Topic: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Hi all, I hope someone can help me with this-- in the last week, my bocal hisses from the whisper key hole, whenever the whisper key is open. I've cleaned the bocal several times, and made sure that the hole is not impeded in any way, but still it persists. I'm not sure that it's audible from any distance but it's driving me crazy!

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

How did you make sure there is nothing in the small whisper key hole?  Did you put something in there?  I often clean this hole out with something on the soft side.  Be sure what you use will not damage or enlarge the hole.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

I used a piece of brass wire and very gently poked in to the hole. I guess it's possible that there may be some gunk still in there, as the wire was slightly smaller than the hole, but I also soaked it in warm water in the hopes of loosening any dirt.

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

I have also used the brass wire but I have to be careful recommending it because it could damage the hole if it is rough or too large.  Did you put it in far enough so you could see it come all the way through.  Did you also blow hard into the hole to be sure there is no water there.  A long shot but you never know.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Yeah, I could see it coming out the other side. I've blown through it, I even used one of those pressurized air canisters to blow even harder through it, and it persists.

Last edited by thirteenthcory (2014-02-01 23:12:18)

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Hey, that sounds like a whisper key pad. (You can turn the bocal away from the pad to check that or you could also try another bocal). When the pad gets old and dry it can do that, sometimes even a new pad does it. The other cause can simply be the pad is too close. I have a student with a Walter that has the whisper pad too close, it hisses. You could also try removing the key to see if the hissing stops. A new pad might do the trick, years ago I didn't have a spare pad and I glued a small suede disc to the pad and that did it. I put a Valentino synthetic cork pad on my daughters whisper for that problem, also because she kept tearing the leather off the pad.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Yes, I bet marydoob is right. The whisper key pad is probably old and the skin may be loose.  Too close is another possibility but has the distance changed?  The whisper key pads are really easy to replace and cheap too.  I have bought them in pairs from Forrests I think for a few $ but I bet you can get them from many different places.  Take the whisper key off and then heat the cup slightly with an alcohol lamp. It is best to use a clean flame so you don't blacken the key.  If there is enough shellac or adhesive left then you won't need any more for the new pad but you might also need some sort of adhesive.  I have a stick of furniture glue that a repair person gave me and it has lasted for years.  Good luck with it.  Let us know what you find.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

It doesn't hiss with another bocal on though... I'll give it a try anyway! Thanks!

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Are the holes a different distance to the pad with a different bocal.  Yes worth a try.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

I wonder (in addition the great advice above) if the bocal has shifted. If it has, it might be wiggling or slightly out place [or else moving when you play]... if the cork has thinned out it might shift and cause the whisper key to vent slightly.

I know my Kohlert could use a new whisper key pad although there are number of lower keys that need replacement much more badly! Good luck!

Cor anlgais and Contrabassoon enthusiast!

Amateur in all regards, but learning! I love unusual and unique instruments!

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Thanks guys, you're right, it was the pad!

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Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Great.  Glad you got it solved.

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

Re: Hissing Bocal-- Help!

Me too, gotta love the forum!

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