Topic: Bassoon Boost

Inspired by the fact that replacing cork with plastic on oboe tubes has a positive effect on the resonance, response and tone of the oboe and Cor Anglais, I recently decided to investigate, whether this idea could be applied to the basson bocal.

I started by examining a couple of Adler bocals and have had a couple of prototypes made, suited for this particular bocal. Since I don't play the bassoon myself, I have to rely completely on what I hear and what my basson colleagues say about it.
What I do know by now is that there is a definitely positive effect of this. The sound is more focused, slightly larger and more 'interesting'. My test'pilot' says the basson is more pleasant to play, the reponse from the bassoon seem improved, at the same time smooth and firm. I don't know exactly why that is, but there is something about the translation of vibrations to the instrument, which is enhanced by using plastic instead of cork. Could be the 'irregular' vibrations are grounded better than when using cork. It is a mystery yet.
The fact is, it only takes a very simple procedure of removing the cork from the bocal and gluing on a plastic tube instead, and you have a better instrument.

You can see a picture of the idea here: http://www.oboetube.com/bocalfit.htm

I think this is a real gain for every bassonist, pro or amateur, so I am currently investigating the variation of bocals, among the bassonists in my town. So far I have seen two types, as shown below. Fox, Püchner, Heckel seem to belong to type A; Adler is type B. The great thing would be to settle on a good compromise, designing a piece which fits them all, or maybe narrow it down to a couple versions; one for type A and one for type B.
If anyone wants to give input to this, it is most appreciated. In the drawing below are the measurements I would like to determine the variation of. AMAX and BMAX being the biggest diameter of the conical part of the bocal.

http://www.oboetube.com/bassoon/bocaltypes.gif

I have searched the web for any previous research in this field, but I haven't found any. If someone has heard about this before, I would like to hear about it.

Thanks in advance
Thomas Nissen

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Re: Bassoon Boost

So is this like a Chudnow staple for the bassoon bocal?

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

Yes, you can say that, except metal is not possible to use, it has to be hard plastic.
You could call it  the Nissen Tube for the bassoon bocal wink

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Hi Friends,

   Sawicki's Law:

   Resonance = Bassoon /  Leaks ...

(The Bocal receiver is not a place you want a leak.)

   I had a german soprano recorder (thirty years ago) with nylon ferrules...
A pattent search might be a good idea before pinning a name on it.

   Good luck.

Regards,
Guy Mallery

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/contrabassoon
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/frenchbassoon
BASSON RADIO (24/7)

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Re: Bassoon Boost

a comment to the problem of leaking: With cork I think there is a potential problem at the end of the bocal, as the cork in most cases stops 2-3 mm before, leaving a gap of about 0.55 mm (around the bottom of the bocal metal). Leaking with cork is also possible when the cork is flattened, and the whole bocal rocks in the receiver/socket
The plastic however goes all the way down, and leaves only a tiny gap, max. 0.1 mm. The rubber rings further up makes a perfect seal, and more important: connection. From what I have seen so far, the bocal sits rock solid, and will continue to do so, as the rubber rings are quite durable.
My first test player is now off his cork bocals, I take that as first proof of this being a step forward. We haven't found any disadvantages yet, when it comes to the effect of this 'trick'.

A few mechanical issues still have to be resolved, as explained in the first post.

/Thomas Nissen

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Once attached, is it possible to remove the plastic sleeve from the bocal without undue stress or damage to the bocal itself?  It would be interesting to apply this technique to tenons as well but the issue of contraction/expansion of the wood would have to be considered.

Glenn West
Bassoonist, US Military Academy Band
West Point, NY
www.westdoublereed.com

Re: Bassoon Boost

The plastic can be removed again, with a sharp knife cutting through the plastic and glue. It's not done in 2 seconds of course.
The tenons/joints are other areas where there is less than optimal contact, a field which is yet to be explored.  It can be solved I'm sure, but that is research to be done by the bassoon manufacturers. I think drastic changes to the bassoon like plastic in the tenons is not a do-it-yourself thing.

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Hello Thomas,

This is a very interesting line of inquiry. You discuss the transmission of vibrations from the bocal to the instrument and I wonder if the traditional cork tends to dampen those vibrations at the point where the snug fitting cork compresses the bocal at the top of the tenor joint? Perhaps the harder plastic material allows more of the vibrations to be transmitted past that point and into the bassoon resulting in the tonal improvements you describe. The outcomes of your further inquiries will be most interesting to follow.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

Dear bassoonists
After 7 months research with input from bassoon players from 'my neighbourhood' and some abroad, I have finally found the best solution to the bassoonboost, for this idea to work with nearly every bocal and bassoonmake. Finding the right design and sizes of rubber rings, and suppliers just took time.
My last test was done yesterday, when one of my bassoon friends (plays a Fox) came over to try one of his bocals that I had converted. He played a bocal with cork and the new one. He was delighted with the result, as was I. I could hear at once that when he played the converted bocal, his sound was noticeably more projeted and full, less fuzzy, more interesting, it filled my living room much better. He also noticed that it was somehow easier to play, especially in the bottom, this I have also heard from another tester.

