Bassoon GSP

bassoon GSP

King Bassoon Reeds is now offering GSP for bassoon. The bassoon gouged, shaped, and profiled cane sells very fast and so is hard to keep supplying, but now with the school year out (less orders) we have more time to process cane.

 This cane is made using traditional Herzberg measurements and the Herzberg shape. This is all made with California cane which has a medium hard density.

Making Plastic Reeds

Legere has been making some great bassoon reeds! but they left out us contra players. So this is a video on making plastic reeds from a commonly found item, a Slurpee!

Green Reed!?

Green Reed

I tried an experiment last week involving a Green Reed for Contraforte. I just harvested some cane in early January and decided to try to immediately make a reed out of it instead of letting it dry. And this is what turned out! I regular reed that sounded and acted like any other reed but it was fresh green cane and didnt need to be soaked in water before I played on it. The texture was similar to a very hard piece of cane so I had to make this thinner than I would normally. After a few days it started to dry out and warp and is now is playing very sharp. Next I’m going to try this on regular bassoon.

I would suggest trying it to all of the cane harvesters out there!

Lesson Planning

Bassoon lesson

It’s a documented fact that children respond better to structure and consistency. By knowing what to expect, a student is able to practice in a successful way for the next lesson. Music teachers don’t really talk about their methods very much and musicians aren’t taught how to teach. But we all remember our favorite teachers, how they helped us improve, and how they did it.

When I first started teaching, it was in Los Angeles and I was still in high school. I was teaching middle school low brass players (I was a tuba player at the time) and I had no idea what to do. I was self taught and just “got it” so to help kids who were starting from the beginning was frustrating. I needed to find a way to relate to them without sounding belittling or that I was talking down to them. This came down to developing the demeanor that I have when I teach. When you are starting with a new student, you may have to remind them that C major starts C-D. Which seems basic to many players but is a new concept for them.

I began to notice holes in their education, they would sound good in their solo piece and then couldn’t play scales. Or that the pieces they played in band sounded fine but they wouldn’t work on music outside of required pieces. So I started a lesson structure that uses the entire hour in a useful way, without any dead time.

1) Major Scales to start, C major is a non threatening warmup. Students play the circle of fifths at the tempo they are able to, and the tempo bumps up one notch every other week. Depending on the level of the student scales might take more than half of the lesson. But scales are so important in being a woodwind player that it’s worth taking the time to fix any bad note connections or bad embouchure habits when going into different registers.

2) Required music is something I touch on quickly if they have a difficult passage for an upcoming band or orchestra concert. Students play this music everyday in band so most of it get sorted out by itself. Working out any problems in this is an easy way to show results to any music program that you are employed by. They hire you to make their students play well in the concert, so you need to make sure that they can play their parts.

3) Etudes and solo literature is the real hurdle in the lesson, this divides my good students from my bad students. Good students play through their piece everyday and I hear improvement. Bad students just say that they do! The real defining element to make a good student is the interest in playing. Which sounds obvious but some people think that they like playing bassoon, when they really just like blasting low notes. It is hard to engage younger students in more stylized pieces from the baroque. But the trick for young players with short attention spans is to play something in minor key, very fast, and loud. So Vivaldi Bassoon Concertos have been a nice way to teach standard repertoire but cater to young players. They want to show off fast notes and runs when they warm up in band class, so they learn the notes themselves, then all I have to do is tell them where the emphasis of the phrase is.

It can be helpful to use a Lesson Journal if, like me, you have a poor memory and your students’ lessons blur together. Basic things to keep track of are the tempo that they are playing scales that week, so that you can increase it accordingly. What they played that week, and how many weeks they have been on it. Who got a reed that week.

Here are some things that I have noticed over the years, mostly from trial and error…

There is no need to yell or be nasty. Bassoon is difficult and scary and some people suffer from stage nerves especially in an exposed one-on-one setting, so don’t make it worse.

Don’t let students know that a note is a “high note” act as if every note that you teach them is in the standard range and they are responsible for playing it.

They are responsible for their own reeds.

