• Wind
  • Bassoon Buying Guide
Bassoon Buying Guide

Bassoon Buying Guide

11 minutes

There’s no denying that the bassoon is an expensive instrument to purchase! As with most major investments, it pays to take time to look at several options and work out which is right for your personal requirements. This forms the basis of our Bassoon Buying Guide.

Although it’s one of the less common instruments, there’s still a lot of choice out there when it comes to bassoons, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question ‘what is the best bassoon?’

How to buy the right bassoon for you

The instrument that’s best for you will depend on which level you are at with your playing – although the range of models may look very similar at first glance, there are many designs available for everyone from beginner players through to professionals.

Important things you’ll need to consider when buying a new bassoon include its weight, key work, tone and how well it fits in your hands. Many of these are down to individual preference, so take your time and don’t worry if your choice is different to that of other people.

If you’re looking into purchasing a new bassoon, take a read of this bassoon buying guide before you start. Below we’ll cover some of the things you’ll need to think about when you buy a bassoon.

Where is the best place to buy a bassoon?

You may be able to buy a bassoon through a local music shop or online retailer such as Gear4Music, but most instruments will be sold through a specialist woodwind instruments or double reed supplier.

Most of these shops are staffed by bassoon or woodwind experts, so they’re always happy to give you advice on buying an instrument or answer any questions, from basic queries to more specific questions.

The days of having to visit a shop to buy a bassoon (or indeed anything) are long gone – most woodwind and double reed retailers have online shops and will be able to do everything from offer advice by email to deliver a bassoon by courier.

Things to consider when buying a bassoon

Size

A standard full size bassoon measures about 1.3 metres – although it’s actually about 2.5 metres of tubing doubled back on itself. Most full size bassoons weigh about 3.5kg.

The large size and weight of the bassoon means that players usually have to wait until around the age of 10 or 11 to start playing.

Even at this age it can be tricky for small hands to reach all of the keys on the full sized bassoon, so younger students may be more comfortable with what’s known as a shortreach bassoon.

Short reach instruments have the same tubing size as a full sized bassoon, but they’re often made of lighter wood and have modified key work (such as moving the third finger key higher for the left hand) to make them more manageable.  I would recommend the Schreiber S13 shown below – it’s not particularly cheap, but it’s incredibly well made and sounds lovely.

The mini bassoon is a good option for children who are keen to start at an earlier age (from 7 upwards). It has most of the key work of a standard bassoon, but it’s much smaller and lighter.

The sound is not quite as good as that of a full sized bassoon but the mini bassoon helps the student to get used to the keys, the breath control and reading music, and start to play in a band or group from a young age.

Schreiber S13
Shortreach Bassoon
Best for the musician with small hands
$ 8500
/£6900
  • DESIGN: Redesigned Key Wings for a better feel
  • INCLUDES: 2 Crooks for Suiting Your Preference
9.6/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.6/10
PROS
CONS

Material – plastic or wood?

Most bassoons are made of wood (usually maple wood that’s been seasoned for 10 years or more) as it has the best tone quality.

However, it is also possible to buy instruments made of plastic. Although the tone is not so refined, plastic bassoons are more robust and therefore suitable for school instruments or younger students as they require less care to keep them in good condition.

Keywork – what is the ‘German’ system?

The key layout on the modern bassoon is often known as the ‘German system’ – this term dates from the days when players could also opt for the ‘French system’, which is largely obsolete in the 21st century.

When looking for a new bassoon to purchase now, the key work will almost certainly be of the German system, but the number of keys can vary from around 22 to 28 (with student and short reach bassoons having fewer and professional instruments having more).

Every extra key adds cost, weight and complexity to the instrument so it’s worth thinking about what you really need. Trill keys and extra alternative mechanisms are only worth having if you’re likely to want to play more complex music and full orchestral repertoire.

Sound quality

Subtle differences in the wood and design mean that different bassoons will have a different tone quality (even if they’re the same models). Some instruments will have a brighter, more open tone, while others produce a warmer sound.

There’s only one way to find out how any individual bassoon will sound, and that’s to play it! Much comes down to personal taste, but you should always make sure that you’re able to produce the notes easily without blowing too hard.