So, for those of you who would like to try it, I have set up a page which will tell you all about it. If you have any questions, just mail me.
I want to thank those who contributed to the research.

Please visit www.oboetube.com/bassoonboost

Thomas Nissen

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Re: Bassoon Boost

I have a question about this that rather than email you privately, I thought the answer could be of benifit to the board.  I might be interested in this, although the prospect of dramatically changing my bocal scares me a bit.  I do, however, live in the USA, so I wanted to confirm that shipping is still 3e ($3.85 as of today) or if you have different international shipping rates.

Have any more people tried this out?  Can we get some comments directly from the people who have tried them?

A question for anyone reading: how much does it typically cost to re-cork a bocal?

A personal question about my situation: Have you tested the fit on Moosmann bassoons?  I have a Moosmann 222A.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

I've logged onto Thomas' web site to look at the cork replacements. As Trent surmised earlier it is an approach similar to Mark Chudnow's oboe staples. Installation is simple and straightforward and I am going to give it a try on some of my bocals. Trent, how about you?

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

I glued the Bassoon Boost onto my bocal some time ago, and was very happy with the results.  However, make sure you use EXTREMELY powerful glue.  I used epoxy, and after about 5 or 6 months, the plastic began to come loose from the metal.  Perhaps roughening up the metal so that the epoxy can stick better would be a better idea, and be sure to get rid of all of the excess glue leftover from the cork.

Associate Principal Bassoon/Contrabassoon, Kansas City Symphony

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Gene, I'm really seriously considering it.  The cost of the equipment isn't all that much, and I'm sure I can find the right kind of glue.  It's not a big deal to play on a spare bocal for a few days while the first one dries - I'm just afraid I'll screw up the installation or I really won't like the result.  I just want to hear more opinions before venturing into this myself.  I'm typically trying to "warm" up my sound, not "heat" up my sound as I think this might do (don't ask me why I think that).

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

My cork replacements from Thomas arrived last week and a few days ago I found time to replace the cork on one of my Fox bocals with the new device. I used a glue named WeldBond that takes a couple of days to really set up. How long it will last I don't know. Anyway, the process is extremely easy. The hardest part is getting the old cork off the bocal. Kudos to Fox for really sticking it on there. After about 24 hours for the glue to set I gave it a try and am glad to report it made a very positive difference. The tone quality was cleaner, clearer, and  definately projected better. I intend to try it on my Wolf bocals next even though I think they already do a great job.

One thing to bear in mind when you try this, though. I'm playing my Moosmann bassoon for a couple of weeks while my Wolf wing joint is in Germany for some work. The bocal receptor on the Moosmann seems somewhat larger than on other bassoons and the "O" rings provided by Thomas didn't have enough bulk to hold the bocal firmly in place and it insisted on pivoting around while being played. I find that's not very helpful when you are trying to play. Maybe on other makes this wouldn't be a problem. Tomorrow I will try to find some beefier "O" rings over at True Value to remedy the situation.

Overall, my first trial suggests that replacing corks with these devices produces positive results and you might want to give them a try. Worthwhile, I would say.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

I have sent Mr. Nissen an email regarding this, but I found out something that others might want to keep a lookout for.  I have a Wolf bocal that I intended on putting this on to, but it doesn't fit.  And by that I mean that the diameter of the outside of the bocal is too great and the bassoon boost doesn't close around the bocal.

My Wolf bocal is a bit weird maybe though, so others might not have this issue.  It is not a thin walled bocal.  The indications on the bocal are M10 F6 3 G, which according to Arthur Grossman means that the bocal is made of brass and is a full millimeter thick.  As this might be considerably thicker than other bocals, I found that the cork was indeed pretty thin upon looking at the scraps that are now in my trash can.

I'm keeping the bassoon boost, intent on putting it on a Moosmann bocal that I like but that I don't use primarily, but will be using (corked as is) until I get a chance to get my Wolf re-corked, or until Mr. Nissen sends me a bassoon boost that is big enough to accommodate my bocal.

