Budget Tool Kit
Additional Tools and Upgrades
Advanced Tool Kit

Budget Tool Kit

Getting started with bassoon reed tuning requires special tools. The most basic tools are a pair of pliers, a plaque, and sandpaper or sanding tool. If reeds don’t fit securely onto the bocal (at least 1/4 inch or 6mm), a reamer will be needed. A good toolkit can cost hundreds of dollars, but these alternatives can be put together for less than $100. You can assemble and/or make this inexpensive tool kit yourself:

Small, blunt-nosed pliers with wire cutters ($2-$5) such as Michigan Industrial Tools 4 1/2 inch Linesman pliers with wire cutters ($2.19).
Inexpensive, thin plastic contoured bassoon plaque ($2.00 and up) or smooth plastic guitar pick (.43 cents and up). See also Basic Tools Q & A."
Holding mandrel
Stanley 2/32nd inch nail set 58-112 ($2.99).
Throat mandrel

This tool is used to measure the inside diameter of the throat and is also used to round out and correct throat symmetry problems. It can be used both in forming the reed and after. It can also be used as a pre-forming mandrel to open up the tube before inserting the forming mandrel. This is an important inexpensive piece of equipment that can serve several purposes including as a holding mandrel. ($3.95)
6-inch metal ruler in millimeters ($1.50-$5).
Reed knife options
Folding reed knife
Barber Elite series Msr-11 by Tiger-USA ($8.00). This knife is designed for slicing. This is the most economical option. This knife should be resharpened to a scraping burr. See knife sharpening techniques.
Beveled reed knife
Create your own from POWERTEC 148022 6-inch jointer knives (blade only), 3-pack ($14.99). To use this as a reed knife, create a handle using a slide binder clip (see image). Slide the binder clip over the blade edge to create a handle. Wrap the binder clip with layers of duct tape. Find the right thickness for comfort. Note: This company's blades have a slight additional bevel similar to a scraping burr. This knife can be made for right- or left-handed scraping. Make two more knives and give to your friends?
Razor reed knife (alternative to beveled reed knife)
Straight razor knife, such as Master USA MU-1014W ($12.95). Note: to use this knife effectively, the folding handle must be removed and the shank inserted into a tool handle. This knife should be resharpened to a scraping burr. See knife sharpening techniques.
Double-hollow ground reed knife (e.g. The Charles Knife, from Charles Double Reeds)
13/64 - inch tapered drill bit ($5.98). Note: the tip of the reamer needs to be ground off for proper fit. Adding a handle is recommended. See Basic Tools Q & A for instructions.
Economy reamer (upgrade)
Fox double fluted reamer, $20.00. Note: this type of reamer must be used on a dry reed and is very slow in removing cane. Specialty spiral reamers start at $60 and up.
Smoothing reamer
This reamer can do the entire job of reaming if needed, but only on a completely dry reed. Use a round, smooth 6-inch "rat tail" file, such as Nickelson 11781 file ($8.27). Note: the tip of the file must be ground down and/or snapped off at the right point, approx. 1-1/8 inches back from the tip. See Basic Tools Q & A for instructions.
Auto Body Master aluminum oxide sandpaper. Grits: 320, 220, and 80 ($2.00).
Sanding tool
Plastic artists spatula with sandpaper attached with double-stick tape or self-adhesive Auto Body Master sandpaper ($1.85). Click here to see how to make one.
Sanding tool (alternate to homemade)
Stevens International angle cut sanding sticks, 320 or 280 grit ($2.77), or value pack. Note: these are often found at hobby shops.
Needle files
10-piece diamond needle file set, such as Harbor Freight Tools Warrior - item#69876, ($6.99).
(Optional) Scraper tool (with curved blade)
Mascot scraper, item no. H297 ($15.99).
Soft, round brass wire, no. 22 or no. 21 gauge ($3.95). (Use these gauges only!)
Tip Cutter
5.5" craft scissors ($4.79), or single edge razor blade used with guitar pick.
Tip Cutter (upgrade)
Flush-cut end nip trimmer, such as FastCap End Nippers, part no. 88FCPLIERSENDNIP ($15.99).

Electronic Tuner
Phone\/tablet apps (free-$3.99) or tuners\/metronomes (starting at $20).
Sharpening Stone
DMT Dia-Sharp extra fine diamond sharpening stone ($24.60).
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 Additional Tools and Upgrades

  • Specialty bassoon pliers with wire cutters
  • Parallel jaw pliers with optional wire cutter
  • Electronic tuner: Boss TU-12 or TU-12BW ($50-100) (includes a contact microphone)*
  • Reed knife: Double hollow ground, wedge-type medium to hard steel (e.g., Landwell Reed Knife)
  • Plaque (ebony or blued steel lozenge shaped)
  • Fox contrabassoon plaque ($14)
  • Ultra fine (1000+ grit) hard Arkansas translucent sharpening stone (diamond and ceramic stones are also good)
  • Mandrels
  • Reamers
  • Precision Tip cutter tool
    • Guillotine type
    • Folding type
    • Precision ground end cutter
    • Electronics industry nipper/flush cutting end, such as the highly recommended Grobet Flush Cutting Nippers #46.563 ($160).
  • Gravers and scrapers
    • Grobet #64 oval graver
    • Reed Geek
  • Sandpaper: auto body, fine finishing aluminum oxide, 220 and 320 grit
  • Sanding tool/stick
  • Needle files (half round, small round)
  • Mandrel
  • Jeweler’s loupe, 5X
  • High-intensity lamp

Advanced Tool Kit

  • Dial Indicator
  • Hardness meter
  • Flextor tool
  • Contact Microphone
  • Tuner and/or metronome with reference tone output
  • Temperature and humidity meter
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