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Mahmood Belov
Mahmood Belov

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I am the bassoon specialist at Hodge Products. One aspect of this responsibility is to evaluate our bassoon products to see where updates might be made. I decided that reeds would be the most useful place to start. So where possible, I played eight reeds in every line of reeds that we sell. This was to determine what were the best and most consistent qualities across each line. My hope is that by going through this process, I can guide you to the reed that you feel could be the best fit for your needs or those of your students. Included is a chart to help you identify the traits you are looking for with as much information as I can give you.

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Our new line of reeds from are made by Canadian-born Andrew Burn, now living and working in Switzerland. Andrew specializes in making reeds for historical instruments. The reeds we carry are those he makes for the modern bassoon. We are the exclusive distributor of his bassoon reeds.

Reeds by David Brundage are a best seller at Hodge Products. David is a retired military-performing bassoonist. The trait of reliability from his military background comes through in his reeds. The consistency from reed to reed is fantastic! Made from hand-selected cane from a variety of brands, shaped on a shaper that Brundage designed himself, and play tested for reliability, I find these reeds to produce an incredibly dark sound, with no buzz.

I find these reeds to be suitable for advancing high school level players and up, but that a stable embouchure is important. The overall stability of these reeds increases as they are played on and broken in. A thicker profile is found on these reeds. They are made from Gonzalez cane on a Fox number 2 shaper. If you are looking for stable reeds overall with some flexibility, these bassoon reeds are a great option.

This combination also means that they will be better for advancing students who have a great quantity of air or very fast air, and the player will need either a very strong embouchure or to place the lips almost touching the first wire, to play them up to pitch. I suspect that embouchure placement to be more traditional in the European schools of bassoon performance, but I have limited knowledge and experience in that matter.

Again, the Danzi Professional bassoon reed differs from their student reed primarily in terms of strength/hardness. These reeds are also built in the European style with longer blades and a shorter distance between the first and second wires. They also tend toward flatness unless the player has a very strong air supply. Much like their student reeds, the strength is marked medium, but I found them to be fairly hard.

We currently have three medium reeds in stock. I have played all three. They are very consistent in tone color, pitch, and response, including a fast articulation. A Légère reed should last a few months to over a year, depending on how heavily it is used and maintained. There is a bit of maintenance and adjustment information online that you should read if you buy one. Only you can decide if this is worth it, but I do know of several professional players who keep a Légère as a backup in their bassoon or reed case.

Update: In the last month (Oct. 2018) Légère has released new bassoon reeds in a Medium Hard strength. We have a couple of them in stock along with two more in the Medium. What are the differences? Not many. They seem to be designed after the same shape, which is slightly narrower than a Fox 2. Because the proprietary plastic formula can be controlled more exactly, these reeds seem to be thinner than most cane reeds and shorter as well. That being said, the Légère reeds average 54 mm in length, but there is a range of 53-55 mm. The width across the tips are very similar across both strengths, 14.7-15.0 mm. These differences may be due to play testing and individual adjustments at the factory.

Much like each bassoon and bocal plays differently, each reed is still subject to individuality and slightly different playing characteristics. I believe someone is accounting for this. All of these reeds played with good pitch on my equipment, with an even scale and stable core sound, with some flexibility in color choices. As expected, the medium hard reeds are harder. They produced a slightly darker sound than the medium for me and had noticeably more resistance in the high register (think Rite of Spring high C). It was noticeable to me because I prefer a light, free-blowing reed.

The following chart, I hope, will be useful as a quick glance comparing hardness. It is arranged by price. None of these lines of reeds, other than Légère, comes with a choice of hardness. Of the Légère reeds, we stock the medium and medium hard. These are their only two options for bassoon reeds at this time. Cane, however, is a living thing, and it varies piece to piece even from the same grower and the same harvest season.

Every player needs a slightly different reed. Each player is different, as is every bassoon and bocal. Environment and elevation also affect reed performance. Drier climates and higher elevations need thinner reeds to perform well. You or your teacher can tailor them to suit your specific needs. Your reed is a tool to help you achieve your musical expression, so it is important to find reliable reeds unless you choose to make your own. The search for a good bassoon reed will continue as long as you choose to play, so embrace the challenge and rise up to it!

An active bassoonist in the New England area, a specialist in bassoon repair and an authorized dealer of Fox Bassoons, Jim Kirker plays and works on each bassoon he sells to make sure it is in top playing shape before he will let it out of his shop. Jim now has many satisfied customers worldwide, including customers in England, Mexico, and even Rumania. He also carries a complete line of Fox bassoon accessories.

Please note, even though I have never had a bassoon returned to me after the trial period was over, because of the Covid-19 pandemic I have ended the two week trial period for bassoons for the foreseeable future.

"the Fox Renard 240 bassoons you shipped for my pupils are nearly as good as the professional instruments I've played on, how do Fox make so much bassoon for so little money?" - Ian Glen, Bassoon Player and Teacher. England"

For intermediate and professional bassoon players, the top makers are Fox, Püchner, Yamaha and Moosmann. At the very pinnacle are instruments made by Heckel, the firm that reinvented the bassoon back in the 19th century.

These German instruments are well made, reliable and easy to play for beginners and intermediate bassoonists. The sound is warm but with good projection, and the keywork has all the essentials without any unnecessary complications.

Nobel is the new kid on the block when it comes to woodwind instruments and a lot of work has gone into refining the ABS since they started in 2002. Their bassoons are very consistent and resilient with a good sound, making them a good pick for bands and schools. Extra features like the choice of ring key or plateau key on the wing joint make them nicely adaptable too.

Hard rubber bassoons are quite new to the market, but a lot of research has gone into developing them. Nobel hard rubber bassoons have been designed by experts and make a good choice as hard-wearing instruments for school or outdoor band use.

Schreiber bassoons make an excellent choice for student or intermediate instruments. You get good quality for the price with these well-made instruments. As a bonus, they tend to hold resale value well too.

As a concert bassoonist and contrabassoonist, Huang has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and the Charlotte, Albany, New Haven, Princeton, and Delaware symphony orchestras and travels regularly across the United States and China. Before completing her doctorate at SUNY Stony Brook she earned degrees from the Eastman and Yale schools of music. 041b061a72


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