Just a heads up for those interested in trying this.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

Lately, the bassoonboost has really spread out, both in the US and Europe, so I get a lot of feedback these days about how the plastic sleeves are implemented with various bocals and bassoons. This is really valuable information, and I keep an eye out for combinations where the bassoonboost is unsatisfactory so it can be helped out in a coming update of the design.
So far though, the current design satisfies most players, so larger or smaller models will not be available, as this is quite expensive - at least more than most would want to pay for something they haven't tried before.
I will just comment on the glue issue, since I get many questions about that: I have always used an epoxy type glue, like Araldite from Huntsman, see http://www.huntsman.com/advanced_materi … ageID=5850, which is a strong, slowsetting 2-Component glue that is extremely durable. It has never lost its grip on any of the oboe tubes I also do, and none of my Danish bassoon customers have a problem with it so far. Many ask me for a specific brand, and the best answer I can give is: ask your local store for Araldite. It is originally a trade name, but today it's used as a common name for epoxy glues. Many brands will do the job, but to name one, I will pick Araldite from Huntsman

Thomas Nissen.

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Upon the return of my Wolf wing joint from Germany I eagerly tried to use the Fox bocal on which I installed a BassoonBoost. Unhappily, just the opposite situation existed as the problem with the Moosmann bassoon. The bocal receptor of the Wolf is too small and the modified bocal won't fit in it; the sleeve is too thick. So, there are some combinations where the standard device won't work and you need to proceed with some caution before stripping the cork off a bocal and installing the BassoonBoost. Maybe they could be made in sleeves of varible thickness?

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

I would love to be able to offer various dimensions of the sleeves, I know that for some users it's not just plug and play, so to say. The big obstacle is (as always) the economy. The number of players who will have difficulties with the bassoonboost is (luckily) too small to justify having 5-8 other sizes available.
Not for a big company perhaps, but I have to stick to the optimum I've designed, as long as it works for most players.

Regards
Thomas Nissen

Last edited by nissen (2006-11-03 07:37:43)

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Re: Bassoon Boost

I have just converted one of my bocals to the bassoonboost system, and I am now a believer. The difference is truly quite noticeable especially in response. The only problem that I have encountered is that the bocal doesn't fit tight enough and tends to move as a play. I will be trying some of the other o-rings in the kit to see if I can get it tighter.

Best,

David

David Ross
2d Bassoon and Contrabassoon
Syracuse Symphony Orchestra

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Dear Nissen,

What is going wrong to you, I have been waiting your sleeve for two week. Please reply as fast.

Thks

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Re: Bassoon Boost

I have been using the bassoon boost for several years now and I am very gratified with the improvement...do use good epoxy and expect that perhaps in a year or so the bond might wear out, if you do as much playing as I do. I have a few solutions to remove the bocal if the bond goes while it is still in the tenor joint socket as I had this problem a few days ago.

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Re: Bassoon Boost

Wow I have received yesterday from Denmark "Thomas Niesen",

Thanks alot.......

Although I'm not pro bassoonist. I've found that the result is excellent. My intonation is improvement and sound more clear and easily response. I've tried few solo like first paragraph of weber f major, the high B flat sound better than before and f sharp sound more clear. What a good invention. Please kept improved to the sleeve.......

#####but i still have to said that the thickness of the sleeve is too thick, not be able to fit into my schreiber. I have to use sand paper to sand it out about half an hour. There are some alteration to the sleeve to make bassoonist more choices especially the thickness of the sleeve.

how about feedback form others bassoonist?

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Re: Bassoon Boost

I never replied after I got it working, and bssnnew's posts indicate I had probably better.

On the Wolf bocal I ended up filling in the gap left by the Boost  with the same epoxy that I used to glue it to the bocal in the first place.  I then sanded/filed down the area filled in so that I could put the O rings on.  Even without O rings the Boost was too large to fit in my bassoon, due to the fact that I essentially had made the boost thicker by filling in that gap (increasing the circumference).  I sanded it down so that that top of the Boost would fit in my bassoon, and added a few of the smallest O rings to the bottom notches so that it sealed.

The results were impressive.  Increased response and the potential for more resonance overall, and a higher top dynamic range.

I then put a Boost on that Moosmann bocal I mentioned.  This time the Boost fit the bocal well, and I needed to use a variety of O ring sizes to get the Boost to fit in the bassoon.  This is now the bocal I use on a regular basis, and do not regret putting the Boost on.  I never have issues with it not fitting, and the same characteristics I mentioned about the first bocal were the same on this one.

One little tip I learned, to keep the O rings from slipping around the Boost instead of inside the bassoon like it should, a dab of Duco cement keeps them in place, but is not so permanent that you can't peel it off and replace the O ring if you need.

Nissen already mentioned above his reason not to have more size options available, so it's something that you have to deal with if you have an unusual sized bocal or unusual sized well in your bassoon.  bssnnew, please read some of the above posts to see what has been said on this issue.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Bassoon Boost

has anyone tried this with Puchner bassoon  & Puchner bocal?Is it fit?

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