How to Really Test a Bocal
- Blind tests with another bassoonist playing.
- In the hall evaluation.
- On your instrument… I play it; you play it.
- In the microphone evaluation.
- Actual performance evaluation how it feels.
- Colleagues “opinion.”
- On trial new and used.
- New bassoons: a bocal return policy?
U-Tubes and Tuning
- Leaks are GREEN!
- Seldom visited tuning point
- Gasket thickness modifications
- Bracket sealing leak problem
- Swap or replacement
- New designs & materials
- Shallow or deep?
What are the simplest repairs and adjustments you can do yourself?
- Whisper key pad replacement.
- Low E bridge key adjustment.
- Lubricate pivots (to eliminate noise) and rods.
- Check for leaks: pressure tests/water tests.
- Maintenance: clean the bassoon of debris!
- Clean the tone holes:
- Swab with wet Q-Tips.
- Scrub with cleaning brush.
- Clean and recondition the pads.
- Regulate pad height (shims or sandpaper).
- Tuning and voicing?
– A great investment: the Mag Machine.
– Indoor (poster) mounting tape.
– Water bath bubble test.
– The old method: smoke.
What is Tuning and Voicing?
Pitch Centered at Equal Tempered
- Pitch centers at equal temperament.
- Achieve linear balance of pitch, resonance, and tone color.
- Balanced resonance and tone color across octaves.
- Quick response.
- Bottom up approach.
- All leaks have been eliminated?
- Tuned at the factory: +/- 2 cents?
- Pad height adjustments or tone holes adjustments?
- Tuning tape… Friend or foe?
- Undercutting tone holes.
- Tone color adjustments with tone hole flaring.
- Resonance reservoir tuning (Alan Fox).
- Bore adjustments and u-tube/gasket adjustments.
Tuning & Voicing Tools
Reamers and drills
- Bell bore diameter problem
- Bell tenon gap
- Long joint tenon gap problem
- Wing joint tenon gap
- U-tube design (shallow/deep)
- U-tube material*
- Gasket thickness and choke
- Bocal gap (good or bad?)
Sneaky Leaks that NEED Tiny Tweaks
- Dry rot! C# trill, Ab tone area, bottom of boot bore unlined
- Uneven or rounded pad seat/crown
- Pad seat cuts into wood
- Porous wood
- Screw holes
- Wood insert cuts for D and G ring keys
- Wood cracks anywhere
- Wood tone holes
- Metal bands
- Long joint screws that penetrate into the bore
- Inexpensive/old bassoon partial metal tone hole inserts D and B ring keys
- Cracked bocal seam
- C# tone hole through wood to cut
- C# under liner to tenon end
- Liner separation and leaks to and from vents and tone holes
- Action rod holes
- U-tube bracket over wood
- U-tube gasket crack
- “Across the bore” A and Bb tone holes
- Wing tenon well to C# trill
- Wood cracks around wing and bass well
- Under and around metal band and neckstrap connection
- Sloppy rods (loose keywork)
Solutions and Products
- Soak in linseed oil?
- Underwater bubble test
- Door-Ease stick lubricant (wax)
- PC Petrifier wood hardener
- Super Glue
Choke Points and Rods
Biofeedback for Blowing
Developments in the 20th and 21st Centuries
- Heckel #4360
- Heckel “World” Bassoon
- Pezzi Model
- Frederick Moritz Model
- Cucuriano System
- Weisberg Flickless
- Wolf’s new directions
The Ideal Bassoon
- Does not leak
- Tuned and voiced
- Fits the player’s hand!
- Easy to play (too easy?)
- Projects well
- Is flexible, not stiff
- Tone color pleases you
- Blends with bassoon section
- Best instrument for 1st or 2nd bassoon
- Doesn’t take 25 years to break in
- Sounds good on recordings
- Stays in adjustment
- “Lost” Jaw (circle)
- Overbite — open jaw
- Lower lip back
- Flat-neutral– slightly closed jaw
- Smile (corners up)
- Grimace (corners flat)
- Frown (corners down)
- Overbite — slightly closed jaw
- Under-bite (upside-down)
- Fish lips (rolled out)
8 B’s for 3 ppp’s
by Mark Eubanks
Can you “sing” softly, playing a controlled pianissimo with good pitch and resonance in the tone? This is one of the greatest challenges in bassoon playing.