Chasing the Perfect Reed – Nordic Woodwind Encounter

July 9th, 2014 by Trent

Our friends at Puchner produced a wonderful and hilarious silent film as a birthday present for bassoonist Magnus Nilsson. We think you’ll enjoy it. Please be aware there is some course language (as there often is when trying to make a reed).

And we wanted to let you know more details about the masterclass festival mentioned at the end of the video: the Nordic Woodwind Encounter. Double reed clinicians include Jonathan Small (oboe), Stefano Canuti and Magnus Nilsson (bassoon). This would be a wonderful opportunity to play and study great music with wonderful international musicians in Sweden. For more information visit or click here to view the PDF flyer.

Extending the Life of Your Bassoon Reed

June 11th, 2014 by Trent

Merz-bassoon-reedBassoon reeds are expensive, either in terms of cost of buying a hand-made reed or in your own time for making your own. If you buy hand made reeds you are paying for not just the raw materials, but the years of experience of learning to make a good reed, and the time if takes to make that individual reed. If you make your own, you know how much effort and skill (and a bit of luck) goes into making a good reed. So naturally you want them to last as long as possible. Here are some really simple guidelines for extending the potential playing life of a bassoon reed.

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Heckel Bocals – New Selection and Specials

May 22nd, 2014 by Trent

Heckel Bocals - New Selection and Specials

Select NEW Heckel bocals are now on special for only $900! These are 100% new A-stock bocals, but in order to encourage you to try something a little different, we’re putting some individual bocals on special. Here’s a full list:

C1Rn (H60) C1s (H56) C2Rs (H59) CC1n (H70) CC1Rs (H71) CC2Rs (H79) CD1n (H65) CD1s (H44) CC1XLn (H69, & H82) CC2XLn (H88) VCC1n (H43) VCC1Rs (H18) VCC1s (H46) VCC2n (H90 & H94) All VCD1 bocals!

Our normal trial policy applies, and shipping rates are not included in this special.

Additionally, we just received a new shipment of Heckel bocals (regular price $1075) and have even more coming by the end of the month. Call for details on what types we have available and for our bassoon specialists to help guide you through a selection process.

We have started keeping straight bend bocals in the most popular bore and metal designs for Heckel, Fox, and Puchner bassoon bocals in our inventory. We are also making Heckel contrabassoon bocals more readily available.

Call Trent or Jessica at 1-800-926-5587 to set up a trial today!

Orchestral Duets for Play Testing and Fun

May 12th, 2014 by Trent

Orchestral Duets for Play Testing and Fun

Whenever I have clients trying new instruments or related equipment, I’m often asked what musical material is good to use as testing passages. For bassoonists I often suggest playing duets from within the orchestral repertoire with the clarinet. Because the instruments have such different tonal characters and tendencies, it can be very revealing if your new bocal, mouthpiece, or instrument, is really giving you the ability to blend, play in tune, and come out of the texture as you need. Two bassoons have the same tendencies and can tend to blend well together, so it’s a less revealing pairing to test with. Since the bassoon and clarinet traditionally sit next to each other in the orchestra, it’s the most logical pairing compared to oboe or flute. Read the rest of this entry »

Identifying Your Plastic Model Fox Bassoon

May 7th, 2014 by Trent

Fox bassoons can sometimes be difficult to identify by sight. With so many models, and with historically sparse labeling, it can be tricky to know exactly what you have in front of you. Some keywork options can make different models initially appear the same, so you can’t go with some of the more obvious features (like, high D key, for instance). With the plastic bassoons it can be easy to identify the model if you know what to look for. Read the rest of this entry »

Standing While Playing the Bassoon

April 24th, 2014 by Trent

If you’re an American trained bassoonist, chances are your first bassoon came with a seat strap, and you were taught to play sitting down with a seat strap. As far as I have observed, this is a purely American way of holding the bassoon while playing. It’s also clearly only something that bassoonists can do – no other instrument in the orchestra or band has a seat strap method of support. The seat strap is nice for sitting in long rehearsals; you get no stress on your neck or shoulders like the saxophonists suffer. Although the disadvantage is clear: there’s no way to stand and play with a seat strap. The positioning of the bassoon relative to your body is going to be different when standing, so making a transition to standing while playing can be difficult for many young (or older) players.

I first started my journey to stand while playing about 10 years ago, when I decided that I wanted to perform all of my future recitals standing. I was tired of seeing my friends on flute, clarinet, or violin able to be so much more physically involved, and have a stronger presence on stage while performing, while I felt stuck in a chair.
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New Fox Bassoon Models in 2014

April 22nd, 2014 by Trent

Fox Renard Model 260 Bassoon

We’re very excited to carry the latest bassoon offerings from Fox Products. With a new semi-professional Renard model and a new professional design, we’re sure that we can find just the right new Fox bassoon for you. Read the rest of this entry »

New Bassoon Reed Making Products from Solution

April 5th, 2014 by Trent

We’ve long been a big fan of the bassoon reed making tools by Italian manufacturer Solution. We just added a few new products from this manufacturer. Drying racks in two sizes (6 and 12 reed), both with a very attractive dark brown wood base, with pins positioned with an efficient use of space in mind and a no-slip rubber base. We also are selling the 12 pin sized rack without pins so you can use your own, or buy the pins separately.

We also have a new diamond reamer for final and precise reaming of the tube.

These and more products by Solution can be purchased online here.

Fox Bocal Information

March 5th, 2014 by Trent

In 2010, Fox introduced a new line of their already very popular double star bocals, the R2. These bocals are even in tone color and responsive across the range. There are some variables to look at when considering a Fox bocal.

All of the Fox double-star R2 bocals start with the letter C, followed by two letters that indicate first the thickness, then the bore type.

T – “Thin-wall” These are similar to the Heckel CD bocal line, roughly .5mm thick throughout the wall of the bocal. The thinner wall means greater flexibility of tone character and typically an easier responding lower register.
V – Standard thickness. Similar to the Heckel CC thickness, with an average of .6mm through the wall of the bocal. Best for stability and more projection.
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Puchner Bocal Information

March 5th, 2014 by Trent

Puchner is historically one of the most well-respected bassoon manufacturing firms in the world, with a history dating back to the early 19th century. Puchner bocals have undergone many revisions through the years, with modern bocals finding their way to many major symphony and concert halls across the country. While other manufacturers have dozens of variables, Puchner stays with only some options that suit the needs of most players.

Puchner-bassoon-bocalThe first letter will indicate the bore, which will be followed by a letter indicating the metal and thickness. All bocals are silver plated. Available in standard lengths 0-3 (equal to Heckel lengths)

There are three bores available:
C – the C bore is the standard bore that offers excellent response in all registers and makes for a good orchestral or chamber music bocal.
B – the B bore has a more focused sound with more “core”, suitable for solo playing.
A – the A bore is specifically designed for high note response, with some sacrifice for the lowest register.
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I definitely plan to send my oboe to the repair techs at MMI in the future. I don't think my oboe has played this well since I've purchased it!