For over a quarter century, MMI has been serving musicians around the world with expertise in a careful and thoughtful manner. Our staff of conservatory trained instrument specialists and highly skilled repair technicians are here to provide you with the care and expertise that comes from years of performing and teaching.
Choosing the Right Bassoon
June 20th, 2012 by Trent
Picking a bassoon can be a daunting task. Prices range from $3,000 for the most basic models to well over $30,000 for the most in-demand professional instruments. There are also more options for keywork and bore designs than probably any other woodwind instrument. We hope that this guide will give you a more clear picture of what we have to offer as you seek the right instrument for you. We are always happy to speak with you over the phone, so please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-926-5587. Click on the model number of each listing for a link to our store page for that instrument.
If you are a beginner or looking for a bassoon for a beginner we recommend the following models. These bassoons are made with fewer advanced features and polypropylene or less select wood in order to keep the price more reasonable for a beginner. These bassoons are designed with the player in mind for stability of intonation and tone but do not offer the flexibility of more advanced instruments.
For the younger player, the model 41 or 51 is an ideal solution. These instruments are made of polypropylene for durability, consistency and economy but still sounds great. The 41 has the standard German mechanism required to play most of the literature a player would encounter even through the high school level, has a left hand “plateau” key for the comfort of younger players with smaller hands but is missing more advanced keys and rollers. The 51 is essentially the same instrument as the 41 but with some extraneous keys removed and other keys made smaller to accommodate players with small hands. The basic 4 rollers on the pinky keys are standard on these instruments. These bassoons come with two Fox C bocals.
Fox Renard model 222
A step up from the 41 is the Renard 222. This bassoon is the least expensive maple bassoon made by Fox. The natural wood provides a more resonant and classic bassoon tone than the 41. This bassoon is available in several key configurations depending on the needs of the player. The standard configuration is the same as the model 41 but can come equipped with a high D key (model 222D) and the standard ring key (222D+) for the left hand. The same basic 4 rollers are standard for this instrument. The 222 comes with two Fox C bocals.
The Takeda firm is dedicated to providing high quality and fully featured bassoons at a very reasonable price. All Takeda bassoons come in the compact, or “gentleman’s” model long joint configuration which makes the case more square and has a striking look. The model 2 has as standard 6 rollers; the four basic pinky rollers as well as one on both of the F# keys. This model is also standard with a high D, double low C plate and left hand whisper lock. Takeda bassoons come with two Takeda bocals. These bassoons are very fully featured for the price, are very well made and have a great sound.
Intermediate and Advanced Bassoons
If you are a more advanced high school level player, college-bound musician, or a serious amateur we recommend the following models. These are typically made with better quality wood, come with more advanced features and higher quality bocals. Fox bassoons in this category also come with a nicer case including a basic case cover.
The Wolf “Standard” model S2000 is a higher end option for a developing player with long term goals, or advanced player on a budget. We order the S2000 with extra features of High E key and a high A bridge. These bassoons are made of an traditional mountain maple in an attractive matte lacquer, ebonite lined water tubes, 7 total rollers, an extra low C touch piece, left hand whisper lock, and silver plated keys. A hallmark of Wolf’s bassoons are exceptional response especially in the high range, and a sound full of character and projection.
The 220 and 240 are “cousin” instruments made with the same quality of wood and keywork. Standard features include the full German mechanism up to high E, rollers on the pinky keys and on the back Bb and F# with a full “plateau” style pancake key. These bassoons a very comfortable to play and are the standard for high school and college programs across the country. The 220 is based on the original Fox “long bore” design, intended for stability of intonation and response. The 240 is the “short bore” design, intended for more flexibility of tone color and greater projection but requiring more control from the player. Neither the long or the short bore is “better” than the other. We find this difference is something more of a player’s taste, so if you are not sure which one you like we encourage you to try both. Both of these models come with two Fox *CVX* bocals.
Made of a more select wood than the Takeda model 2, this instrument will have a richer sound a more projection. Like the model 2 this instrument is very fully featured for the price, with a total of 9 rollers and high E in addition to the keywork of the model 2. We are very proud to carry this line of bassoons and encourage anyone looking at the Fox bassoons to seriously consider taking a Takeda out on trial.