Best Student bassoon

Howarth mini bassoon
Best for young children
$ 4500
/£3200
  • Price level: Good value
  • Perfect for: Getting children aged 8+ started
7.8/10
Bassoon Buying Guide
Howarth mini bassoon
Best for young children
Bassoon Buying Guide
Howarth mini bassoon
Full keywork makes it simple to move up to a full-size bassoon
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  7.8/10

Student models will have all of the basic keys you need, without any unnecessary additions. Many bassoonists will play their first bassoon for several years before finding that they need to upgrade.  If the Schreiber S13 is too expensive for you, this Howarth is a good second option.

PROS
CONS

Intermediate bassoons

Schreiber S16 bassoon
Best for a good-value instrument
£ 7400/
$10500
  • Price level: Good value
  • Perfect for: Ensemble and solo playing.
8.5/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  8.5/10

Once you’ve become an intermediate player, you may find that you require extra keys such as an alternative low C key and a high D vent key (both for the left hand thumb). A crook lock is likely to be useful too, for jumping between low and high notes easily. Becoming a more advanced player may necessitate such parts.

Intermediate bassoons may also have some rollers added to certain keys (such as the little finger keys for both hands, and the right hand thumb keys. These small additions are useful for smooth movement between notes.

This Schreiber S16 is an excellent bassoon – and you really can’t go wrong with it!

PROS
CONS
Fox Renard 222D bassoon
Best for ease of sound production
£ 7200/
$10300
  • Price level: Good value
  • Perfect for: A long-lasting investment
7.2/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  7.2/10
PROS
CONS

Professional bassoons

By the time you have progressed from being an intermediate player to a professional level you’ll be aware of what you want and don’t want from your bassoon, and the kind of music you’re likely to play.

For professional players, things like trill keys and a high E vent are likely to become more important, and you may like to add more rollers to aid legato playing. Professional bassoons facilitate these styles of playing.

Such things won’t suit everyone, however – if you’ve got small hands it might be better to keep things simple and not use professional models.

Püchner Jubilee
Best for warm, dark sound
£ 23,000/
$32,500
  • Price level: High
  • Perfect for : College students and professionals.
9.0/10
Bassoon Buying Guide
Püchner Jubilee bassoon
Renowned instruments used by many professionals.
Bassoon Buying Guide
Püchner Jubilee bassoon
Beautiful Germanic sound
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.0/10
PROS
CONS
Moosmann model 222
Best for lots of projection
£ 20,500/
$29,000
  • Price level: High
  • Perfect for: Players wanting a big sound
8.6/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  8.6/10
PROS
CONS

Accessories for the bassoon

Barnes & Mullins Jones Bassoon Reed Review
Barnes & Mullins Jones
Excellent Bassoon Reeds
MORE >>>
Bassoon Reed Case
Reed Case
Excellent way to protect your reeds
MORE >>>
Hercules Bassoon Bass Clarinet Stand Review
Hercules Bassoon Stand
The best bassoon stand on the market
MORE >>>
Reeds

However much effort and money you’ve put into buying your instrument, you won’t be able to play a single note if you don’t think about the reeds too! Like the oboe, the bassoon uses a double reed: two pieces of cane that vibrate against each other to produce the sound. Double reeds are unique to the bassoon and oboe, as no other woodwind instruments have them.

Some professional bassoon players make their own reeds, but most people will buy them ready-made. Your teacher may be able to provide you with suitable reeds, but otherwise it’s easy to order and buy them online.  I particularly like the Barnes & Mullins Jones reeds.

You’ll probably see that there’s a lot of choice! When starting out it’s best to stick to a medium or medium-soft reed. You can also buy special reeds designed for mini bassoons

Although you can only play one at a time, it’s worth having at least three reeds in case they break or wear out. You should also keep them in a proper reed case to save damage.

Stand

A good quality, trustworthy bassoon stand is a MUST.  It’s one of those accessories that you think is not that important, until you leave your instrument on a chair and knock it off, or worse, leave it on the floor and tread on it.

The Hercules Stand above is the best on the market, and it’s also reasonably priced.

Bocals

Bocals (also known as crooks) are another vital part of the instrument and can make a large difference to the tone a player produces. Student bassoons will have just one, but intermediate level instruments often come with two: a shorter number 1 bocal/crook and a slightly longer number 2.

Over time you can change the tone quality and playing resistance of your instrument significantly by changing the crook/bocal for something of a different thickness or metal.

However, when you’re starting out the most important things are to make sure the metal isn’t dented in any way, and that the shape allows you to play comfortably without having to move your head.

Key oil & pads

To take care of your new instrument it’s worth investing in some basic maintenance kit like key oil and replacement pads.

Learning to diagnose and fix problems can save you expensive repair work – most minor faults can now be solved by finding the right YouTube tutorial!

