Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

Have your professor write financial aid, on their letterhead, stating that this particular thing is a "necessity" for schooling and that it is a part of your school supplies. I have done this for several of my own students to help them get extra financial assistance to purchase instruments. Not yet have I had it denied. If it is worded correctly, the department has no choice but to award the money since it is a necessity in our field of study, to own an instrument.

Shawn Reynolds
Professor of Oboe/EH - Youngstown State University
Howland Schools - MS (director of bands); HS (Asst. Dir of Bands, Marching, Symphonic)


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

The new Fox price list now has most professional bassoons, regardless of wood or model selling for a retail price of $30,000.  This includes 601, 660 and 680.  The pricing of 201's and II's is a bit ambiguous as one is listed at $30K and another in Mountain Maple is listed at $25.5K.  The discount on these horns is usually in the 20% range.  The most expensive Renard model, the 260 has a list price of $19,900 and should discount in the 35% range.

Bob Williams


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

Hello everyone!!

I didn't realize this had become a sticky thread! I hope it's been helpful for others.

Update! I now own a Heckel! Well, an okay one. I bought a 3000 series Heckel last summer. It has a whisper key, and over all is in great condition and plays well enough to get by. Because it was a 3000 series (without a pre-war bocal) it was only 4k to purchase. I was able to afford this by * gasp * my father lending me money. This wasn't a simple handout...I have a formal bank loan through his bank from his savings account. The interest rate for lending out money from a savings account was only 2.9% over 4 years! Quite a deal. I must also mention that 1. my father is in a better financial situation to lend money and 2. I convinced him that I would make payments on the loan solely by money earned from the bassoon itself. So, I've been teaching 4-5 middle and high school students the bassoon each week. This pays double by loan payment and I can actually warrant having an expensive "hobby". (I dropped the idea of attending grad school for musicology and now study library science and database programming while working full time at a university library!)

I am finally having the bassoon serviced. Marvin Kranz is currently working on it. No rot in the U-tube, and only one small crack in the boot where the long joint goes in. Overall, decent shape for a 123 year old instrument! (I did see a copy of Edith Reiter's book and found the delivery date for my Heckel was in 1892 and NOT 1893 as many websites have listed it as).

New question, how do I get my instrument appraised for insurance purposes? Is it worth restoring the instrument (cost vs end value wise)?

Last edited by bassoonsara (2016-02-18 09:04:43)


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

Congrats on your new (to you) bassoon! Thank you both for starting the thread, and for your newest contribution to it.

I have played on only one 3000 series Heckel. That instrument has a charming and distinctive sound, subtly different from what one hears in modern instruments yet that plays well with others (so to speak). I could barely make it work -- it would take a long time to adjust to it were it my instrument -- but its owner makes it sing.

I assume yours plays well at A=440 -- not a guarantee with an instrument of its vintage.

What did you do for a bocal for it?

Re appraisal: Marvin can do that for you; ditto any well-known repairman, if Marvin doesn't feel comfortable doing so for some reason.

Re restoration: alas, we cannot answer that question for you. All we can do is give you some guidance.

Here are a few considerations:

  • How much will the restoration cost?

  • How much will the instrument be improved?

  • How much is the instrument's value likely to increase?

  • How important is the restoration to you, for esthetic or other reasons?

  • How long do you plan to keep the instrument?

To the best of my knowledge, there is little demand for 3000 series Heckels. Unless the original instrument crowd were to turn its attention to the late 19th/early 20th century, it is unlikely that there will ever be strong demand for them. So, the instrument is not likely to appreciate much. OTOH, it has already done most of its depreciating.

How much can you afford to spend? Would that money be better put in the bank to be directed towards your next instrument in some future purchase (if any)?

If you like the instrument, and a restoration were to improve its playing, head off age-related deterioration, make it look better, etc., then it may be worth it to you.


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

The instrument works for me, although I would prefer a more robust sound. The 3000 series Heckel has a more delicate voice, and it's very lovely but not quite fit for me. I can't remember the bocal the seller was giving with it, it was absolutely terrible with the Heckel. Seeing as I had low funds, I traded that bocal ($150) for a standard Fox bocal. It works decently. I had tried a Puchner, a Heckel, and a generic gold bocal and they all sounded fabulous with the instrument. I unfortunately did not have the funds for more than a $400 bocal purchase.

