Topic: Flat high F

Hi everyone,

I have been having great difficulty with the pitch of the F above middle C. The fingering I use is the standard xox|xxo. When using the same embouchure and breath support that places other tenor register notes in tune I find that the F is 30 to 50 cents flat. I find it possible (but very difficult) to push the note up to pitch by increasing air pressure while biting. Adding the Eb key makes it easier to bite/blow up to pitch, but also makes it very difficult to play the note cleanly while using normal air pressure and embouchure.

Surrounding notes do not seem to be a problem, and I had the same issue on the bassoon I played during my high school years, so I suspect that this is mainly a reed issue. If anyone has some advice on how I might be able to remedy this problem, I would be most grateful!

Michael Macaulay
2nd Bassoon, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Re: Flat high F

Hi Michael.

The aperture of a key G is possible  insufficiently opened. Remove a key G and try to play F. Clean an aperture a key G.

Mikhail

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Re: Flat high F

You should be adding the Eb resonance key to that note, as that does help bring up the pitch and match tone color.

Like Mikhail said though, the primary reason this was an issue on one of my bassoons was that the A tone hole (the one that gets covered when you engage the G key) doesn't open the correct amount.  It might not be as serious as the tone hole being clogged, but it could simply be the pad doesn't come up enough.  The easiest way to let the pad open more is to shorten the plastic rod that connects the touch to the pad, the rod that goes through the boot joint.  Remember though that if you cut the rod you can't put it back, so take it to a good bassoon repair person that can see if that is truly the adjustment that needs to be made, and can make the right adjustment for you.

If you want to try it yourself though you can take a coffee stirring straw (the little skinny kind) and cut it to the length of the rod as it is, then cut it a little bit shorter.  Place that in your horn instead of the stock rod and see if it helps the problem.  If you find that making it a bit shorter corrects the issue you can make a more permanent change to the original plastic rod.  Be sure to check not only the F you're having problems with, but also the two A's below that, as well as C#, as that can become unstable with adjustment to this tone hole.  When in doubt, go to a competent repair person.

For me on my old instrument it was the opposite problem, the pad opened too much, leading to relatively sharp F4, A3 and A4 and an unstable C# in the staff.  Adding cork to make the tone hole less open when the touch was not engaged helped the problem immensely.

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: Flat high F

Hello All:





      Before you start cutting action rods I would like to throw some technical jargon at all of you to hopefully bring some further light to adjusting the bassoon mechanism for any reason. To adjust venting of any woodwind instrument should not be done by an action rod. Resizing an action rod is adjust what is referred as an articulation point. Articulation point are where a key makes contact with another key, An articulation point is only adjusted when a key is not allowing another key to close properly. Venting is adjusted and a body contact point. Body contact points are foot corks and sometimes in the case of a bassoon, an actual pads thickness.

    In the instance of the  A tone hole,  The spot to adjust the foot cork on the G key touchpiece (the proper term for this key and touch piece is the A key, and the A lever) there is a foot cork on the opposite side of of the touch area the foot area is usually covered up by a guard. Take the guard off, and with a piece of 320 grit sandpaper pull the sandpaper (gritside towards the cork) until the top of the pad cup is either levele or just slightly above the gurad just above the bootcap. If that doest help, Then I would enlist the expertise of a QUALIFIED bassoon tech. But please do not adjust the action rod, this could cause some headaches in the regulation and function of that mechanism. There is indeed certian procedures and protocol that exsists to doing above said adjustments. If players are going to do these adjustments, they should be done with the same methods that most technicians use.


    I hope this helps, any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

                                          Best Regards,
                                           Chad Taylor

Taylor Bassoon Services
723 Steamboat Ct
Ottawa, IL 61350
PH-815-343-2492

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Re: Flat high F

Thank you for correcting me Chad.  I guess since my issue I had was needing the opposite adjustment I just thought the wrong concept to go the other direction.  That's why I tried to point several times at going to a technician for any real work.

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