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.
Choosing the Right Clarinet & Clarinet Brands Explained
We stock a wide variety of clarinet brands appropriate for absolute beginners through the most consummate professionals. We’ve created this guide to the clarinets we carry to help you make an informed decision on what instrument is right for you. As always, if you have any questions feel free to call our clarinet specialists at 612-331-4717.
Clarinets are typically made from a variety of synthetics or wood (grenadilla). Synthetic clarinets are more resistant to physical damage and change little in different seasons or climates. All other things being equal, synthetic instruments will not produce as warm a tone as a wood clarinet. Wood instruments sound better/warmer but need much more care than the synthetic version to avoid cracks. Wood can very slightly, expand or contract throughout the life of the instrument, causing occasional key fitting problems that will need to be corrected by a repair technician.
When searching for a beginner clarinet for a young player, we suggest a synthetic instrument like the Buffet Prodige or Yamaha YCL-255. These are inexpensive, yet have a strong reputation for playing well and holding up to some level of mistreatment. For a slightly older or more careful student, the Buffet E11/E12, Yamaha 450 or Leblanc Serenade are intermediate or semi-professional models that are considered good wood instruments.
We suggest: Don’t skimp on the mouthpiece! The mouthpiece is the most important part of the clarinet for beginners. The included mouthpieces that come with most new instruments (“Stock” mouthpieces) are usually poor quality, making it difficult to produce a good tone with good intonation. Many students give up on music too early because they’re using equipment that makes progressing difficult.
Vandoren makes fine mouthpieces that are priced around $100. The Vandoren B45 and 5RV Lyre are good models to start with and are worth every penny in the early stages of musical development. We also carry Clark Fobes and Brad Behn student mouthpieces that are hand-crafted and are affordably priced between $35-40. For more information, see our online Mouthpiece and Ligature guide.***
If you’ve been playing between 3-5 years the basic synthetic instrument may be hindering your technical abilities, not letting you develop your sound and expressiveness. The current industry standards for intermediate clarinets are Buffet E11 or E12F and the Yamaha YCL-450 or YCL-650. We strongly believe that for new purchases these models are the right way to go. The only other option we suggest is finding an used professional model clarinet that is in good condition. When approaching the purchase of used clarinets it’s best to go with a reputable brand like Buffet, Selmer or Yamaha otherwise you could end up with an instrument with cheap parts that plays poorly. For clarinets, age does play a factor, especially when looking for a good intermediate model. Older clarinets may have cracks, a blown out bore or were poorly maintained. These are factors to be mindful of when buying instruments online without trying them first. If you decide to buy a cracked clarinet have it looked at by a professional repair tech to make sure the crack was fixed properly. Check our Used Instruments page to see what we have available, or call our clarinet specialists to get more information on current inventory.
After some years of private lessons most mature and dedicated players will start to outgrow their student instrument or intermediate instrument. This happens sometimes in early to late high school years or when a player’s performance opportunities increase. A private teacher or our clarinet specialists can help determine if a student is ready for a professional instrument.
The current industry standard professional model clarinets are the Buffet R13, Selmer Presence or Yamaha CSVR. We also regularly stock other high-end clarinets for trial as well.
As with intermediate instruments, it is imperative that you give a professional instrument a thorough evaluation before committing to a purchase. Our trial policy is easy and flexible so you’ll know you’re making the right decision.
Professional Clarinet Features and Options:
Most professional clarinets are made from Grenadilla wood. However, Buffet also offers a GreenLine series which follow the same manufacturing process as the 100% Grenadilla instruments but with the addition of carbon fibers. GreenLine clarinets can withstand variations in atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity). The risk of cracking is therefore eliminated. Created in 1994, the GreenLine series of instruments has taken advantage of the excess wood remaining from the clarinet manufacturing process. This process of combining Grenadilla powder with carbon fibers produces a clarinet that is greatly resistant to environmental change.
Other woods for making clarinets include Honduran rosewood and cocobolo but these more exotic woods are used more rarely due to diminishing supplies. Clarinets using these exotic woods are usually more expensive to purchase and provide specific sound qualities for professionals that desire them. Beware! These exotic woods can crack more readily than Grenadilla.
Some professional models incorporate extra keywork. There are alternate keys (ways to finger) for B, C, and C# but there is only one Eb/Ab key on the right hand side so some professional models will have an added left hand (LH) Eb/Ab lever operated with the left pinky finger. This extra key gives the player the option to decide which pinky finger they want to use on difficult musical passages. The Eb/Ab key can be helpful but most clarinetists play without one just fine. Some professional clarinets have a low F correction key. The low F on clarinet tends to be sharp and the low F correction was added to help fix the problem by bringing the note down in pitch.
Choosing a new intermediate or professional level instrument can be a daunting task but enlisting the help of a private teacher or knowledgeable sales person can make things easier. Always bring your mouthpiece, reeds, and the instrument you’re currently playing when trying new instruments. Playing your own instrument first will give you a baseline and a better idea of what you like and don’t like in a new instrument. Using your current mouthpiece setup will add some familiarity to this process and give you a better sense of the differences between your clarinet and the clarinets you’re testing. The biggest things to look/listen for are how the instrument feels in your hands and how it feels to play it. Switching back and forth from your clarinet to the new instrument will help you feel the different resistance levels as the air moves through each one. Make sure to use a tuner when testing to check intonation. Play a familiar passage of music and some basic scales the same way on each instrument. Resist the temptation to “show off” or play music that is so technically challenging that you are not really testing the instrument but your own abilities.