 It’s impossible not to have favorites in your studio. Just don’t show any favoritism.

Reed Machines

This is a post that I have dreaded doing for a long time. I debated whether this was necessary and useful to people, or if it would just be obnoxious. I realized that when I myself was buying reed tools there was very little information on a consumer level about how these machines stacked up against each other. If I was starting all over again in buying reed machines, I would have liked to have seen more information about them. So that’s the basis of including this aspect of my reed desk equipment.

 

Reiger Bassoon Gouger

Reiger bassoon gouger
bassoon gouger

 

Reiger Bassoon Gouger
bassoon gouger

This gouger was a recent acquisition, it was a graduation gift from my uncle. Outside of this gouger I have only used the Reeds ‘n Stuff gouger, and I do really prefer the Reiger. The guillotine (which is included, and a big reason for choosing this machine) is very easy to use and cuts to a perfect fit to the cane bed. Once the cane is at that 120mm length, it fits right into the cane bed and never slips out. I have had some problems with other gougers where the cane jumps off of the machine once you use a little strength.

www.georgrieger.com

 

Berdon Bassoon Profile

Berdon Profiler
bassoon profiler

 

Berdon Profiler
bassoon profiler

This machine is an ANTIQUE! It is very old and I found it on eBay from an oboe player who had it in his closet for a few decades. This machine represents a very simple single barrel profiler with two basic adjustment screws, a removable blade, and no measurement systems whatsoever. There are many simple machines like this still being done by a few companies. What I like is that it is very easy to use, easy to remove the blade to sharpen myself and easy to adjust. I don’t like that when I adjust the profile I have to waste a few pieces of cane on trial and error experiments with no way of knowing what my current settings are. I found this for $300 and it works great, if you can find a cheap simple profiler you can probably get a good blade fit to it and get it working. Otherwise I would suggest finding something newer and more sophisticated.

 

Reeds ‘n Stuff Tip Profiler

tip profiler
bassoon tip profiler
tip profiler
bassoon tip profiler

This tip profiler I also found used. This is the only thing that I own by Reeds ‘n Stuff and I’m quite sure that he now makes a fancier version of this. However this is very similar to the Reiger tip profiler and it makes all reed finishing a dream. Every tip is the same every time. I cannot enough stress how much this machine changed my reed making and my consistency of sound. I know that they also make oboe tip profilers, that is most of what I hear oboe reed makers complain about is creating an even tip. I have also had some luck using this with contrabassoon reeds without even having to adjust it. If I just put the reed on and keep it a few millimeters shy of the guideline, I get a great tip.

www.reedsnstuff.com

 

Reeds & Tools gouger

Contra Gouger
contrabassoon contraforte gouger

 

contra gouger
contrabassoon contraforte gouger

 

These Reeds & Tools machines are my newest additions, just over a month old. They represent the fanciest machines with flexibility and technology and controlled results. The gouger I currently have set up for processing contraforte cane, this means that I am using a 160mm long 30mm diameter cane bed with a 30mm diameter blade. The cane beds on this machine are interchangeable, so I also have a contrabassoon length bed (150mm) that I can slide use. I also have a 28mm diameter blade and carriage If I want to have eccentrically gouged cane instead of concentric. This machine can also fit a bassoon cane bed, so for doublers who only want one machine to process both instruments’ cane this may be a good choice. Again the guillotine has been great and the bed hold cane firmly.

gouged contra cane

This is an example of the gouge from this machine.

 

Reeds & Tools Profiler

contra profiler
contrabassoon contraforte profiler

 

contra profiler
contrabassoon contraforte profiler

 

This machine is a blast to use! So easy and fast. I have two scoring blades so I can score the collar and the center line of the cane. Chris van O’s was also nice enough to include a spare blade and a dial indicator for adjustments. Unlike my bassoon profiler, this machine has it all. I can accurately change my profile by hundredths of a millimeter by using the attachable micrometer…

contra profiler
contrabassoon contraforte profiler

 

This pair of machines make cane processing fast and accurate, and I would recommend them. So far Reeds & Tools is the only company making equipment for contraforte. The machines that I have are for cane up to 160mm in length but he is also making machines at 170mm and 180mm for contraforte player who want to experiment with longer tubes or blades.

reedsntools.nl

 

 

 

Reeds Finally!

