Topic: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

I would appreciate if anyone could tell me something of the history of the Lesher Woodwind Company. I am particularly interested in their bassoons. I would like to know what the quality is like. They are fairly rare here in the UK and I have yet to come across one in good playable condition that I can give a fair play test. I expect there are a lot more of them in the USA.

I understand they were bought by Selmer in 1968, according to this website:

https://www.saxophone.org/museum/saxoph … facturer/1

I quote from the above website: "In 1968 Selmer bought the Lesher Woodwind Company, a manufacturer of oboes and bassoons. Lesher had been making instruments for Selmer and putting the Selmer trademark on them. After the buyout Selmer dropped the Lesher trademark and used Lesher's tooling."

Does this mean that no Lesher bassoons were made (or at least stamped as Lesher) after 1968?

I understand that Selmer German system bassoons don't have a great reputation with a number of people. However, I have an (elderly) acquaintance who played professionally on an old Selmer Bundy bassoon for his entire professional career as a bassoonist (this is going back some decades), including playing it on the sound track to the original 1968 Oliver Twist film. It can't have been that bad a bassoon - in fact he assured me it is a great bassoon, and he has played it across Europe sitting next to some quite well-known bassoonists. I tried to give it a play but unfortunately it had ancient pads leaking so badly that I could barely get a note out of it.

I suspect that, as a lot of these instruments are sold into schools, they do not get treated too well, and they do not get maintained regularly and to a high enough standard. Much of the negative feedback people give about them may be due to them not playing properly as a result. I am theorising here.

I would like to know what these bassoons are like when in good playing condition and thus given a fair play test.

I am interested in all bassoons and their history, but for me Lesher and Selmer have slipped through the net somewhat. Any extra information on the history of these companies, and on the quality of their bassoons, would be appreciated.

Oliver Ludlow

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

I have never played a Lesher or Selmer bassoon that I felt played in tune with typical proper bassoon fingerings, even when brand new. They generally have less than well designed ergonomics as well.

I can't speak to the quality of the wood or the treatment/aging technology used there.

The plastics used by these brands is typically quite heavy compared to the Fox polypropylene material.

One thing I can say is that both Selmer and Lesher have undergone many model and design changes over the years, so there may be some vintage instruments that play quite well, from specific models in specific time periods. Fox actually made stencil instruments for Conn (Selmer) for a while, so I wouldn't put it outside of the realm of possibility that many Selmer and Lesher bassoons were made by Schreiber, Kohlert, or any number of other firms in Europe or Asia throughout the years, but just as stencil instruments then branded as the final seller.

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: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Lesher Woodwind began making bassoons in Elkhart, Indiana in 1950.  Soon after they started making bassoons for Selmer since both were located in Elkhart.  In 1968 Selmer bought Lesher and moved their tooling to their woodwind factory on N. Main Street in Elkhart.

Bryan Cavitt
Bassoonist, Bassoon Dad, and proud Elkhartan!

Share

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Lesher and Selmer instruments are student quality instruments and not more. When I started, the first instrument I owned was a Selmer Soloist Bassoon, and I was often playing solo because some notes were so far out of tune.  That being said, I did try one early Lesher that felt and sounded like a professional instrument.  However I have never found any others that were even remotely like that one.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

Share

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Dean wrote:

...When I started, the first instrument I owned was a Selmer Soloist Bassoon, and I was often playing solo because some notes were so far out of tune.

lol  I'm going to quote you, Dean, the next time I hear somebody playing out of tune!

Christopher Brodersen
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Reviewer/contributor - Fanfare Magazine
Amateur bassoonist, baroque oboist, baroque bassoonist

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Feel free to do so.  I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

Share

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Thanks all for the interesting thoughts on this/these makers. Hopefully I will get to try one at some point in the UK.

Oliver Ludlow

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Oliver, one word of advice.  Don't.  If you want a decent bassoon at a decent price, go for a Takeda, Wolf, M Bassoon or something along those lines. Selmer US bassoons are NOT worth it.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

Share

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

I'm not interested in them for myself or anyone else. Purely interested in bassoons by different makers. Thanks for the warning though!

Oliver Ludlow

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

Oliver, I started on a school owned wooden Linton bassoon, a bad instrument beyond compare. Fortunately, in my third year I had saved up enough money to buy a Puechner...

David Bell
Alexandria, VA

David Bell
Alexandria, VA
amateur bassoon and contra bassoon

Share

Re: Lesher and Selmer bassoon query

And, out of interest, what do you play on now, David?

Oliver Ludlow