Supports

The bassoon is heavy, so you’ll need something to help you hold it up – either a harness that you wear or a seat strap that supports the weight from the bottom end.

Bassoon Buying Guide
Protec A317 Bassoon Harness
A very comfortable harness
MORE >>>
Bassoon Buying Guide
BG B05 Bassoon Leather Seat Strap
Comfortable and Durable
MORE >>>
Case

Your bassoon will probably be supplied in a case but it may well be heavy and awkward to carry around.

If you’ll be travelling around a lot (to school or band rehearsals perhaps), look out for a lightweight backpack case that will make it easier to carry your bassoon, a bit like this Tom and Will Gig Bag.

Buying vs renting

It’s worth remembering that you don’t have to buy an instrument at all if you don’t want to! Several places offer bassoon rental, which can be a more affordable option if you’re starting out or trying to decide which instrument suits you.

Buying vs Renting
Rental is a good choice for mini bassoons or short reach instruments that you may only need for a year or two.
PRO Tip!

Bassoon Buying Guide
Summary

Many things about choosing a bassoon are down to individual preference, and you need to consider various factors to ensure you end up with an instrument that you are totally happy with.

The size is probably the first thing you should decide upon, because ending up with an instrument that’s too big or too small will hinder your progress considerably.

You certainly get what you pay for with bassoons, so make sure you aim for the top end of your price range when choosing an instrument to buy.

Ted's List

Best Children’s Bassoon

Howarth mini bassoon

The Howarth mini bassoon is a great way to introduce children aged 7-10 to the basic skills of playing the bassoon without too much weight.

Ted's List

Best Student Bassoon

Adler and Schrieber

For reliable key work and excellent tone quality at a decent price, the German makes Adler and Schrieber bassoons are popular choices.

Ted's List

Best Intermediate Bassoon

Fox Bassoon

Instruments by the US maker Fox are known for their ease of sound production. Several models are available so you can pick according to personal preference.

FAQ's

How much does a good bassoon cost?

Student bassoons are likely to cost upwards of £4000/$5500, and professional models can cost as much as £40,000/$55,000, depending on the brand.

Why are bassoons so expensive?

Bassoons are often hand-made rather than mass produced. The extensive key work is also a factor in the cost, as is the mature maple wood used for the body.

What is the best bassoon brand?

The German company Heckel is widely recognised as the best maker of top-quality professional bassoons. Other popular brands are Fox, Püchner and Moosman.

Is bassoon the hardest instrument?

The bassoon is the only standard orchestral instrument that uses every finger separately, so it certainly has a claim to be the most difficult to master!

SHARE NOW
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Let Us save you Time & money by choosing the right instrument
FREE Report Reveals.....

GETTING STARTED WITH MUSIC LESSONS

Join Our Members Facebook Group Now

FREE

REPORT REVEALS...

Top 10 Tricks to Playing The Bassoon

Top 10 Tricks

To Playing The​

Bassoon

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 Comments

Join 4,729 Subscribers Who Receive
Free Tips On Learning A Musical Instrument
Affiliate Disclaimer: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
This keeps it 100% reader-supported and free of ads. Thanks for your support!
Copyright © 2021 Arts Digital Limited trading as Ted’s List™®. All rights reserved.

Ted's List is a project run by The Emery Foundation - a Micro-Trust of GivingWorks, registered charity number 107877.

The idea of Ted's List was setup to raise funds for musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the Get Musicians Working project.

Quick Guide...

Getting Started with Music Lessons

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Free Report Reveals...

10 Secrets To Successful Music Lessons

Join 4,729 Subscribers Who Receive Free Tips

Our community can help YOU learn any musical instrument in the best way possible - sign up now

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

EVERY FRIDAY

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Your Tips & Tricks Are Waiting

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

ONE-2-ONE ADVICE PACKAGE

Need Professional Guidance On What To Buy?

Our 0ne-2-0ne Advice Package is a 15 minute phone-call with one of ted’s list’s professional musicians.

They can guide and advise you on what instrument to purchase and where from; often securing a discount along the way.

£50 £25

Every Friday

Get the 4 Things We Have Been Loving, Using and Reviewing

Your Video Is Waiting!

How To Save Time & Money When Choosing A Musical Instrument

THE SPOTLIGHT IS WAITING

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument

Join Ted's List Now To Get Your Tips & Tricks

Sign up now to find out how to save time & money when choosing a musical instrument