Featured Bassoon of the Week--Fox 680 #56XXX

I’m just a young whippersnapper at only 5 years old!  My physical health has been given an A+ after my recent checkup with the bassoon doctor and I’m ready to run my next scale and etude practice marathon.   I have a powerful voice that projects very well, yet still I’m quite flexible.  If you are looking for a partner to help you keep up with the levels of the trombones and trumpets in group settings, I’m the one for you! I also have an Ab-Bb trill key for pesky passages in the Ravel Piano Concerto or the Mozart Bassoon Concerto. My right hand Eb trill key will make trilling your next favorite activity after scale and etude marathons! 😉

My dream match is a new Fox B2 bocal--I know we would make the perfect pair!! (I also really like matching with a Heckel bocal!)  Are you ready for your next bassoon marathon?  Take me home and let me show you how I can make your bassoon playing so much more enjoyable and fun! (And if you do, ask Nick to send one of my preferred bocals, too!)

For more information and photos:  https://www.mmimports.com/product/used-fox-680-56xxx-bassoon/

Featured Bassoon of the Week--Fox 201 #19XXX

Fox 201 #19XXX

I was born in 1993 and am looking for my new home!  I would make a great addition for anyone looking to upgrade from a Fox Renard bassoon.  If you like ease of articulation and lots of flexibility, then I am the right bassoon for you!  I just had a full service done in the repair shop, and I’m paired well with a Heckel CC2 bocal.  I don’t come with a lot of extra keywork, but I do have a nifty low C plate that will make low register playing extremely fun! I really enjoy it when you practice, so please don’t leave me alone for very long in my case.  Will you help me find my forever home?

For more information and photos:  https://www.mmimports.com/product/used-fox-201-19xxx/

Introducing Opinel Folding Utility Knives for Reedmaking

Recent trends in the world of bassoon reeds have introduced one of the great debates for a new reed-maker: knife or file? There are many advantages to both tools; while files can remove cane very quickly over a broader surface area, a sharp knife is able to make a precision scrape without compromising the structure of the blade to the same extent. Knives do, however, require more time to master the skill of scraping.

The other main issue with today's reed knives is the cost. The most recommended type of blade is the double hollow ground, which even at MMI will run you at least $40. With the cost of bassoons already so high, a young initiate to the world of reeds can't help but question the wisdom of the choices they've made. Personally, I balked at first at the cost of reed equipment and very often it still shocks me how costly some tools are.

Enter the Opinel knife

Opinel is a French knife manufacturer that produces quality blades for all types of purposes, from regular table knives to steak and chef's knives, as well as outdoor knives for camping, hunting, and much more. The blades are made of either carbon or stainless steel. The handles of most of their products are made of high quality wood and feel comfortable in the hand.

The best part is, at least for a reed-maker, the price. Now, of course, this brings to mind several questions for the more discerning reed enthusiast: is it made well? Will it keep from wearing out and rusting? Will it hold its edge? And the answer to all of those is yes, and remarkably so.

I was first introduced to the Opinel knife when I participated in an orchestra festival the summer of my junior year of undergrad. It was in a quaint seaside town in British Columbia. Every night after rehearsals we enjoyed exploring the town or heading to the beach right on the edge of the Puget sound. One day, for our "masterclass," the bassoon teacher took us aside to show us his reed-making process - pretty standard fare for a 2-week festival. The big takeaways from his lecture were to have cane ready in every step of processing, and to obtain one of these Opinel knives. He informed us that he'd been using one knife for several years without needing to sharpen it. While an oboist would cringe at the mention of such a fact, I was fascinated; because, naturally, I didn't like having to sharpen my reed knife every couple of days.

Blade grinds and their shapes

Image from Wikipedia

The most important aspect of any knife is, perhaps obviously, the blade. But what goes into a blade? How does it maintain its edge and what factors determine this? For reed-makers, one of the most advertised features of a knife is the grind of the blade. Reed knives are generally made with a hollow (#1) or chisel (also known as bevel, #4) grind. The bevel grind makes for a very effective cutting edge - it is a typical blade grind for Japanese kitchen knives. Conversely, the hollow grind, often used for shaving razors, makes a blade that is exceptionally sharp but structurally weak. This means that it will need to be sharpened more often, and consequently will need to be replaced more frequently as well. As a side note,  they should actually be sharpened using stropping, as opposed to using hard stone or glass (take note, oboists!).

Opinel knives, in contrast, have convex blades (#6). This is basically the opposite of the hollow grind, where the blades curve outward instead of inward. This means that the blade is structurally stronger and is able to hold its edge well while maintaining a good amount of sharpness. To me, this is the perfect marriage between practicality and utility. Bassoonists do not strictly speaking need blades that are as sharp the hollow ground knives - we don't dig into the cane the way an oboist does because of a bassoon reed's tapered slope. Rather than sharpness, longevity becomes the name of the game; I've been using my Opinel No.8 for five years and I've never looked back. The handle feels comfortable in to grip, much more so than any reed knife, and I've only needed to sharpen it a handful of times.

Opinel also has a fantastic variety of woods for their handles, and a plethora of other color options and even some etching patterns that look really amazing. In the future we hope to carry a greater variety of these types of handles. I think any practically-minded bassoonist will really fall in love with these knives, just like I have!

Gifts for the Bassoonist

Not sure what to buy for the Bassoonist on your holiday shopping list?  Don't worry!  We've put together a list of ideas at all price levels!  Call us if you would like more assistance, we are happy to help!

