Topic: Bell Bassoons

Although this may have changed buy the time I'm ready to upgrade my horn, I've been trying to decide between having a Bell bassoon made for me or possibly buying a used Heckel.  I was wondering if anyone had any experience with both, and if they had any recommendations for me.

Associate Principal Bassoon/Contrabassoon, Kansas City Symphony

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Nothing against a Bell bassoon, which I've never tried personally but have heard great things about, but when you order a new bassoon you get what you get, like it or not. A used instrument, on the other hand, you can try and even compare with other ones.

Just my $.02

Paul Barrett
   -Principal Bassoonist, Honolulu Symphony
    -Lecturer in Bassoon, University of Hawaii

Re: Bell Bassoons

That's true, but doesn't the same go for a new Heckel, which costs even more?

Associate Principal Bassoon/Contrabassoon, Kansas City Symphony

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Yes. So, IMHO, if you want to be sure of getting an instrument you like, you need to be able to play it before you buy it. (This is the big risk in buying an instrument on eBay, too, unless you have an agreement to return it if you don't like it!)

Paul Barrett
   -Principal Bassoonist, Honolulu Symphony
    -Lecturer in Bassoon, University of Hawaii

Re: Bell Bassoons

If I may qoute from the Bell Bassoon website:

"There are no additional charges for custom key work when ordered as a custom instrument. Gold plated keys are extra. There is a full refund if, after 30 days, you decide to return the bassoon."

So you are not exactly stuck with the bassoon, if you do not like it.  But going by the 2 or 3 I have played they are wonderfull, you just have to be patient until it is ready.
Another bonus over a new heckel, is that there is no charge for additional keywork.  I recently priced out what a brand new heckel would cost, and though the basic model beings ~$25,000.  with some standard proffesional extras (rollers ect...), but nothing unusual it was in the neighborhood of $42,000, and this you do not have the option of returning as far as U an aware.

-Justin

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Re: Bell Bassoons

The money-back guarantee sounds hard to beat. 

Long ago (when new, basic Heckel's cost  $922) the best bet in an unseen new instrument was always Heckel.  Someone would always buy the name even if it wasn't that great a horn.

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Justin, could you give some more description of the Bell bassoons? What do they compare to, e.g. which model by other makers do they remind of? They say they adapt the instruments to each musician, how big differences are we actually talking about?

As far as I understand, Bell makes only one basic model adapted to each buyer, and they have no cheaper "student model" or anything like it, is that correct?

Jon

Jon Halvor Lund
bassoon - contrabassoon
Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra

Re: Bell Bassoons

James Keyes in Nashville told me that he worked on a Bell bassoon that was amazing and almost an exact copy of a great 6000 series Heckel.

I've never played one, but that's what I can relate about them.

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: Bell Bassoons

Hi TK:
I'm just wondering if you ever ordered the Bell or found a used Heckel.  I know a few people who have the Bell bassoon and they love them.  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Bell Bassoons

So far I have just stuck with my trusty 601.   I've started to look around for a Heckel, but I'd definitely like to try a Bell before deciding to order one.

Associate Principal Bassoon/Contrabassoon, Kansas City Symphony

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Have you considered a Heckel Crest? Despite the fact they're listed as "student" instruments, I love mine and play it professionally. They come with all the bells and whistles; the only thing I had added to mine was a French whisper key and high-A bridge. I also think Midwest Musical Imports keep a couple in stock, so you might be able to try one before you buy it, too.

"It's not my job to give you the pulse! It's your job to figure it out!"
-An Allegedly Professional Conductor

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Hi Tyler:
I have never tried a Crest nor have I ever known anyone to own one until now.  How would you describe it?  How would you compare the tone and flexibility, etc with other Heckels and other makes.  How is the pitch?  I know some of these things are difficult to describe and to compare too.  No two Heckels are alike.  I assume the tone is just like other Heckels.  Is that right?  Looks like they are about $25000.   Thanks.  Just interested in your impressions--whatever you have to say about it.  I wonder how consistent they are.  Did you get to try a few?  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Bell Bassoons

Kent Moore wrote:

How would you describe it?

It's essentially the same instrument, except Heckel won't customize it in any way. I wrote the factory with some questions before buying it more than five years ago, and in response they wrote that it's made of exactly the same wood and dimensions. My repairman says he noticed two differences: 1) the lacquer is sprayed on; and 2) the key work appears to be of a lesser quality silver. He also believes the key work is being outsourced by Heckel, but I'm unsure of the veracity of that statement.

How would you compare the tone and flexibility, etc with other Heckels and other makes?

I've only played on three other Heckels (5,000; 10,000; and 12,000), but I believe the tone on mine most closely resembles a 10,000 series. Like most Heckels, it's extremely flexible. On my instrument, the low register is especially responsive, a boon to a second player like me.

How is the pitch?

Excellent. Before I got my Crest I was playing on my school's 10,000 series and noticed a difference right away. I would say the pitch is more like a Fox bassoon rather than the stereotypical Heckel. I hate the B-flat on my horn (it’s really squirrelly), and the high A has a tendency to be sharp, but I think that can be said of most bassoons.

Did you get to try a few?

I ordered mine directly from the factory. At that time, no one in the U.S. was selling them. I was looking to buy a new horn because I had been using school instruments up to that point and was graduating soon. I tried a colleague's Crest and was really impressed with her instrument. The Crest was the same price as a Fox 601 (about $16,500), and although I think the Fox is a great instrument, I still prefer the greater flexibility in tone that a Heckel seems to have. I don’t think I could be happier with any other horn.

"It's not my job to give you the pulse! It's your job to figure it out!"
-An Allegedly Professional Conductor

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Re: Bell Bassoons

Thanks Tyler.  Very Interesting.  I hope I can get to a convention some time to try them.  I play a 7000 series Heckel from 1931 so it would be interesting to compare.  Thanks again, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Bell Bassoons

Does Bell only sell to Professionals.  I e-mailed him twice and never received replies?

Robert Stein
UCLA
Los Angeles, CA

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