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!!
We are excited to be a part of ClarinetFest 2017!! The annual clarinet convention will take place in Orlando, FL from July 26-29. Tori recently returned from Buffet, where she and Richie Hawley hand-selected an amazing assortment of clarinets that will be available for trial. Also available will be Epplesheim's Contrabass clarinet for testing. One of our repair technicians will be doing free repairs throughout the show. A large variety of accessories will also be available for sale. And if all of this isn't enough, stop by to see Tori, Brandon, and Jessica's smiling faces!! =)
We absolutely love our new location and think you will, too!! The store has doubled in size!! We've added practice/lesson rooms, a recital hall, increased the size of our repair shop and sales floor. Please stop by for a visit! We'd love to show you around!
Our repair staff working hard in the new repair shop!
Our new recital hall with seating capacity of 60!
One of our new teaching/practice studios!
A street view of our new space.
We look forward to welcoming you in the store soon!
Join MMI's Ginny Dodge for a two-hour event on mindfulness, healing and intentional goal setting on Saturday, June 17th. Stop by in person or virtually with our Facebook Live broadcast. We’ll be offering four interactive and informative sessions on popular topics in personal development and holistic wellness, specific to musicians! Learn about and try essential oils, practice using powerful vocabulary, learn why goal setting hasn’t worked in the past and what to do about it, and build your knowledge of breathing exercises and meditation.
10:00-10:20 Session I: Meditation and Breathing Exercises
10:30-10:50 Session II: Affirmations, Gratitude and Mindfulness
11:00-11:20 Session III: Essential Oils for Musicians
11:30-11:50 Session IV: Goal Setting in the World of Music
We’re excited to see you!
Our repair department wants to remind you all that now is a great time to get your instrument repaired!
We are currently at a 1 week turn around! This is the fastest we've ever been! Send your instrument in for repair now to beat the summer rush!!!
- Daily Walk-in Repairs: Same Day Turnaround Convenience
Walk-In Repairs will be limited to one hour maximum bench time.
- Appointment System: 1 Week Turnaround; Choose Your Repair Date
This flexible option allows you to be without your instrument for the shortest time.
As the summer nears, we may not have as many appointment slots available. Call Tori, our Scheduling Coordinator, for more details.
- Regular Repair Queue: 1 Week Turnaround as of 4/20/17
Call for details about our current wait time, especially as the summer nears.
We request Regular Repair Queue horns to stay at MMI before being serviced.
- Rush Repairs: Limited Availability at an emergency rate.
Please note that emergency work including body restoration, crack pinning and key maintenance may be a multiple day process.
We look forward to meeting you!
Eric, Matt, Ginny, Caleb and Allen
I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that came to our grand opening celebration! For those of you that came, emailed, sent flowers or called with your best wishes, we are extremely grateful. Below are some photos from the event.
A big thank you again to our generous sponsors/vendors: Buffet-Crampon, Fox Products, Loree, Puchner, Heckel, D'Addario, Peak, and Clark Fobes.
We look forward to many more events and please keep an eye on our calendar for updates!
Jessica Nelson, General Manager
Owner and founder, Mike Aamoth gets a thumbs up after the Friday night reception from long-time customer, David Braslau.
Katie with customers at the Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Eric thanks a customer after work in the repair shop.
Our first customer during the celebration on Friday!! Jessica with her friend and oboist, Siri Garnaas
Friday was repair technician, Matt Reich's birthday! We surprised him with a cake.
Julie Gramolini William, Chris Marshall, and Greg Williams, of the MN Orchestra during their trio performance
As many players know, our instruments travel just as much as we do. Our instruments spend quite a bit of time being removed from and placed into their cases. If you're investing in your instrument, be sure to invest in an instrument case that cares for your woodwind too.
Many instruments that come through our repair shop suffer from ill fitting cases. Some cases can actually be detrimental to your instrument's safety. Reoccurring problems on your horn (rods becoming loose, keys going out of alignment) might actually be caused by the way an instrument fits in the case. We have seen bent keys from cases fitting both too tight or with excessive movement. If your current case is not fit to your instrument, be sure to attend to this issue. Scratched plating and blemishes in the body of an instrument can be caused by a loose bocal, screwdriver or other items left in the case. Consider a case with an outer zipper pouch to collect all of your accessories! We're here to help and our sales team has many options to offer when considering updating your case. Visit our online store to see our options for cases: oboe cases, bassoon cases, clarinet cases, saxophone cases. We can also special order cases--call us for more details.
The staff at Midwest Musical Imports has extensive experience performing and teaching on our respective instruments, in addition to the sales we do every day. We want you to make an informed decision and purchase an instrument that will serve you well for years We hope that these 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 the appropriate link below for your instrument buyer’s guide so you can get started on your research.
Bassoon 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.
Not going to a festival or studying privately, but want to up your musical game between the summer months? What can you do on your own to improve your playing? Grab a tuner, metronome, and one of these methods! Challenge yourself with my picks for the top oboe method books for practice and self-teaching:
Barret Oboe Method- These progressive etudes have an opera aria influence, and chiefly are used for studying musicality. Valuable technique studies are also included in this method. There is a version edited by Martin Schuring, which is much easier to read; it is missing some prose discussing oboe basics, including breathing and articulation.