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!

Bonna Case

I was shopping for cases after selling my Wiseman case with my Fox bassoon. The Heckel came with a Gewa case, but the tenor and long joint would rub together and was creating some wear to the varnish of the wood. The Gewa case also came with an Altieri case cover which was too loose and uncomfortable to wear. The advantage of the Gewa case is the outside pocket of the case cover was large enough to hold original parts and a folding bassoon stand.

Gewa Bassoon Case

So my first thought was to get another Wiseman case. I had enjoyed mine for many years and now Wiseman has more options for interior colors and a fiberglass version. The big hurdle was the price, which is sort of justified since its kind of on par with luxury travel luggage. Even though the tenor and long joints were stored together I never found that they moved or created damage. I didn’t even mind that the storage was limited. What bothered me was that the case was large and heavy, which made it hard to walk with for a distance.

Wiseman Bassoon Case

Some of my friends have the Bonna case and I was curious about it, I went to Forrests to look at them. What surprised me was that it was very light weight and held the bassoon securely in place. I ended up getting one to at least try for a few months, and so far I like it. The bocal storage is small pouches on the floor of the case, it conflicts with my french whisper key so I keep them in a bocal box in my bag. The tenor joint and long joint have a small amount of space between them so they don’t rub. This case doesn’t have a pouch to hold large original parts, so I use a music folder. This case is so far the easiest to use and walk with.Bonna Bassoon Case

Leitzinger Bocal

I get a big kick out of experimenting with my setup and trying different options. Leitzinger bocals have been around for a few years now, and I have only heard good things about them. I play a Fox 601 which has the benefit of being very flexible, the bocal that I use completely changes the instrument.

I’m very spoiled in that I live in San Francisco and pretty close to Forrests Music. I picked up a few Leitzinger bocals to play test for the week and I decided to try different platings and different alloys. When I try bocals, two bocals of the same model and size sound so different.  I don’t usually try different platings because I can’t tell if the difference is between the platings or just different bocals. I ended up with a N ML 1

Leitzinger Bocal

The Reed Desk

Kris's Reed Desk

The next few entries that I would like to post have to do with my reed desk. I firmly believe that the quality and reliability of someone’s reeds is directly affected by the quality of their reed tools. Generally I have found that people who have great reeds on a daily basis without any “reed panic” days tend to have great reed tools that are sharp and in adjustment.

I would like to post a few entires on a consumer level giving detailed reviews of some of my machines and products. This will be bassoon, contrabassoon, contraforte, or general purpose double reed equipment. I have no affiliation with any company but have chosen my equipment based on reviews, function and the recommendation of my teachers.

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

Bocals

Bocal Collection

Like many players, I am always on the hunt for another bocal. When I was first getting good at the bassoon I was very happy with my sound and then i tried a new bocal and my sound was all of the sudden SO much better. I think that experience created new way of thinking, that there is always a richer more vibrant sound that i can achieve.

So now I have a bit of a bocal collection going. I really only use one bocal everyday and then I have some specialty bocals. I have: Fox *CVX*R2, *CVX*2, CVC2, CVC3, C and then a few no name bocals that came with my student instruments. I am not a very big fan of Fox bocals but when i try a batch of them i usually find a good match in there. Fox bocals have also in my experience been the most consistent. I have had a few used Heckel bocals sent to me on consignment and there is a drastic different between two bocals of the same model.

I purchased a Fox *CVX* R2 last spring and so far it has been the best bocal I have paired with my Fox 601. It has very little resistance and great pitch control for low notes. The high notes are a little harder to get out than on my *CVX*2 which is the only reason i have a *CVX*2. My two CVC bocals came with my current bassoon and for me they aren’t as vibrant as i would like them to be, they tend to be a little muffled and don’t have the high notes.

I am VERY lucky to work down the street from Forrests Music. After work or on lunch breaks I often go over to test used instruments and bocals. I have gotten the chance to try out the Paraschos bocals and the Leitzinger bocals.  The Paraschos bocal comes in two forms, one as basically solid wood and the other lined with metal. In my experience the Paraschos lined with metal seems to be more resonant and the solid wood version muffles my sound. These bocals are also new so I’m not sure how long their live expectancy is (cracks etc.) Now the Leitzinger bocal is another recent addition or at least in the last few years. There are so many different specifications for these bocals; alloys, length, bend, plating and taper. I haven’t gotten to try all of the different options by far but for the few bocals I tried they seem to be very open and vibrant. Easy playing in all ranges but again i think certain models are better suited for the highest playing. Id seriously consider a Leitzinger as my next new bocal.

Last week I tried the Leitzinger bassoon as well, it seemed to me like more of a gimmick. Like they have great bocals and now they made a “bassoon to match.” It’s priced “competitively” at $24,000. I only got a few minutes with one, and I know that we are all used to our own instruments but the pitch and projection wasn’t even as good as a Fox 240. The f# and g# keys also must have been drilled incorrectly because anything involving those two keys was uncontrollably sharp and had far too much resistance.

These bocals can be found new or used (on consignment):

http://www.forrestsmusic.com

http://www.rdgwoodwinds.com

http://www.charlesmusic.com

http://www.millermarketingco.com