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The bassoon and contrabassoon are popular double-reed woodwind instruments found in orchestral, concert band, and chamber music, as well as in jazz and pop music (though not as commonly). A proper bassoon reed is essential to play the bassoon to its full potential.
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With such a wide variety of choices, knowing the market's top brands is useful. Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top bassoon (and contrabassoon) reed brands.
Let's detail each of these brands and explain why they belong in the top 8 best bassoon reed brands. I'll share their country of origin, some history, an example of a notable reed, and a link to their official website.
Vandoren is, nowadays, a synonym with excellence in reeds. For the past 11 decades, the company has been dedicated to growing its offer by utilizing alternative materials and researching tirelessly to create the perfect reed for wind and woodwind instruments.
Perhaps, the secret to Jones reeds being one of the most sought-after reeds brands in the world is that the owner and founder was the maestro of the Eastern Washington University Symphony Orchestra for 14 years. Moreover, he received the University's Medal of Honor in 1981.
He built double reeds for his students on his kitchen table during his time there. The difference in sound quality and reliability between Dr. Jones' reeds and commercially available ones was so notorious that he developed a business structure around it.
Nowadays, after over half a century of commitment to excellence and non-stop innovation over a tested and proven model, Jones double reeds continue to be the go-to choice for a generation of bassoon players.
This is the model developed by Jones Reeds for intermediate and advanced players. They are completely handmade from the finest materials, including the handpicked cane. Moreover, the gifted team of testers working in Jones reeds provides the finishing touches to every product, ensuring you receive only the best quality.
A characteristic that sets these reeds apart from the rest is that they provide students with a better response throughout the range of the instrument covering a vast sonic ground and sounding perfectly in tune at all times. These reeds, available in medium-soft, medium, and medium-hard, are tuned to 440 Hz.
Although the company was founded in the 1950s, the commercial take-off for Chartier came in 1976 when Greg, the eldest son of the founder, took over and expanded from handmade, small quantity double reeds to synthetic materials and turned into a supplier of raw and partially-finished reeds to other companies in the industry.
For gigging players who need to keep their instruments always ready and in tune, the synthetic material these reeds are made of is nothing short of a miracle. You can forget about weather conditions and also about soaking them; they're always ready to go.
Furthermore, this is a great choice for beginners who need to worry about finding their way around the instrument rather than the reeds. Also, they are great for the outdoors as they are for doublers.
Hugo Fox wasn't just a remarkable reed maker; he was also an outstanding bassoon player who played for the Chicago Symphony for almost 30 years before retiring in 1949 to fulfill his dream of building the best bassoon the world had ever seen. His main motivation to make this life-changing twist was that nobody knows better what a musician needs than another musician.
Therefore, these reeds are handmade with the best materials but won't break the bank. Moreover, Fox describes them as the best reeds for bassoon players who don't yet make their own because they are the next best thing after making your own.
Légère was born because two Ph.D. holders got together to create the best reeds the world has ever seen. Besides having a PhD. in Chemistry, Guy Légère is also an accomplished musician who has played for the Brampton Symphony Orchestra.
During his years as a musician, he strived to find good-quality reeds and decided to find the perfect composition to create the ultimate reed and help fellow musicians struggle only with the playing part.
To begin with, they are made with a computer-controlled precision cutting machine that cuts them in halves and bonds them together with another digitally-controlled system. Therefore, the reeds are never moulded or stamped, giving them the perfect combination of tip thickness, heart, and flexibility.
Forrests has been a Berkley institution since its doors opened, offering woodwind artists, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and curious with everything needed to become proficient bassoon, oboe, and clarinet players.
Soon after opening, the word spread that the technicians working in the shop were elite level. Thus, musicians from San Francisco orchestras, conservatories, and universities visited them with their instruments. From there, the evolution into making their reeds was only a natural step.
Nowadays, Forrests reeds are famous in the entire state, and people from other countries play their beloved instruments through them. If you haven't tried them yet, they are a must for all serious bassoon players.
The German-style professional reeds are the favourite of professional players because they have a stable and rather dark sound that remains constant throughout the entire register of the instrument. Moreover, these reeds are great for intermediate players because they can guarantee an even sound and a loud volume while staying perfectly in tune regardless of the repertoire.
These reeds are available in soft, medium-soft, medium, and medium-hard. Furthermore, Forrests reeds tend to be firmer than other brands. Therefore, you can always try going one gauge less with them than you usually do with other brands.
What sets Clark reeds apart from the rest of the reeds on this list is that they are handmade by a remarkable bassoon player with a doctorate in musical arts and bassoon performance. This is not a subtle difference but an important asset of this brand that takes no rush in its orders. You'll have to wait between one and two weeks for your order to be made and shipped before you can enjoy it.
This is the perfect choice for those who play the principal bassoon or aspire to because the pitch in the tenor range is kept higher while resonance and response are kept throughout the entire range of the instrument.
Moreover, the reed features a Mechler-type shape with a thicker profile than the rest of the Clark reeds and a narrower tip for enhanced control and comfort. This professional-oriented reed can take your playing to the next level.
Advantage reeds not only manufacture and sell reeds; the company specializes in staples, thread, and cane for manufacturing them as well. In this vein, the company is perfect for beginners, intermediate, advanced, and professional reeds since they offer a wide variety of models not only made by Advantage but also by most of the biggest reed brands in the world.
Made in mesmerizing turquoise and pink thread, this synthetic bassoon reed is crafted entirely with the perfect high-quality plastic to need no moisturizing before playing but delivering the sound you would expect from a top-notch reed. Moreover, since the material remains unaffected by weather conditions, musicians who often play outdoors will find it a great solution for their gigs.
Most bassoon reeds will last on average about 2-3 months. Bassoon players should always own multiple reeds so that they can rotate their reeds and reduce damage, thereby lengthening the life expectancy of their reeds.
There are many things that affect how long a bassoon reed will last. Bassoon players should learn the techniques that will change the strength of their reeds. Having the appropriate kind of reed and understanding reed care is essential for increasing the life of your bassoon reed.
Bassoon reeds can become quite costly depending on the type you are using and how often you are using the reed. It is possible to extend the life of your bassoon reed through proper care and storage. Some things to keep in mind to ensure that your bassoon reed lasts as long as possible include:
Reed cleaning is important to ensure your bassoon reed will last as long as possible. Each person will have their own reed cleaning routine and will want to adjust based on their usage and type of reeds. Some tips to make sure your reed is being properly cleaned each time include:
It is possible to find a bassoon reed for $10.00, but the average cost of a bassoon reed will be around $20.00. If you are a serious bassoon player, however, you will want to invest more in your reed. Some examples of bassoon reeds include:
There are many ways to avoid common issues with your bassoon reed. Understanding how the reed functions, and the actions that will harm your reed are important. There are some essential things to avoid in order to get the most from your reed and to extend the life of your favorite reeds.
Bassoon reeds come in a variety of strengths that affect the sound, quality, and life of the reed. New bassoon players will want to consider the strength of their breath before choosing their reed. If you are still determining which reed is best for you, you try out a variety of reed strengths to see which suits you best. The various bassoon reed strengths include:
Getting to know your specific type of bassoon reed will help increase the life of your reed. The less time your reed is in contact with saliva, and the more it is able to rest between uses, the better for the health of your reed. Be sure to follow a proper cleaning schedule, rotate your reeds, and use a proper reed case for maximum quality of life of your reed.
I have been making bassoon reeds for over a decade, and I've learned from amazing bassoonists from all over the world. Reed making has always been a passion of mine and the love I have for it is where my shop really began! Happy bassooning! 041b061a72