Under $10

Thread

Plaques

 

Under $50

Swabs

Kolbl leather cup seat strap

Cane

Music Stand

Mandrel

Protec or Rigotti Reed case

Music

Tool Pouch

Reeds

Files

Books on Bassoon

 

$50+

Rieger tip cutter

Rieger Micrometer

Marcus Bonna case

Reed Making Kit

DWK reed case

Rieger 6 pin drying board

Rieger reamer

LC Double Reed Forming Kit

Bassoon Stand

Knife

Bassoon Brands and Models

Choosing the right bassoon can be a daunting task. This guide will clarify what bassoon brands and models we 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 (612) 331-4717. Click on the model number of each listing below for a link to our store page for that instrument.

Midwest Musical Imports is proud to offer:
Fox Bassoons
Heckel Bassoons
Puchner Bassoons
Walter Bassoons
Wolf Bassoon
Yamaha Bassoons
Read More...

Tips from our Techs--Humidity Issues

 

Tip from head repair technician, Eric Anderson

Summer is that time of year when humidity increases and the wood body of instruments begins to expand.  This happens along the width and length of the wood grain affecting both the fit of keys, levers, and tenons.   When the wood expands in the summer months, woodwind instruments often don't fit together without a struggle, if they even fit together at all! We find that this issue is most prevalent during the first year of a new instrument's life, and especially prevalent in newer clarinets.

If this happens with your instrument to the point where abnormal force is required to take it apart, it's best to have an experienced repair technician take care of it.  A technician will be able to adjust the fit of the tenon cork, the exposed wood on the tenon, or sometimes both.  Ignoring the problem and blowing warm, humid air down your instrument will only make it worse!

The humidity will also make keys fit looser, but don't worry!  We never fit keys too tightly in the summertime because they will most likely expand in the fall/winter and potentially bind once the humidity drops.  Loose key fittings won't harm your instrument, they only cause them to be slightly noisier.  If you can live with the loose key fitting in the summer, great!  It should return to normal in the fall/winter.  If it is an issue for you, we can certainly fix it, and if we do, don't forget to come back to get the fit readjusted after the humidity changes.

If you ever experience issues with your instrument and don't know what to do, remember we are only a phone call away and are happy to help!!

Introducing our newest repair technician, Brian!

We are happy to announce that we have a new team member!  Brian DeGayner has joined MMI in the repair department.  He graduated from Southeast Technical in Red Wing with a diploma in band instrument repair in 2016. Prior to joining the repair team at MMI, Brian worked for Twin Cities Instrument Repair in Edina, focusing on flute and double reeds. He is a member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, and attends state and regional conferences. Brian spends most of his free time outdoors, or playing in local orchestras.

We asked Brian a few questions to get to know him better!

What got you started in repair? 

"After a few years of playing horn, I realized my love for working with my hands could be applicable to the industry. After talking with Greg Beckwith, I dropped everything and went to Southeast Tech in Red Wing."

What groups were you playing in prior to going to school for repair?

"I have played for several orchestras around Minnesota. Mankato Symphony, St. Andrew’s, Bloomington Symphony, Minneapolis Civic, Wayzata Symphony, and currently St. Paul Civic."

Any favorite pieces? 

"I love Mahler’s symphonies, especially 3, 4, and 5. Ein Heldenleben, Holst’s Jupiter, Sibelius....basically anything horn-heavy. Otherwise, I’m usually partial to playing in small ensembles, such as Daniel Baldwin’s Landscapes for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano, Martinu’s Quartet for Clarinet, Horn, Cello and Snare Drum, or Barber’s Summer Music."

What is your favorite repair to do?

I love a challenge. My favorite work to do is overhauling instruments: breathing new life into an instrument is very rewarding, and hearing an instrument I fixed on stage always makes me smile.

Any hobbies at home?

I would consider myself a maker. I’ve used my machining experience to make plenty of hand tools and a few machines to help with various projects. Currently, I’m refinishing my tool chest, painting models, and working on my jewelry making skills. I wouldn’t mind getting into watch and clock mechanism repair...

You’ve mentioned your love for the outdoors...

I go hiking and camping as much as I can, year round. I am an Eagle Scout (Troop 494, White Bear Lake, 2009), so I basically grew up outdoors. My family moves a lot of timber every year, and I hunt and fish whenever I can.

 

Please join us in welcoming Brian to MMI!  We are so happy to have him part of our team!

Happy National Teacher's Day!

We are so appreciative of all of the teachers that have helped us become who we are, and the teachers we help in the store!

In honor of National Teacher's Day, we are offering free standard shipping through Sunday on any accessory order shipped within the US.
Use code WELOVETEACHERS at the checkout.

From MMI, a HUGE thank you to every teacher, not only on your special day, but always!!

Holiday Hours

We will have special end of year hours for our physical location in Minneapolis. As usual, our online store is ALWAYS open!

Sat., Dec. 23rd - OPEN 9-3
Sun., Dec. 24th - CLOSED
Mon., Dec. 25th - CLOSED
Tues., Dec. 26th - OPEN with limited staff and no repair staff
Wed. Dec. 27-Sat. Dec. 30th--Normal hours
Sun., Dec. 31st through Wed. Jan 3rd--CLOSED for New Year's and our annual inventory.

Thurs. Jan 4th--Normal business hours resume. Normal business hours are Monday to Friday 9-5 and Saturday 9-3.

Thank you for you understanding and we wish you much peace, joy and success in 2018!!

Happy holidays from all of us at MMI!

Our tree is up, the decorations are hung and we're celebrating the holidays!  From now until December 25th, 2017, we are offering special in-store and online savings.

IN-STORE - Select an ornament from our tree (pictured above) and reveal special savings on accessory purchases and new instruments!

ONLINE - All orders of $75 or more will receive free standard shipping! Purchase a new instrument from us and we'll refund your shipping charges and give you a $100 off!

Thank you for your business and we wish you a very happy holiday season!