Electric Bassoon Power

Subject: Electric Amplified Bassoon Setup

Dear Mr. Eubanks,

I’m sure you’ve gotten this question many times since the release of the second Bassoon Brothers CD, but exactly what kind of setup did you use to produce the electric amplified bassoon effects? I’m really interested in exploring what more can be done with the unique and ultimately verstile instrument (not to mention the laughs it brings when hearing excepts blaring through an amp). Most importantly, I’m interested in trying some to arrange other rock tunes for the bassoon quartet utilizing the instrument.

Thank you.

Michael Harris
Student, Truman State University
Kirksville, Missouri

Dear Michael,

So you probably noticed the slowed down Rite of Spring. But did you hear Bolero backwards? The Tansman Sonatina lick was forwards and backwards too. I think it’s great that you want to pursue the electric bassoon sound. I have been using the same pickup since the 1960’s. One of my college professors played recitals on clarinet that was amplified. He wrote pieces using multiphonics, synthesizer, tape delays, ring modulators, etc. His name is Bill Smith, and he recorded some with Brubeck. What he and I use is a Vox pickup and looks like an ancient hearing aid. In those days these pickups were used on sax, trumpet and whatever. The same pickup. It requires a hole in the bocal. Mine is on the back just above the cork. A ring is soldered on and the pickup fits into this ring with a rubber washer. Read more

Miking the Bassoon

Here’s my question: Do you ever use a PA system? And if so, what do you do about microphones? I’m playing in an electrified band (lots of guitars, full drum set, etc.) At present, I’m amplifying my bassoon with a voice mike on a stand, aimed near the top of the boot joint. Someone told me once, years ago, about a mike that could be dropped down inside the bassoon. So far, I haven’t been able to locate any information on anything of that type. I would be interested in knowing what you use, and any tips on where I might shop for such equipment.

Dyanne Fry Cortez
Folk & Country Bassoonist
Austin, Texas

Dear Dyanne,

I play electric bassoon which you may or may not know. I have a bocal with a Vox pickup. Others like Paul Hanson and Michael Rabinowitz (jazz bassoonists) us a Frap. These are no longer made but are out there used. Neither type sounds like a bassoon. The contact type mikes do not work well as they pick up too much key noise, Barcus Berry types. If you want to play into a P.A. mike, I always used a Shure SM 57 (a very commonly used mike) place at the low C tone hole–the one that closes when you touch low B. This is a great sound. Only problem is when you hit low B or Bb, it doesn’t pick up. Read more