|Renaissance recorders are based loosely on instruments in use before the late 17th century or so. They are well suited to consort playing and blending in a group. They have a wide bore and wide finger holes, and generally have a strong, solid, loud sound. Bit the volume they gain from the wide bore comes at the price of range and chromatic facility. Renaissance recorders generally do not play as easily up high as Baroque recorders do, and frequently do not have as wide a range. However, this is not a problem in Renaissance literature, which was written with the limitations of the instruments in mind. Renassance music also tends not to modulate as much into distant keys or require as many chromatic notes.
Because metal keywork was expensive and difficult to make in the Renaissance, it is kept to a minimum on modern reproductions. Furthermore, Renaissance instruments frequently require holes to be half-covered or "shaded" for proper tuning, which is impossible with keys. Because of the larger tone holes, lack of keywork, and the lack of a separate adjustable foot joint, larger Renaissance recorders are frequently more difficult to reach than their Baroque counterparts.
Softer woods such as maple, pear, and cherry are common for Renaissance instruments. This is partly because original instruments were made of woods such as these, but also because Renaissance instruments need to be made in the large single pieces that are difficult to find in the more exotic woods. In the case of larger instruments, weight also becomes an issue, and a lighter wood therefore makes playing much more comfortable.
Renaissance instruments are frequently designed in matching families, so that all of the instruments will match well and blend with each other. Renaissance consorts frequently include altos in the key of G instead of or in addition to altos in the key of F.
Also in the category of Renaissance instruments are Transitional instruments and Ganassi instruments. Transitional instruments represent a transition between Renaissance and Baroque styles. They generally have standard Baroque fingerings for the full two octaves, but retain the volume and wide bore of Renaissance instruments. Ganassi instruments are based on the charts for fingerings and ornamentation in Sylvestro di Ganassi's "Fontegara". They too have a range of over two octaves, but usually require different fingerings for the high notes that contain lots of half-covered or shaded holes. These are better suited as solo instruments than ensemble instruments, and are used for virtuosic repertoire such as the complex divisions of Bassano and Dalla Casa, the unaccompanied variations in van Eyck's "Der Fluyten Lust-hof", and the sonatas and canzonas of 17th century composers such as Frescobaldi, Castello, and Cima.