flat. Is that common for this ocarina? The Susato one was always a bit sharp, but in tune with itself. It was also extremely shrill and I would only play it on hikes by myself. I was hoping for more with this ocarina. I'm used to some variance, but this 12-hole has grooves at the fingering holes, making seals difficult. I wouldn't recommend it for a novice (me!) haha! Curiously, the low A is very sharp. With the low B being flat, and the low A being sharp, they sound like the same sour note! Any tips playing it? I'm looking for help playing in tune (if I have control over that) and making better seals on this beauty. When I try to play along with STL's water YouTube demo, it sounds like hers is in a different key. Frustrated.
Mark Chan
12 Sep 2016, 02:58 PM
I tried it. Was not impressed. Especially not with the subnotes. The one I tried didn't seem to have properly working subholes. I'd suggest you get the Aria SG if you want a good SG from STL. The only element ocarina that I liked was the Water one.
I wish I had discovered this forum before spending $70 on the Water one. I'm having a very difficult time with the subholes for the lower two notes. I imagine as I become a better player, this will become easier, but the high F is often off pitch and weak, and the low A & B sound terrible. I might have been better off with a different starter. The girl playing it on the demo sure makes gorgeous music with it, though. I'm afraid I sound like a sick cow, even if I turned up the reverb like on that demo video. C:
I'd love some feedback on my OP from anybody who's played the STL Water Element. It's terribly out of tune. I've tried playing with a tuner, and I can't seem to pitch the note sharp enough to match. Any tips on playing this ocarina? Are these STL elements usually so variant in tuning? I have no experience whatsoever with clay ocarinas, so your input would be most appreciated. Also, is it common for the notes to change depending on the temperature of the room? I've noticed it's flatter when its colder.
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Amerred
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Can't play pendants
STL ocarinas were known to have some (uncommon) quality control issues, but that was quite a long time ago. I cannot say whether or not it is the ocarina's fault. I will tell you that the tuning of the ocarina - as well as the tuning of pretty much every other instrument - will be at least marginally affected by changes in temperature (especially more drastic ones). I would suggest changing your breath pressure. Especially since you seem to have trouble with notes being flat and your post and picture indicate more experience with wooden ocarinas, I will say that wooden ocarinas tend to have much lower breath requirements than ceramic ones. One of the biggest determinants in ocarina intonation is air pressure, so I would suggest experimenting with that, like I said, and, if I had to guess, trying to increase it (higher pressure will generally make the note sharper, less will make the note flatter). You don't necessarily have to make it play loud, but just... firm, with fast air. I hope this will help you. I think, anyway, that if the ocarina on the whole is generally flat, it might be a breath pressure thing. If the notes follow no particular pattern in tuning problems, then perhaps it really is a problem with the manufacturing. If it really comes down to it, I believe that STL's customer support has improved greatly in the last couple years, I think.
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LicoriceLoon
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Pendant Ocarinist
Amerred
4 Mar 2017, 02:06 PM
STL ocarinas were known to have some (uncommon) quality control issues, but that was quite a long time ago. I cannot say whether or not it is the ocarina's fault. I will tell you that the tuning of the ocarina - as well as the tuning of pretty much every other instrument - will be at least marginally affected by changes in temperature (especially more drastic ones). I would suggest changing your breath pressure. Especially since you seem to have trouble with notes being flat and your post and picture indicate more experience with wooden ocarinas, I will say that wooden ocarinas tend to have much lower breath requirements than ceramic ones. One of the biggest determinants in ocarina intonation is air pressure, so I would suggest experimenting with that, like I said, and, if I had to guess, trying to increase it (higher pressure will generally make the note sharper, less will make the note flatter). You don't necessarily have to make it play loud, but just... firm, with fast air. I hope this will help you. I think, anyway, that if the ocarina on the whole is generally flat, it might be a breath pressure thing. If the notes follow no particular pattern in tuning problems, then perhaps it really is a problem with the manufacturing. If it really comes down to it, I believe that STL's customer support has improved greatly in the last couple years, I think.
Thanks for the reply. It is true that I am used to playing the wooden ocarina for years, but I also play the recorder, pennywhistle, harmonica, etc. Recently picked up the clarinet again. I am familiar with temperature affecting the instrument. That's why I warm up my harps and whistles before playing them. I do the same with the ocarina, but warm breath doesn't have the same affect on ceramic. c: I've tried adjusting pitch through air pressure and angle. I can't get the water element ocarina to play in tune. If accompanied by a tunable instrument, I'm sure the ocarina would sound lovely, but even on its own it sounds sour as I move up and down the scale.

Maybe I will contact STL, but I have a TNG Alto C 6 hold plastic ocarina. It sounds flat as well, whereas the Susato is on the sharp side by half a cent. I'm not entirely sure it's me. Any suggestions on how to rule out me as the problem before I contact STL? Obviously, they'll want to blame me. haha
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
LicoriceLoon
4 Mar 2017, 11:24 PM
Amerred
4 Mar 2017, 02:06 PM
STL ocarinas were known to have some (uncommon) quality control issues, but that was quite a long time ago. I cannot say whether or not it is the ocarina's fault. I will tell you that the tuning of the ocarina - as well as the tuning of pretty much every other instrument - will be at least marginally affected by changes in temperature (especially more drastic ones). I would suggest changing your breath pressure. Especially since you seem to have trouble with notes being flat and your post and picture indicate more experience with wooden ocarinas, I will say that wooden ocarinas tend to have much lower breath requirements than ceramic ones. One of the biggest determinants in ocarina intonation is air pressure, so I would suggest experimenting with that, like I said, and, if I had to guess, trying to increase it (higher pressure will generally make the note sharper, less will make the note flatter). You don't necessarily have to make it play loud, but just... firm, with fast air. I hope this will help you. I think, anyway, that if the ocarina on the whole is generally flat, it might be a breath pressure thing. If the notes follow no particular pattern in tuning problems, then perhaps it really is a problem with the manufacturing. If it really comes down to it, I believe that STL's customer support has improved greatly in the last couple years, I think.
Thanks for the reply. It is true that I am used to playing the wooden ocarina for years, but I also play the recorder, pennywhistle, harmonica, etc. Recently picked up the clarinet again. I am familiar with temperature affecting the instrument. That's why I warm up my harps and whistles before playing them. I do the same with the ocarina, but warm breath doesn't have the same affect on ceramic. c: I've tried adjusting pitch through air pressure and angle. I can't get the water element ocarina to play in tune. If accompanied by a tunable instrument, I'm sure the ocarina would sound lovely, but even on its own it sounds sour as I move up and down the scale.

