Balance Hanger

Ortwein Balance Hanger

Back when I played on my Fox 601 I relied on my Fox balance hanger to take some of the stress off of my left forearm. But the Fox balance hanger only fits Fox bassoons, and so now on my Heckel my old one doesn’t fit.

I just found a balance hanger made by Mark Ortwein which fits Heckel bassoons. I’ve been using it for two weeks now and it has made my bassoon lighter on my left hand. This bassoon is heavier than my last one so that’s really a big help.

These can be found at

Fox 601 For Sale

I am selling my Fox 601 bassoon. I am continuing to downsize my bassoon collection so that I can afford a new horn for myself. This is an amazing instrument that has been used in symphony orchestra for years. I have had this bassoon for 10 years now and it got me through the San Francisco Conservatory and many of my first gigs in San Francisco. My reason for selling this is simply that I like to change my sound every few years and I am looking for something new.

I have found that this bassoon is very flexible and change sounds with different bocals and reed shapes. I can blend with older Heckel bassoons and project for solo playing. I have been most successful with Heckel and Leitzinger bocals with Hertzberg and the Fox #2 shapes. I am selling this with 4 bocals and the Wiseman case; the horn has a little finger whisper key, A flick key to whisper bridge, Ab-Bb trill key and roller on thumb F# and Bb.

Selling for $18,500 or best offer. Feel free to send me an email through the Musical Chairs listing

Musical Chairs Fox 601

Fox 601

Fox 601
Fox 601

The Vonk

The Vonk

The Vonk is a bassoon support system created by Maarten Vonk. The system is designed to be used in place of a seat strap, leg hook, or floor peg and is unique because of it’s design and weight distribution. Essentially there is no weight put on the player’s hands when using the Vonk as long as you adjust it to the correct height. I have been using the Vonk for many years now and really enjoy it. They were popular in the Los Angeles area in the mid 2000s and I know many people who swear by them. I primarily use a seat strap for daily playing, but I bring the Vonk out for days with over 5 hours of playing. For some opera productions there will be a morning service/run through, lunch, and another run through. This is too much playing for me on top of my regular practice, so this system saves my hands.

The Vonk

The Vonk has two metal bars that attach to the base tripod. At the other end is a nob used to tighten the boot cap into the clamp. Depending on your bassoon, the boot cap might come loose, so test this area of the bassoon to make sure that you bassoon will stay up. If the boot cap comes loose, the bassoon fill fall off. The clamp tightens at a moderate pressure, too tight might dent the boot cap and too loose might cause the bassoon to slip. I have never had a problem with this. I play on a Fox 601 and it is very sturdy, however I can see how this could be a problem for some bassoons.

The Vonk

The real piece of engineering that sets this system apart is the tight ball in socket joint. This joint is the counterbalance for the weight of the bassoon. With the gold section engaged the Vonk becomes a bassoon stand. It disengages the ball in socket joint and so the bassoon stands vertical (see top photo)

The Vonk

When the gold section is brought down, the joint it engaged. This gives a large range of motion and is adjustable. Not only is the position and angle of bassoon changeable but also the height, so it is usable with most chair heights. When the system in engaged and in position, the bassoon just floats in front of you. The Vonk is available online at

The Vonk

Little finger whisper key

french whisper key

The little finger whisper key, or french whisper key; should become a standard key on the bassoon. It adds an extra option besides the whisper key lock and reduces fatigue in the repeated transition from low note thumb position to the flick key thumb position. The first example  comes from Robert Rønnes book “12 Virtouso Studies” in the first study “Warming Up” This passage is a good example of the low register to middle register thumb shift. The left thumb need to shift from the low C key across to the whisper key. However  with the little finger whisper key, you can hold down the whisper key for the entire measure. This allows the left thumb to stay in the low register position and play low C as it comes. By using the french whisper key there is the option of quickly removing it, unlike the whisper key lock. It can be added or removed during a fast passage without a reach or shifting.


The next example comes from Simon Kovar’s “24 Daily Exercises” and is a more common issue on the bassoon, the shift from the whisper key to flick keys. The usual technique is to leave the whisper key slightly early in order to get to the flick key in time. With a french whisper key a passage like this takes minimal energy with greater accuracy.


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

IDRS 2013

This year will be my first year attending an International Double Reed Society conference. I have always wanted to go to one but they have a been so far away. This year however, it is being hosted at the University of Redlands in Los Angeles from June 25-29. The schedule is packed with masterclasses, concerts, workshops and lectures from many of the biggest double reed artists currently active. I have already squirreled away a budget for the event and Im sure there will be many new products to try out.

I am particularly looking forward to Frank Morelli’s master class playing Sluka’s sonata, John Millers excerpt class, and the exhibit hall. There are events happening each day and a concert every evening. The two performances that I am looking forward to are Martin Kuuskmann performing Steve Paulson’s concerto for bassoon and Frank Morelli performing the Mozart.

This link contains all of the IDRS convention information for this year