Topic: Yamaha bassoons and the overblown octave

Hello,

I have a few students that own Yamaha bassoons. There is a prevailing problem with many of these horns that is driving me CRAZY! The overblown octave A and Bb are quite unstable ( often quite sharp and quickly go flat when you try to compensate), on many of the horns. I am not sure which models are the biggest problem, the 821, 811 or 812. I know of at least 4 instruments with this problem and noticed that when I was trying out all the instruments on the floor in Oxford,  Ohio, all the Yamaha instruments had a similar problem. The more expensive models were MORE obvious. Using the high A and C vents helps a little to stabilize the pitch as does using the low C# key, but, not entirely. Maybe the problem comes from eliminating the additional Ab hole without changing the bore? I have read that the Yamahas are a copy of certain Heckel bassoons, (7,000 and 8,000 series?) that most likely had two Ab holes? Maybe that is the problem? A longer, wider, lower voiced reed also helps a little, but not entirely.

Anyway, anybody with experience that can point me in the correct direction?

Happy New Year,

Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Yamaha bassoons and the overblown octave

SORRY, I reposted this in the intrument posts, I was not paying attention,
Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Yamaha bassoons and the overblown octave

Hi Steve,

I've played on a YFG-812 for 16 years and I've experienced something close to this a few times as well. I read online that Yamaha used Heckel #8605 (1942) as a prototype.  I'd venture to guess that they used this to develop the YFG-811 since it was the first one they produced in 1987 according to their website. By this time, I believe Heckel was using a single A flat key mechanism. The YFG-812 is supposedly modeled after a 13,000 series Heckel, but I've also read 11,000.  The YFG-812 wasn't produced until 1989 and the 13,000 series Heckel started in or around 1986 making the 11,000 seem slightly more realistic from a "get one and replicate it" perspective. In either case, my having experienced the unstable "A" phenomenon debunks the hypothesis that it's related to the second A-flat key.

On my instrument, it is the low A that seems to want to "sit between the nodes" as my horn-playing wife describes it. Sometimes i notice it on the top-line A, but not usually.  It's possible that it blows into the next octave, but maybe I've just adapted over the years.  Whenever I notice this, it's either time to scrape a bit more reed in the area south of the "eyes" of the reed, or to check the height of the low G pad cup.  Betsy Sturdevant, Columbus SO, posted a piece on her blog about the critical importance of the height of this pad to the intonation and stability of the notes in the boot.  I find this to be "bang-on" advice and nodded in agreement the whole time I read her post. 

I also find the low A  instability worse with poorer bocals.  I've been through lots of bocals trying to change a bassoon with a thick wall and a "rich authoritative sound..." into one with a "greater degree of flexibility..." in other words, trying to get this tank of a bassoon to play more delicately in a pp section, a continuo part or a ww5- a fool's errand, I'm sure.  What I've noticed with the unstable boot notes is that the bocals that overblow their harmonics in tune are generally more stable on the low A and that the bocals whose harmonics overblow out of tune are potentially more unstable on the low A.  I just bought two new bocals to add to my growing collection and neither seem to be unstable on the A.

My local Yamaha dealer has a brand new YFG-821 in stock and I'm going to go try it out compared with my YFG-812 and I'll report back if I notice the same phenomenon.  I've probably played about ten Yamaha bassoons over the years when I've run into them but I didn't notice this as a Yamaha-specific quirk.  I'd love others with more experience with Yamahas to throw in their two cents.

Elliott MacDonald
Ottawa, Canada

Last edited by 6bassoon9 (2013-01-04 08:47:42)

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Re: Yamaha bassoons and the overblown octave

Hello Elliot,
Thanks for the input. It may be that the Yamaha bassoons in Europe are a little different, I just came across two more Y-812 with wild overblown A problems, students in our orchestra school. I put a little surgical tape in the tone hole, (the whole diameter, lowering the pad height created too much air in the sound). I did it for my sanity as well because his A's were horribly out of tune in the group, he was pretty happy about the stability of the A, not to mention, he could remove the tape if he ever needed to. My lower voiced reeds and Heckel bocals do little do help the problem on these horns.
Thanks again for the comment,
Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.