Maybe I will contact STL, but I have a TNG Alto C 6 hold plastic ocarina. It sounds flat as well, whereas the Susato is on the sharp side by half a cent. I'm not entirely sure it's me. Any suggestions on how to rule out me as the problem before I contact STL? Obviously, they'll want to blame me. haha
Some ocarinas just have a high breath requirement. I would gradually blow harder and see if it is still flat before it squeaks (assuming it doesn't get in tune before squeaking) . I still have a hard time switching to a wood ocarina because of the dramatic breath cut. If it is still flat, STL should work with you, but most likely will require a sound sample. If they require a sound sample though, I would send a video with the tuner so they can see that it is flat. They gave me problems last time I contacted them with a bad ocarina and told me "an expert said it sounded fine" even though it very very clearly didn't. I had to send them a second sample of what it SHOULD sound like and make them compare it before they would do anything. In the end they sent a replacement and was otherwise simple, but I really wonder about their "expert" :S
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Bateleur
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Meh.

Whenever someone online mentions that they're having difficulty playing their STL ocarina in tune, inevitably STL's quality comes into question. I agree with Kae. If it's playing flat, use stronger breath.

STL's ocarinas are a good jump in breath requirement above recorders and whistles, though not as much as clarinets. I haven't played a Susato ocarina before, though I get the feeling that they use less breath than a soprano recorder. Playing flat is by far the most common problem for people new to transverse ocarinas.
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BigC
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When you're STL, You're STL 4 Life!!!

Hey don't you dare bash STL's excellence Key! They are the best of the best of the best!
Edited by BigC, 6 Mar 2017, 06:29 AM.
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LicoriceLoon
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Pendant Ocarinist
Kae, Bateleur Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely give those suggestions a shot. If I can't make a difference in it's pitch today, I'll start the process with STL. I'm blowing it fairly hard, however. But if playing flat is the most common newbie problem, the problem is likely me. It's otherwise a very gorgeous instrument.
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CFWhitman
Initiate
I have several ocarinas, a soprano recorder, and a high D pennywhistle. The only ocarina that is somewhere near the recorder and the pennywhistle (at least in the low octave) in how softly you have to blow is my Hind obelisk tenor F ocarina. Some other ocarinas I have are the Night by Noble alto C, a Hamlett alto C, a Songbird alto C harmony triple, a Songbird (Focalink) soprano G double, a Pure Ocarinas alto D double, a Mountain Ocarinas soprano G, and a Claudio Colombo Bass C triple. All of those are significantly higher breath pressure than a recorder or pennywhistle (especially the Night by Noble, the Songbird soprano G, and the Mountain soprano G).

Of course, none of that is a guarantee that you are not blowing hard enough on the STL Water ocarina. Following Kae's advice is how to find out (Does it play in tune sometime before it squeaks ?).
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LicoriceLoon
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Pendant Ocarinist
CFWhitman
6 Mar 2017, 05:59 PM
I have several ocarinas, a soprano recorder, and a high D pennywhistle. The only ocarina that is somewhere near the recorder and the pennywhistle (at least in the low octave) in how softly you have to blow is my Hind obelisk tenor F ocarina. Some other ocarinas I have are the Night by Noble alto C, a Hamlett alto C, a Songbird alto C harmony triple, a Songbird (Focalink) soprano G double, a Pure Ocarinas alto D double, a Mountain Ocarinas soprano G, and a Claudio Colombo Bass C triple. All of those are significantly higher breath pressure than a recorder or pennywhistle (especially the Night by Noble, the Songbird soprano G, and the Mountain soprano G).

Of course, none of that is a guarantee that you are not blowing hard enough on the STL Water ocarina. Following Kae's advice is how to find out (Does it play in tune sometime before it squeaks ?).
Thanks for the reply. I decided to sell it. No matter how much I bent the pitch and blew, the STL Water was off key by a few cents across the entire scale. I should have trusted my instincts and asked for a replacement last January. By May, it was too late. I replaced it with a Stein Osawa Tenor and Soprano. They're plastic, and have condensation issues that need to be fixed with dish soap, but they play in tune and I like them. (No, they don't resonate the same way as clay, but I'll take in-tune over deep resonation any day. Besides, they have their own charm, and that soprano sounds like birdsong.) I told the person that I sold the Water to that the ocarina was in-tune with itself, but would need to play with other instruments capable of tuning to it. They loved it.

I'm not swearing off STL. They make lovely instruments, but concert tuning is important to me. I've played recorders and pennywhistles for two decades. Some note shaping has to be done on the fly. What makes a pro sound so good on those instruments is that they sweeten the notes to stay on pitch, but the STL Water I had was simply out of tune, period. I took everyone's advice here and blew my brains out on that thing. It was sour all around. I've been playing woodwinds for years, and I'm no sluff when it comes to air. There was just too much sour to sweeten.
Edited by LicoriceLoon, 5 Jun 2017, 07:21 AM.
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