Heckel 5751

This week I had Heckel 5751 on trial from RDG woodwinds. This bassoon was made in 1922 and has been modernized with a high D key, E key, rollers, and tone hole inserts. The stain and lacquer is in amazing condition, maybe part of the restoration.

Heckel 5751

The new keys have been added in a tasteful way and the key casts match the originals. However this bassoon still has the original ivory bell which makes it difficult to travel with.

Heckel 5751

This bassoon has a lovely sparkling voice and is still available at RDG

Heckel 5751
Heckel 5751

Heckel 5751

Heckel 5751

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 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 Bassoon.com

The Vonk

Bassoon Contrabassoon Contraforte French Bassoon Basson Baroque Fagott

“The bassoon family” is a bassoon lesson that I teach when a student is in a slump. Too many weeks on etudes or a concerto often makes high schoolers lose interest. So I give them a contra lesson, or for the students that have lessons in my home, an introduction to the bassoon family. I have two high school seniors this year, and contrabassoon will definitely be a part of college orchestra playing.

The start of each lesson is playing through the circle of fifths, 12 major scales. This is a nice way to get into contrabassoon and introduce the vent keys and the Eb keys. The student can get a small taste of standard orchestra excerpts like the Contrabassoon solos written by Ravel in his Piano Concerto in G, and Ma Mère l’Oye. Contrabassoon comes quickly to many bassoonists, and Contraforte come quickly to bassoonists who also play sax. The simple octave keys on the Contraforte make it a closer match to high woodwinds.

It’s also interesting to introduce students to the Baroque bassoon. I make a point to have students learn a baroque piece every year, since honor orchestras and college auditions ask for pieces from contrasting eras. The basic scale of the baroque bassoon is the same as modern bassoon, so a few Vivaldi concertos translate well to the baroque bassoon. This also provides a useful insight into the instrument that the piece was written for, and how lucky we are to have a modernized bassoon.

The french bassoon is mostly for informational use. To learn the lowest octave chromatically and play a few scales. I don’t teach much French repertoire to high schoolers so it’s an instrument with no direct connection to their experiences. But I Play a few recordings of french bassoon players, explain the Paris Conservatory, and the school of French players that still exist throughout the world.

Baroque Bassoon, French Bassoon, German Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Contraforte
Baroque Bassoon, French Bassoon, German Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Contraforte

Heckel Bassoon

 

A few months ago I had my first correspondence with Heckel. I am looking for my next bassoon and I have play tested a few new Heckels that I really liked. After emailing back and forth to find out what options were possible, they sent me a mail packet with an order form. I thought that I knew the bassoon options that I wanted, but seeing all of the options layer out on a list was overwhelming!

I am going over the new instrument piece by piece to figure out how it will all look together. I don’t EVER want to buy another instrument after this so I need it to have everything on it that I would need for the rest of my career. Like how high E was a standard key for a while but in the past few years the high F key is becoming normal.  I haven been able to make decisions about most things, except for the bell options. The French and Italian bells look great and then the gentleman vs. regular bell lengths…

Italian Bell Gentleman (current favorite)

Italian Bell Heckel

German Bell Gentleman

German Bell Heckel

French Bell Regular

French Bell Heckel

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

 

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A few years ago, around 2008 I purchased my current bassoon. I had an intermediate bassoon up until that point and I decided to shop around for something new. I was going to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music that fall and so I needed an instrument that was going to help me learn.

I had a great time shopping around! I justified to myself that since this instrument was going to be my main instrument for the next few years, I should try as many as I want. I had many bassoons sent to my house to play test and I had a few of the overlap. I used a few different websites as well as a few players that I knew were selling. In total I tried 3 Fox 601s, 2 Heckels, a Püchner 5000, a Moosmann 222A, and a Bell.

I initially really gravitated towards one of the Heckels based on sound alone. However It didn’t have the modern extras that I knew I needed, it didn’t have high E or any rollers. The other Heckel I tried had a very even scale and came with a few amazing bocals but it was very stuffy and and had little projection. The Püchner and Moosamann were actually sort of similar and I was very impressed by the Moosmann. It had many extras , extra keys and such but I found the instrument to be very heavy and the sound took a bit more work to get going. I felt like I had to push make it sing.

As a note about my “process” for testing bassoons. I had each bassoon at my house for at least 5 days. I used different reeds and played a lot of different rep. I also recorded myself for most of my playing as not all of the bassoons overlapped for side by side comparisons. I used a Fox CVX2 on each bassoon but also used the vocals that came with them. Some bassoons sounded much better with their own bocals especially the Heckels. They needed special bocals to help the sound out. (not that all Heckels do)

The 601s were the most fun for me, I was surprised at how different they were from each other. The Fox 601 has a great projection, tone, and it’s very flexible. The Fox had that bright sparkling core of sound that drew me to play the bassoon in the first place. Now between them I found that the oldest one was the better one. The Fox i chose was is from 1997. The others were from 1998 and 2002. I know that the new 601s are a bit different especially with brighter tenor register.

I have a french whisper key, A flat B flat trill key, and the A flick key to whisper key bridge on my bassoon. I have really been impressed with it so far. My playing has completely changed while Ive been in school, and I seem to appreciate it’s sound more and more.

I am down in Carmel and have been for the last three weeks. We are doing a production of La Boheme, however this has been reduced from a full orchestra to a 9 piece pit orchestra! As the bassoon I am covering many of the orchestra parts and I don’t get much as far as rests.

Overall it has been a very fun experience and I hope I get called again for this next year!

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