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Starting my search for a bassoon

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Home Forums Instruments and Tools Instrument Questions Starting my search for a bassoon

This topic contains 6 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  William Safford 8 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #142803

    Thomas Holly
    Participant

    Hi all! I went to school for bassoon but ended up choosing another career. I started on a new Renard 240 in high school and then purchased a new Fox 601 in college, which I later sold. I haven’t played in at least 12 years but have decided to save up for another bassoon and be a “hobbyist”. I am interested in keywork with precise action, and in being able to express myself by playing lyrically. I don’t need the projection of a pro horn, as at most I’d join a community orchestra one day. My budget is around $10-$15K. My target instruments to try are: another new Fox Renard 240; a new Moosmann M24; a new Wolf 2000 plus; a used Moosmann 100E; a used Fox 201. I would also consider a new Fox 460 but aesthetically I can’t get on board with the long bell and candy apple red color; just my personal preference. Any recommendations within my relatively limited budget? Any positives or negatives from my listed horns? Also, anyone ever try a Fox 680 or 685? Well outside my budget; just curious how people are liking them.

    #143096

    William Safford
    Participant

    Hi Thomas. I see that nobody has responded to your questions yet, so I’ll try to help you a bit. I have been in a similar position to yours, having returned to playing (years ago) after a hiatus, so I have been through you are now going through.

    I can’t give you a definitive answer: “Buy x, and your bassoon career will be perfect!” Well, I suppose I could, but it wouldn’t be sincere. 🙂

    You were a bassoon major, so you already have some idea about bassoons, as opposed to someone who is a beginner or novice. That helps.

    My thought is that you want a bassoon that takes less work to play well.

    My opinion is that thin-wall long bore bassoons are easier to play than many others: bassoons such as the Fox Model II and the Renard 220, and whatever their equivalents are in the Moosmann and other lines. (Those Fox instruments are modeled on 4000 series Heckels.)

    The 240 and 201 are very good instruments, what Fox called short-bore instruments (modeled on 6000 Heckels, I think). They are said to have a more singing sound in the tenor register, which you may find appealing. However, their intonation isn’t always as even, especially low E and low D, which tend sharp. But many people love them, and I came very close to buying a 201 when I was instrument shopping when I was in your shoes some years ago.

    I am less familiar with Moosmann instruments, and I haven’t played a Wolf bassoon in many years, so I can’t comment on them in much detail. The manufacturers are certainly reputable. I have not yet played a Fox 680 or 685, so I can’t comment on them from personal experience. Puchners are also worthy of attention.

    So, my advice? Try instruments, see what you like, make a purchase, and practice!

    Here are a few other thoughts.

    Resale value: no bassoon holds its value as well as a Heckel, but Fox instruments do okay. At least in the U.S., Moosmann and other brands may not hold their value quite as well.

    Budget: do you plan to make reeds? If so, then reed tools need to be part of your budgeting. If not, then buying reeds needs to be in your budget.

    You mention keywork. Several repairman I know like the keywork on Foxes. Just FWIW. Also, is the standard keywork acceptable to you, or do you want additional keywork and/or nonstandard key layouts? If the latter, then you many want to choose an instrument that you can order customized to your needs. I know that Fox pro bassoons can be ordered with many options, and can be retrofitted at the factory, whereas the Renards are standardized. But a new pro Fox is out of your budget.

    Re the Renard 460: The long bell actually makes sense if you want a Gentleman’s model (which is an advantage especially when carrying your bassoon onto an airplane). The Canadian company Bell seems to have standardized on the long bell, for example. As for the color, that is personal preference, of course, but if the stain is the same as on my new Fox contrabassoon, I think it’s nice looking. I’ve always liked red bassoons, especially Heckels of recent vintage. Re the 460 itself, I’ve never played one, so I have no opinion on it.

    I hope this helps.

    #143102

    Thomas Holly
    Participant

    Thanks so much William! I appreciate your help. I was surprised at the silence on this forum, versus receiving a ton of feedback on the “Bassonists United” Facebook page. Since posting, I’ve decided on a new Fox Renard 240, because as you mention it is relatively easy to play and that was my first horn in high school. It is also a lot of bassoon for the buck! I already have a big order for bassoon reed making supplies on the way. I used to make my own reeds, and will also buy a couple pre-made ones so I can ease back into things at my own pace without frustration. I appreciate your thoughtful post and with your advice feel validated I am making the right call!

    #143103

    William Safford
    Participant

    You’re welcome. Alas, this forum has become close to moribund since IDRS changed software platforms a year or two ago, and with the ascension of social media such as Facebook. I have never subscribed to Facebook, so I did not see your posting there.

    Congrats on the Fox 240! They are, indeed, very good bassoons for the money.

    My recommendation for a small addition to the instrument: a High A bridge. Any competent repairman can do it for you. It will improve your high Ab and A, as well as improve your mid-range A when using the vent/flick key.

    #143104

    Thomas Holly
    Participant

    Oh good call! I just looked at the 691 which I had once and it comes standard with a high A bridge, but the 240 does not. I wonder if I could pay to have Fox install it or if I should buy an affordable after-market high A bridge and have someone reputable install it.

    #143105

    Thomas Holly
    Participant

    Oops I meant I used to have a 601.

    #143106

    William Safford
    Participant

    I do not know if Fox will install a high A bridge on a Renard. I know that they will on a professional Fox, but I suspect that they won’t on a Renard.

    There are aftermarket gadgets. Here is one of them:

    High A Bridge Keys – also works as a Low C#-D# trill key

    Any reputable bassoon repairman can install a high A bridge. Depending on where you live, there may be one near you.

    The 601 is a very good instrument. I had one for over a decade, and liked it a lot. I switched instruments, because the vast majority of my playing these days is 2nd/3rd/4th/contra (last weekend notwithstanding), and I decided that I need an instrument that could play pianissimo with less effort. But they are very good, and many people play beautifully on them.

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