The Fox model III and IV are professional horn design but made out of the polypropylene material to cut the cost down significantly. This bassoon is acoustically designed the same as the Fox model II (described below). At MMI this is a special order bassoon, so we can have the keywork customized to your liking (and we’re more than willing to offer suggestions) but the standard keywork includes mechanism up to high D (no high E key). The model IV is made with nickel plated keys and without metal bands on the boot joint and bell, so it is less expensive but looks more like a student instrument. The model III includes a right hand whisper lock, has silver plated keywork, and metal support bands to maintain a professional look for a little more cost. When the model III is paired with a high resonance treated wood bell (for an extra cost) the resulting sound is surprisingly like an all wood bassoon. We recommend adding a high E key (and a whisper lock in the case of a model IV) to bring this bassoon up to full professional keywork specifications. Both the III and IV come with two Fox *CVX* bocals.
If you are an advanced player looking for a professional level bassoon we can recommend the following. These instruments are made of the choicest woods and carefully, individually tuned to meet the demands of the most discriminating player. Many of these instruments are ordered in advanced with several options that we feel are required of today’s professionals.
Wolf’s “plus” model comes with the same basic keywork as the S2000 model, with the added feature of nylon washers on the long pivot rods which prevent binding and noisy keys. These are available in three different woods: selected mountain maple, Birdseye maple, and Yew. The wood is given a special treatment and lacquer that bring out the resonant qualities of the wood greater than the standard model, and draw out the visual beauty of the wood more. Birdseye maple is more dense than the standard mountain maple, so it is heavier, and vibrates more like a thick-walled bassoon. The Yew bassoons have a very unique singing tone that may be appropriate for soloists or players that want a more individual sound.
Heckel bassoons have been the standard for professionals for more than century. The modern Heckel, made from Yugoslavian Mountain Maple, has a big sound designed for today’s large orchestras and the most demanding solo literature. These instruments are individually ordered with custom keywork. When we order one from Heckel we choose what we think the most in-demand options will be. If you have specific needs please don’t hesitate to call us to determine availability and cost for a custom order. These instruments are expensive but the world over agrees on the “Heckel Sound” and are well worth the expense and the wait.
If you want that “Heckel Sound” but are looking for more cost-effective and immediately available solutions, the “Crest” might be for you. Each Crest is made with the same options, so shipment from the factory is streamlined. Features include a left hand whisper lock, Ab/Bb trill, A/Whisper bridge and a full compliment of rollers in addition to the standard German mechanism up to high E. We service each one in our shop to make sure they are ready right “out-of-the-box”. These come with one Heckel CD1 bocal, but you are free to try from our selection of Heckel bocals in stock to find one that is the right fit.
The Joseph Püchner firm has been making bassoons since 1897. Recently re-designed, the modern Püchner is a match for any other maker for the demanding player. All of the professional Püchner bassoons are made of Curly Mountain Maple that has been aged for at least 18 years and given a thorough oil treatment in that time. The bore design is the same between these two models with a few differences that effect the ergonomics and sound of the instruments. The model 4000 (or model Jubilee) has hard rubber lined tone holes, 9 rollers, standard mechanism up to high E, A/Whisper bridge and left hand lock. The left side of the boot joint is unlined. The 5000 (model 23) has all the features of the 4000 as well as a full compliment of 13 rollers, Ab/Bb trill, and partially lined left side of boot joint. The 5000 is also available in an “Antique” finish and in the divided long joint “Gentleman’s” model. Please call to see what we have currently available or on order. These come with two Püchner bocals, and you can choose from our selection of Püchner bocals we have in stock if you would like.
The professional line of Fox bassoons has been a standard in the United States for over 40 years. These bassoons are made of the most select wood and treated for the highest resonance. The model II and 601 are the long bore instruments, designed with stability of intonation and tone and ease of playing in mind. The 201 and 660 are the short bore instruments with slightly higher pitch, and more flexibility of sound. The model II and the 201 are the thin-wall design, well suited for orchestral players but especially well suited for chamber music. The 601 and 660 are the thick-wall instruments with today’s modern orchestral player in mind.
|Fox Pro Bassoon Matrix||Thick Wall||Thin Wall|
|Long Bore||601||I and II|
|Short Bore||660||101 and 201|
All of these models are available in the classic Mountain Maple or in Red Maple. The Red Maple option is more expensive but we have noticed a strong preference for that wood from more discerning players. We typically order each professional Fox with a few “extras” such as an A/Whisper bridge, left hand Eb trill, and Ab/Bb trill. Please call us to discuss what we currently have available. If you have specific keywork needs we can have a stock instrument customized for you after purchase. Please call us to discuss pricing for custom keywork. The model I and 101 are the same as the model II and 201, respectively, but with the addition of extra rollers. These bassoons come with Fox double-star bocals, and upon purchase if you would like to try from our stock of Fox bocals you are welcome to do so at no extra cost.