How To Choose A Bassoon
Congratulations! You are about to buy your first Bassoon...
How do you know which Bassoon you should be purchasing? Considering the variety of choices, as well as the costs of the instruments ranging so wildly, it’s crucial you possess all the accurate information that may help you along the way. We hope our Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Bassoon is helpful to you.
Things you should think about before buying your first Bassoon
Firstly, congratulations for choosing such a fun, versatile and special instrument! Buying your first bassoon is a very exciting thing to do, and in order to make sure you choose the right instrument to suit you, there are a few different factors that need to be taken into account:
- Are you a beginner? If so, how old and tall you are will also have a bearing on your choice of instrument.
- What sort of budget do you have? Bassoons range considerably in the price for a reason – and an instrument made for a professional probably won’t help a beginner to progress very quickly, much as learning to drive in a formula one racing car would not be the easiest route to getting around the place!
- In order to play your bassoon, you must also buy reeds or it won’t work! Unfortunately, they don’t last forever, so it is important to factor in the expense of ongoing reed purchase when deciding to play the bassoon.
What kind Of Bassoon Should I Buy?
As bassoons are quite big, heavy instruments, traditionally they weren’t able to be played until someone was about 11 years old. However times have changed and if you are aged 6 to 10, there are now some other choices available to get you started!
This is the smallest bassoon available and is about half of the weight of a full-size bassoon! It has the same fingering system as a full-size instrument, but it is pitched a 5th higher, in G.
This is a great choice if you’re desperate to get started and are aged 6 to 8, and it will take you through to grade 3 standard.
This is a slightly bigger bassoon than a mini bassoon and is pitched a 4th above a full-size bassoon, in F.
Short Reach Bassoon
This is a full-sized instrument that has a couple of modifications to the keys, to help players who are not quite able to stretch the distance required with the third fingers in each hand.
This bassoon is a versatile, singing instrument with at least 22 keys and over a three-octave range! This wonderful, sonorous sound is created using a double reed added to a crook and pushed into the instrument.
Let's talk about Reeds
The reed is practically an instrument in itself and is responsible for the intonation, quality of sound, the responsiveness of the instrument, and ability to play extremes of dynamics. There are many different types available, and it is wise to have at least two or three on the go at once, which should be rotated to prolong the life of them.
- They are available from specialist shops, and sometimes from your teacher who may make them tailored to your set up.
- They vary in length, shape, and hardness, and everyone has a different preference.
- They should be kept in a special reed case that keeps them safe from damage (they are delicate!) that also allows air to circulate around them.
How to hold your bassoon properly
Unlike most other woodwind instruments, the bassoon is too heavy to hold and play without some additional support. It’s extremely important to get the method of support right, and to be comfortable, so you can avoid being in any pain. Here are some of the different methods available:
- Distributes the weight evenly across the back and shoulders
- Not all types of harnesses are suitable for a female shape, so research on brand is needed if this is a consideration
How To Choose A Bassoon - Summary
Price should not always be a priority when choosing the right Bassoon. They come in different sizes, so it’s always good to take note of this. If you are a student, you can always have a chat with your school or music service about the possibility of purchasing through them. At the end of the day, choosing the right Bassoon has to feel right for you. If you would need any advise, you can always reach out to the like-minded people on our Ted’s List community on Facebook.
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