If you liked a bassoon in particular, go ahead and gush away, there is no problem with that. Just remember that there is someone else who will probably gush on your gushing about another instrument. You loved the 660, I loved the Walters, so I gushed about them. In the end, it always boils down to personal preference and learning to really play the instrument that you have chosen.
I believe that all of the good modern manufacturers have studied the instrument and know even the smallest details of it. They have also been very quick to adopt extremely precise methods of manufacturing that allow them to build bassoon after bassoon to tolerances that were unimaginable even 15 years ago. This means that modern instruments have a bore design that allows them to do it all; the wings are optimized to make the high notes easier, the boots are very well in tune and the bass and bell joints allow the instrument to resonate far better than they ever have. In addition, they can choose wood that has the same specific gravity to ensure that the entire instrument vibrates as one piece. These two advances in instrument making have removed many of the inconsistencies that have existed for years. It is now very rare that a top bassoon maker will make a lousy bassoon. It used to happen all the time.
In fact, Benson Bell has even studied how the bore changes as the wood ages. He builds his bassoons so that the changes that occur will actually make the bassoon better as it gets older. Rather than the bore deteriorating with age, his are supposed to change in the way that the builder wants, so that they will naturally become ideal with age. I have yet to hear many complaints about his bassoons, and around here, (Montreal, Canada) there are a lot of them.
Acoustics are always a problem for any buyer of any musical instrument. That is why all of them offer trials, so that you have the luxury of trying them out in a variety of situations. In the end, though, the best way is to try them in a large room with decent acoustics in front of a bunch of bassoonists. Have them sit a fair distance away, and play different horns to see which ones sound better from their point of view. One day at Oxford, I found a bunch of music students who were doing exactly this; they were sitting in one of the big rehearsal rooms trying different bassoons while their friends were listening on the other side of the room. The results were quite interesting, as their perception of many bassoons changed as they listened from farther away.
Different types of wood is another subject entirely. Many makers have experimented with different types of wood, and in the end they all come back to maple and palisander. I also thought it would be a good idea to make the wing and boot out of a wood that cannot rot as easily and avoid the need for a liner, but every time someone changes the wood, they also change the sound. I thought of the yew bassoon as an attempt to make a German bassoon sound more nasal, or more "pre-war", a sound that I do not particularly appreciate, but that thousands of others love. (I prefer a deeper, darker sound) From what little I understand on the subject, the harder the wood, the more nasal the sound, but that is based on my trying two yew bassoons and two French bassoons, and more maple bassoons than I can possibly count. Quite a few makers always ensure that the wood that is used in any bassoon comes from the same tree to ensure that it will all vibrate in the same way. Choosing two different woods will definitely not allow this, but I am unsure as to how that would affect the instrument.
I was kind of flattered that you referred to my wealth of experience, but please remember that I am not a bassoonist, but rather an English teacher who has been buzzing annoyingly around the periphery of the double-reed world for far too long. Keep that in mind when reading my posts. Trent has far more real-world experience than I do.
Last edited by Dean (2013-02-27 07:03:16)
Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!