April 09, 2015
How to Care for Your Bassoon
Buying a bassoon is no casual purchase. That’s why, once you’ve invested in an instrument of your own, it’s important to take proper care of it so that it will last as long as possible. You’ll also want to keep your bassoon in top working order so that it produces the best quality sound. For those who are new to bassoon care, here are some tips to help keep your instrument in top notch condition.
Be Sure to Soak Your Reed
Getting the right sound from your bassoon relies heavily on whether or not your reed has been properly soaked ahead of time. To ensure that you can soak your reed wherever you are, try to carry a cup with you specifically dedicated to soaking your reed. Then you can drop your reed in a cup of water and let it soak while you get your instrument set up. Buying new reeds on a regular basis can get pricey. Taking proper care of your reed not only helps you get the best sound, but also extends the life of the reed.
Swabbing your basson after each time you’ve played it is of the utmost importance. Leaving moisture trapped inside the instrument while it’s packed away can do some serious damage to the wood and pads and can negatively affect the sound of your bassoon over time.
While some instruments come with a stick swapping accessory, these devices are typically quite low quality and don’t do a very good job of absorbing excess moisture inside your instrument. In fact, some are of such poor quality that they leave fragments inside the bassoon, casing even more issues down the line. Instead of using these types of swabs, it’s best to get some pull through swabs. These kind are usually made from cotton, silk, or microfiber. These materials usually leave behind far less debris than the lower quality swabs that come with some instruments and they’re also much more efficient at absorbing moisture. You may need to purchase more than one size of pull through swab to accommodate larger and smaller areas of the instrument.
Blow Out the Bocal
Excess moisture needs to be thoroughly blown from the bocal. Blowing vigorously on the cork end when you’re cleaning your instrument will remove a lot of the moisture. You can also use a small pull through swab to further dry the bocal. Once a week the bocal should be washed in soapy, warm water and thoroughly dried. Metal cleaning tools should be avoided here as they can easily scratch or otherwise damage the bocal, which may affect the sound of the instrument.
Remove the Reed
When you’re finished playing it’s important to remove the reed from your bassoon. Forcefully blow through the string end. After you’ve blown it out, wipe it with a swab and tuck it away in its case to keep it safe for the next time you play.
Care for the Joints
Much like people, bassoons get stiff joints too. If you notice that your bassoon’s tenons are harder to move when assembling and disassembling your instrument, it’s probably time for some cork grease. Just remember that less is more here. Give the cork and joint ends a light coating of cork grease to ease movement. Putting on too much will cause your bassoon to fall apart while you’re playing.
As with other instruments, the bassoon is made up of many moving parts that need some care to keep the instrument as a whole in optimal working order. Be sure to properly store your bassoon in its case when not in use and keep it tucked away somewhere safe. Even inside the case your instrument can become damaged if it’s knocked around or stepped on. You also want to be sure not to store extra items in your bassoon case unless it has a special storage space for them. Loose items, even sheet music, can cause problems if they rub against your instrument inside the case. Treat your bassoon with the care it deserves and you’ll be rewarded with many years of enjoyment.