I have a new bassoon as well, and the swaps that came with it are reputed to be 'the best in the world'. I think not. To me, a swab must be absorbent and crushable, so that it can easily go through the bore, and press itself against the side of the bore to be able to absorb water effectively. The best swabs that I have ever seen are chamois swabs that I made myself; they far outperformed any commercially made swabs that I have ever seen. I had the same bassoon for 31 years, and I would pull my swabs through exactly once after practicing or playing. In spite of that, I never had a hint of any humidity problems in my horn.
The problem that I see with silk is the fact that it does not actually absorb much water. Silk is very similar to polyester in that it absorbs less than 3 percent of its weight in water. Cotton can absorb as much as double its weight. The all time champion is viscose (Sham-wow, hikers towels) which can absorb something like 9 times it's weight in water, and are quite crushable as well.
If you decide to make a swab, make sure that you make it as a double pull style, which means that the string that you use (climbing accessory cord: incredibly strong and abrasion resistant) is long enough that if it gets stuck in the bore, you can pull it back out. Sew the cord for the entire length that it contacts the swab, and by trial and error, pull it into the bore of the bassoon. If it jams, stop, pull it out backwards and cut some material off of the sides of the swab. Try again, and again until it is the right length. I will be making my own as soon as I visit my Mom, as she still has a sewing machine. I will be using an old hiking towel to make it, but the weights might be a bit problematic. Last time, I used a fishing sinker. I do not want to do that with my new horn, though. We'll see.
Last edited by Dean (2010-12-23 18:43:19)
Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
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