My first investments on the Heckel include a new hard case (it was sold in a soft gig bag that was bending the keys) and complete servicing. I haven't heard back from Marvin yet since dropping it off, so at least that means he hasn't come across any other major repairs.

I guess my next step is a wait and see!! After having it serviced by Marvin it may perform to my liking and I may decide to keep it and spend a little to restore it. It seems that perhaps having it restored would be more to my benefit than much value to the instrument? I would hate to put several thousand (as I have seen in costs for restoration for other older Heckels) into the instrument and not have at least equal added value. I suppose this is something I will discuss further with Marvin and get his opinion. He has restored a couple older Heckels before.

Should I not be completely satisfied after I have finished paying off the Heckel, I may upgrade my bassoon for a 240. Never was much a fan of Renard (never fit my sound) but I can't just jump up to a 660 just yet wink

If you'd like to see the instrument, there are some older photos on the
I own #3705.

Last edited by bassoonsara (2016-02-18 11:57:35)


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

I enjoyed seeing the photos of your instrument.

One of the reasons why the 3000 is no longer in favor is because more modern bassoons have more "robust" sounds. (Another reason is that many of them are not at A=440 -- but I digress.)

However, you can experiment with bocals and reeds to see if you can tailor the sound to be more to your liking.

I wonder if you may be able to find bocals that would better match your instrument -- "pre-WWI" bocals (to coin a phrase) -- out there somewhere.

Also, you can play to the strengths of the instrument.

For example, a bassoonist once said to me that he never understood what was going through Tchaikovsky's head when he wrote the opening solo of the 6th symphony, until for fun he bought and started practicing on a 3000 series. Then it made perfect sense to him. He said that that pianissimo low E entrance is almost child's play on a 3000.

I bet your instrument would be great for quintet and chamber music playing, and chamber orchestras. Maybe less so for concert band playing.

Re "restoration": there are all sorts of levels of restoration available to someone. I've seen 100 year old Heckels that are so restored that they are no longer recognizable as the same instrument; they look almost like new, with modernized keywork. That's way more work, and way more expensive, than you should do at this point in your life and with your current finances and with this instrument. Whatever work you choose to have done should be towards the goals of ensuring that it plays well and to stop any deterioration in its tracks. In the future you can consider updating the keywork, tone holes, appearance, etc. as needed or desired.

Oh -- do you have any plans to leave the country with it? If so, the ivory bell (if it is so equipped) may cause you problems when you reenter the U.S.

If you choose to change instruments from this one, perhaps you should try the newest Renard (260?). Also the 220. You may find either one of those to be more to your taste than a 240, based on what you own and what you've said about your taste in instruments.

Best wishes!

Last edited by William Safford (2016-02-20 21:36:42)


Re: How to Afford a Professional Bassoon?

Congratulations on your 3K Heckel! I currently play on a 56xx Heckel, but I did own a 47xx Heckel that I had restored in 2008. I sold it early this year for a little bit more than what I had invested in it, and the new owner is very happy with the instrument. I had no problem being heard with the 47xx in the community orchestras in which I play--most of the other bassoonists were playing Fox 601s or Renard 240's--but the sound of the old Heckel was much more focused, projecting easily into the back rows of the hall, but not "loud" up close as the modern Fox instruments.

Will Safford's comments are spot on, especially about "restoration". They 47xx Heckel had to be virtually rebuilt at double the cost of its purchase, but the final result was a beautiful, well playing instrument. The 56xx I'm currently playing required far less work to get it playing, and while it is cosmetically nowhere near the appearance of the 47xx I sold, it it has a "woody" sound that I really like...

Marvin Krantz has a very good reputation, and I'm sure he'll steer you in the right direction. He is also know as a "bocal wizard", and he might be able to help you find a suitable bocal!

Good luck and best wishes,
David Bell
Alexandria, VA