Bassoon Buying Guide

The process of purchasing a bassoon for your child can be difficult. Not only is a bassoon an investment in your child’s future, but it can be an expensive one. Throughout the shopping process, several questions need to be asked and answered before you can make the best choice. Do I really need to buy a bassoon, or will renting suffice? What’s the difference between plastic and wood bassoons? Does brand really matter? Which accessories will I need? For answers to these questions and more, continue reading Music & Arts’ very own bassoon buying guide, and feel free to head into a store or contact us online for more information about bassoons.

What Size Do I Need?

Begin the process by considering the size of bassoon your child needs. If your child is young and/or has small hands, keep an eye out for mini or short reach bassoons. The bassoon is a large instrument that requires large hands to play, so in order to facilitate children and adults with smaller hands, manufacturers have designed bassoons to fit people with different hand sizes, ranging from very small to large. Mini bassoons are a great choice for children up to 9 years of age, while short reach bassoons are full-sized bassoons but with extended key work for older children and adults with smaller hands. Typically preferred by children between 10-13, short reach bassoons are also good choices for adults who don’t have large hands. Finally, full-size bassoons are the standard size for adults and younger people with larger hands. Most children transition into a full-size bassoon by the age of 13.

Are Beginner Bassoons OK?

Typically, bassoons are segmented into three different categories: beginner or student bassoons, intermediate bassoons, and professional bassoons. Beginner bassoons are designed for those who are just starting out on the bassoon, and are very basic in nature. Although some music teachers and band directors will allow students to play student bassoons at the beginning, most students transition into intermediate oboes after a year or so of lessons. As you probably imagined, intermediate bassoons fall between student and professional models, and are the most common type of bassoon available on the market. They generally produce crisp, clear tones and, in most cases, are suitable to be played through high school. Professional bassoons, on the other hand, should be reserved for those who are studying bassoon in college or who plan on playing professionally. For the purpose of purchasing a bassoon for your child, professional models should be avoided, if only for the sheer cost associated with them.

Which Material is Better?

When it comes to bassoons, they’re typically constructed from plastic or wood. Plastic is a material that appears in all skill levels and, contrary to what some may lead you to believe, are a great choice for your child’s bassoon. Not only are plastic bassoons one of the most durable options, but they’re resistant to most humidity and temperature concerns. It’s also extremely affordable, which is a big reason why the majority of student and intermediate bassoons are manufactured out of plastic. For top-quality construction, wood is by far the most popular choice. Just keep in mind that are less durable and require much more maintenance than their plastic counterparts. When it comes to material, it’s ultimately a personal choice:: both materials make great bassoons.

Fox Renard Model 222 Bassoon Standard
Key of C. Black maple body, full German system, long bore. Linings in the wing joint and small bore of the boot joint. German bell (white ring); Nickel silver keys with silverplating; plateau keys on wing joint third finger hole; rollers on F, Ab, Eb, and Db. A440 tuning ± one cent. Includes fine plush-lined case, #2 and #3 C bore bocals. Learn More

What Does “German System” Mean?

As you shop for bassoons, you’ll probably notice that a lot of the instrument and product descriptions make reference to a full “German System.” Also referred to as the Heckel system, the German system is played by most of the world’s bassoonists, both professional and amateur, while bassoonists in France, Belgium, and Latin America play the French, or Buffet, system. The difference in the two systems goes beyond its fingering, and expands to the reeds and the tone of sound produced. German system bassoons produce a thicker, darker sound, while the sound produced by French system bassoons is lighter. For the sake of your child’s bassoon, be sure to purchase them a German System bassoon. Almost the entire world prefers German bassoons over Buffet bassoons, and Buffet bassoons are used primarily for historical/intellectual study than anything else.

Which Accessories Do I Need?

When it comes to playing the bassoon, purchasing the appropriate accessories is essential. You’ll need a swab cloth and a maintenance kit so your child can keep their bassoon in tip-top shape. If you’d prefer to purchase cleaning products outside of a kit, here’s what you’ll need: a polishing cloth, key oil, cork grease, and a clean duster. Be sure to speak with your child’s music teacher or band instructor for information about how to properly clean and maintain a bassoon- if you ask nicely, they may even be willing to give a demonstration. Other crucial accessories include a music stand a sturdy case, because the last thing you want after spending thousands of dollars on a new bassoon is for it to be dropped or damaged. Remember, there are tons of accessories on the market to make learning and playing easy and comfortable; browse our selection and find the products that “speak” to you.

Buy Bassoons From Music & Arts

At Music & Arts, we’re dedicated to bringing you one of the largest offerings of marching band and orchestral instruments, products, and accessories in the world. As a one-stop shop for students, parents, and music educators, you’ll find bassoons from some of the world’s top manufacturers, including Fox and . Remember, when selecting a bassoon you should take the above into consideration, along with your child’s skill level and desired sound. If your child is a student, a great place to start is by speaking with their music teacher or band instructor for personalized advice. Have a question or need more guidance? Head to your local Music & Arts store or contact us directly for more information.


Want more info? Learn more about Double Reed Instruments.

Photo via Scott Beckner, CC

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