I have been putting out reed orders for the past few months with great success and have had a great time connecting with customers. However it has been a hassle to manage reed orders along side regular gig emails etc. so I decided to create a reed website! It is a site that will be constantly updated with new products and cane sources. So feel free to check it out!

There is an icon (will make more sense in a few updates) at the bottom of the webpage linking to my eBay store. That is where I sell sale reeds or inventory that I need to move, usually at a reduced price.

kingbassoonreeds.com

Thread

thread collection

Maybe the most fun or visually artistic aspect of making reeds is the wrapping stage. At this stage is where the most (visual) variation happens from reed maker to reed maker. Some people still wrap with traditional thread, heat shrink tubing, glazes like duco cement or nail polish, or even completely unwrapped. In what I have read about wrapping it started as a way to ensure a complete seal of the tube. Now with our very precise shapers (some people bevel) the seal of the tube is not so much a problem. I have also read that reeds that have been wrapped are generally more stable and last longer than unwrapped reeds. I waiver with my finished reeds. I go through periods of months where I don’t wrap. But essentially I DO notice a sound change in wrapped reeds. They last a little longer and the sound is broader.

There are a few different threads to use and some work for oboe as well. For the last few years I have been getting thread from RDG. They have really nice colors an the quality is very good.

http://www.rdgwoodwinds.com/thread-solid-colors-c-2_79_86_148.html

But more recently I’ve been buying Omega Thread. This comes in larger spools and it is slightly thicker so maybe oboe players would not be able to use it. I found my first couple of spools at forrests music with a huge mark up, $7.00

http://www.forrestsmusic.com/thread.htm

However if you look them up in other website it is cheaper. This omega thread is actually a very fine crochet thread and it’s widely available. This site has more colors than forrests and its only $2.80

http://creativeyarnsource.com/omega_nylon_no_2.html

Shapers

photo-9

One of the defining aspects of creating tone on the bassoon is the shape of the reed. Shapers are made by many different companies, and each company offer different dimensions. These design differences correlate to players’ theories about reed dimensions. Some top players even have their own shapes manufactured to unify their own reed style.

Shapers are made of shaper handles and shaper tips. The shaper tips are the pieces with varying dimensions, and many shaper tips can fit into the same shaper handle to process cane. Straight shapers do not require shaper handles and are usually cheaper. For shaping with regular shapers the cane is folded in half and so only two sides need attention. The set back of the straight shaper is that the cane is not folded over and so four individual side of cane need to be cut evenly.

I own three shapers myself; a Fox 2 straight shaper, Rieger 1A, and a Rieger 13. Oddly enough all of these shapes create a 15.5mm tip and play respond best with a blade length of about 27mm.

I would say that a Fox 2 straight shaper is a great shape for people new to reed making. A Straight shaper (black shaper pictured above) is easier to work with because there are no adjustment screws in the way of you knife, and you can shape before or after profiling. This is a thinner shape with narrow throat and tube. This is my go-to shape for high note reeds, however low notes are usually quite sharp.

The Rieger 1A is a very popular shape, and I haven’t met a bassoonist who doesn’t own this shape. Its a great shape for bassoonists who are looking for an all around balanced reed with high notes and low notes. In my experience, this shape can be a bit too bright with a *CVX* bocal. A bright shape with a bright bocal can create a thin sound which lacks much depth.

The Rieger 13 is new to me, it is a copy of the shaper created by the famous American bassoonist K. David Van Hoesen. Many of my favorite bassoonists today studied with Van Hoesen and carry on some of his reed ideas. It has a wide throat and tube which is great for keeping pitch down for most reeds. The shape of the finished blade itself is slightly rounded near the tip. So far I have noticed that this shape has a sweet sound and ages well.

below are three blanks shaped on different shapers.

Fox 2          Rieger 1A        Rieger 13

photo-8