Topic: Unstable G#

On my aging Puchner as with many other brands of bassoons my students play, the 1/2 hole G# is only reliable for its instability - tends to overblow in running passage work and leaps to upper E. I take great care with the 1/2 hole (making it more like 1/4 hole), and monitor my fingers to check I'm not inadvertently leaking another finger. I suspect it may be a late finger dropping but I can't verify that either.
Any hints?

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Unstable G#

Much of this might be very rudimentary, and I certainly don't mean to insult your intelligence with any of these, but I'll take a few stabs at it.

Is the whisper key getting down fast enough?  Is the whisper key sealing completely?  With any half hole notes we have to make sure the whisper key is down or there could be instability issues (although usually the problem is tone or intonation).

Are there any leaks in the A, B or C keys?  Same issue as whisper key, we don't want leaks.

If any finger is late in coming down I would suspect the middle finger of the left hand.  Especially since that one is on a somewhat awkward tone hole, both in it's placement and it's slanted direction, it's easy to let that one leak.

Is there debris in the F tone hole under the first finger?  Or debris in the tenor joint?  Pipe cleaner the tone hole and swab out really good.  A bit of debris (or spit for that matter) could make unpredictable results in half holed notes.

I agree that 1/4 hole is probably more accurate than 1/2 hole for Ab/G#.  I know many players that leak way too much.

Anything you can do with the reed?  I know if my reeds are closing up on me they'll produce this kind of negative behavior.  Maybe try opening the tip from the first wire just the tiniest bit to add some resistance (if that's really what's happening) to that register.

Ab/G# is a crummy note.  We all have problems with it sometimes.

I hope some of this was helpful, although I'm much less experienced than other members of the board, these are the things that I would check for.

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: Unstable G#

I'm taxing my memory here, but on an IDRS list post some time ago Arthur Grossman offered a reliable alternative to the conventional G# fingering, which causes everyone demons at one time or another. Play the usual half-hole fingering but instead of the G# key use your right thumb A key. (what I can't remember is whether the C# is added to that and I don't have a bassoon out right now). Its awkward for fast passages but produces a rock solid G# when it absolutely has to be there. Play around with it a bit and you'll find the right combination. Comes in handy sometimes.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Unstable G#

Gene,

You mean the Left thumb "A" key.  It works, but it is flat and adding the c# also makes it too sharp. 
I use a little half hole and "don't" use the whisper key.   This for me clears it up when  tonguing G#.    I do use the whisper when holding a G# though.

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Unstable G#

Thanks for the hints - it is mostly a problem for me personally in very fast passage work combined with angular writing or lots of adjacent F#s or arpeggiated passagework - and generally at higher dynamic levels when pushing the envelope . So its quite difficult to pin down the circumstances esp as its not consistent in its unreliability.

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Unstable G#

Have just played a shortish bit in a concert of short pieces - Beethoven Piano Quartet in Eb Rondo - not too difficult but full of Abs and I chose to use my good old standard Puchner crook - all was well. maybe the original probem emanated form my change to a new Leitzinger crook - in an effort to improve my altissimo register. Ot maybe it was just a bad reed day!

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor