Drilling a Bocal

I wanted to attempt to make my own high note bocal by drilling an additional vent hole. I have seen some articles mentioning bore size and placement so I decided to go for it. I bought a Fox CVX 3 specifically to destroy and some heat shrink tubing. The drill  bit that I used is an Irwin #60, it is 1.02mm.

I drilled through the top of the bocal at both 20mm and  25mm from the tip. Then I set 2 pieces of heat shrink tubing to cover the holes.

This allows me to choose which vent to use and also how much of the vent to have uncovered. So far I have noticed that the vent closest to the reed helps with the notes above high F but the tenor register has an airy rasp to it. The vent farther from the reed helps with notes to high F with less distortion of tone.

 

With the shrink wrap tubing put in place, the bocal works like normal. So it can be used normally for a piece of music and a vent can be opened for the specific passage that requires it.

Leitzinger Contrabassoon Bocals

This week I had a few Leitzinger Contrabassoon Bocals on trial from Forrests Music. I had a Leitzinger NML2 bassoon bocal  a few years ago when I played on a Fox 601, but I sold it since it didn’t pair so well on my Heckel 10k. What I so appreciated about that bocal was the easy high note response and clarity in the tone. That bassoon had some funny pitch issues (saggy middle E) that the Leitzinger fixed immediately.

I have been using a Heckel C2 that suits the instrument well, so trying new bocals is just out of curiosity. Forrests has a large selection of Leitzinger contra bocals so I got to try each type and plating option, I ended up really liking a F2 Gold plated and an F2 platinum. Now that I have had them at home for a few days I have a sense of what these are able to do.

I notice almost no difference in response, pitch, or tone from the Heckel and the high notes are just as solid. The one improvement I do notice is when I use a light reed and play loud sfz attacks sometimes the pitch can sag with the Heckel, and the Leitzinger is more stable. However I do not like the bend, it angles down much more than I would like which forces me to change the instrument position. And lastly the price point is high. This thing comes in at $2,300 which is much more than a new Heckel bocal, without a huge sound difference. I am impressed by the sound and quality of this bocal but it’s a little too much for me!

New Contraforte Bocal

Contraforte Bocal

I received a new Contraforte bocal as a late Christmas present this year! When Wolf sends out a contraforte they send it out with one bocal, presumably something well matched to the instrument. This has been their system for a while and reflects in their period instruments as well. Since the instrument is custom made so is the bocal to match it.

One of the great aspects of playing bassoon and contrabassoon is that each player sounds different and unique, part of that is the player and part is the equipment. I also think that changing equipment/reed shape/bocals can make someones playing easier depending on what qualities they like to bring out in their playing. So having one bocal as my default bocal forever with no other option made me a little antsy. I contacted Wolf about 2 years ago and asked if they could make me a second bocal. At the time I was making shorter contraforte reeds and my pitch would travel a little high and so I asked for a longer bocal. Well they asked me why I would want another bocal and what I thought it would change. I honestly was just curious, anything slightly different would have its own characteristics, no two bocals are the same etc.

I was selling some bassoons through Midwest Musical Imports and I asked if they could email Wolf and get this started for me. And it just arrived! So far the obvious characteristics are a lower center of pitch and easier high register. This will be my primary bocal for now to figure out any other differences.