Bocal problem?

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    Frank Watson

    I have a fairly advanced HS student whose parents recently bought him a used Fox Renard 220. 34xxx serial number. It’s in pretty good physical shape, a little wear here and there and certainly needs some routine maintenance. He was having trouble with cracking As and Bbs (top of the bass staff), and my usual fix of “flatworm eyes” scraped behind the tip area (effectively narrowing the front of the heart) did not seem to solve the problem. Tried several different reeds, and finally tried several different bocals. The best fit for his bassoon seemed to be a Fox C2 that I sometimes use to play 2nd bassoon because I can get softer and darker easier. This bassoon came with a *CVX*2 and a *CVX*3, which I have always thought were pretty good bocals. Has anyone else had this same experience, and what solution did you finally adopt. I told the mother last night that I would keep searching for a solution. I think they’re going to send the bassoon to a repairman for some servicing later this week..perhaps the problam will abate with better seailng?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated….


    Frank Watson
    Greenville, SC Symphony Orchestra
    Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra


    The obvious question is—does your student flick those notes?

    Does the cracking happen just at the beginning of the note, or is it all the way through? In other words, the notes in question are not ‘overblowing’ completely.

    If they’re not overblowing properly, have you cleaned out the bocal(s) with a bocal brush, and checked to see if the vent hole is plugged?

    Frank Watson

    The notes in question tend to crack as the note is being sustained, not just on attack. We did clean out the bocal, although I neglected to clean out the nipple. He does, generally, flick these notes, although not as consistently as I’d like him to do. I will check the hole in the bocal next time I see him, the bocal he was using (*CVX*2) was not terribly dirty when we cleaned it out, but perhaps there is some debris in the nipple hole.

    Thanks, Chris, for your thoughts

    -Frank Watson

    Kent Moore

    Hi Frank:

    I am not sure there is anything more here but there was a similar thread recently. Hope you solve it. Kent


    Chad Taylor

    Hi Frank:

    I had a friend that bought a prewar style Bell bocal for his 7000 series Heckel. He called me a few months after he bought it in alot of distress saying he cleaned it and that his A’s, Bb’s, an C’s cracked and growled like crazy right after he cleaned it. Now, I couldnt think of anything that could be wrong with it especially since there was absolutely no evidence of it being bent or any cracking in the metal. So I proceeded to clean it again, and when i went in with a small pin to make sure there was no debris in the whisper vent, a small amount of crud came out. I proceeded to take my .034 wire drill bit and just gently went in and pushed and pulled it out of the venthole 2 or 3 times to make sure there was no crud adhered in the venthole. We tried the bocal again and it was just fine.

    I would reccomend you check the venthole, and see if its totally free and clear. Its amazing how that little hole can make such a profound difference in an instruments performance.

    Hope that helps, If you have any questions, Let me know.

    Best Regards,

    Vincent Ellin

    I had a student a few years ago with a Fox Renard that consistently had problems with those notes on her bassoon. The only way this was solved was to actually hold the vent keys down for the duration of the notes. I suspect that the bocal was mis-matched with the bassoon and that the instrument needed a more flexible crook than the Fox one. Sometimes I have found the vent hole in the bocal to be compressed so you might check that first before you contemplate more extreme measures. Although the Fox bocals have improved signicantly over the years I am still not a great fan of them even though I think their bassoons are awesome !!!

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