Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer! We’ve really been enjoying the weather (in all its variety!) and outdoor activities.
I thought it would be a good idea to go over ideas for purchasing a bassoon. A new bassoon is no small investment, but with care one can find a used instrument for reasonable price. So, here are some ideas.
Once in a while, there is a Fox or Renard bassoon on eBay (or other “for sale” bulletin board). Since the factory is so close (South Whitley IN), it is relatively painless to take a used Fox/Renard in for TLC. These bassoons are generally good bets. Also, the factory may be able to give you a history of the instrument–this will help you prevent purchasing a stolen bassoon.
The market is flooded with cheaper Asian instruments these days. While some may actually have potential, I’m not ready to yet relax–there are too many stories about problems with these instruments (just Google the bassoon brand you are considering). The same goes, in general, for Eastern European instruments.
Many schools have Schreiber bassoons in inventory. I’ve encountered some nice Schreibers, and some not so nice. To buy a used Schreiber, you’d want a second (and maybe third) opinion. Try before you buy.
Plastic vs. wood. The vinyl used in cheap plastic instruments just doesn’t allow for precision manufacturing needed to produce a quality instrument. Fox uses a polypropylene material that actually machines very well. Fox “plastic” bassoons work VERY well and should be considered, especially in light of the cost savings.
If you encounter a used bassoon and want to test it out, what should you notice about it? Using a tuner, check the scale. Can you play the instrument in tune? If there are notes that are dramatically out of tune, the instrument may just need some repair (leaks can cause all kinds of problems), but it may be that the problem is in the bore and/or tone holes. Try to take the bassoon to a repair technician to have it checked for leaks, fixed as needed, then play test to see if the instrument can be played in tune.
Ask lots of questions. Read the IDRS Forums for tons of information. You can register for free and post questions, but even if you just read, you will find plenty of helpful information.
Be sure to network! Pass along leads to instruments for sale–even if it’s not for you, someone else might be ready to take the plunge!