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 Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2007-09-09 22:12

I just ran through my range from low C to high G, and the large majority of my notes are quite sharp. Here's a rundown, going up the scales:

Low C +15
C# +30
D +15
D# off the screeen--almost an E!
E +25
F +20
F# +10
G +10
Ab +5
A +20
Bb +5
B +5
C +10

2nd 8va
C +10
C# +10
D +15
D# 0
E +20
F +15
F# +20
G 0
G# 0
A +20
A# 0
B 0
C 0

3rd 8va
C 0
C# +10
D 0
D# 0
E 0
F 0
F# 0
G 0

Oddly enough, as you can see, the octave that is most in tune is the upper one.

So, does anybody have some advice as to how to correct these notes? Thanks.

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Bret Pimentel 
Date:   2007-09-10 09:22


There's nothing too surprising on your tuning chart. The bassoon tends toward sharpness in general, and that upper 'solo' range tends to be better in tune.

The bassoon embouchure should be flexible and needs to move around a bit to keep things in tune--keep things nice and open and bring your chin downward to lower the pitch.

You could possibly use a longer bocal or even pull yours out just a little, but the in-tune-ness of your upper register suggests that the setup you've got is probably okay.

Good luck!

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Ian White 
Date:   2007-09-10 13:11

It could be that the excessively # notes are due to keys opening too much. (The low D is about the worst on most bassoons) Also odd slight leaks can affect notes - the leak not necessarily being near the hole in question. Worth getting a good repairer with bassoon expertise to check it over. I see many instruments where lots of the pads open far too much.

I agree with Brett's comments. Also you must keep the air support up even if your reaction is to reduce it to try & lower the pitch - achieve that by the embouchure.


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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2007-09-10 23:43

Bret & Ian,

Thank you for your help. I'm glad that neither of you suggested buying a better bassoon as a way to correct the pitches (but bassoon players would never make a smart-aleck comment like that, right?)! I'm happy to learn that what I have is fairly normal.

I did try three other longer famous-brand bocals last spring, and surprisingly enough, the one that came with the horn--a no-namer--was the best of the lot.

I have indeed been consciously trying to lower the pitch with my embouchure--but will check my breath support, too. And I'll see about the key heighths with my repair guy.

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Ian White 
Date:   2007-09-11 08:02

What breed of bassoon is it anyway?

If you want to get some idea for normal pad openings look at This of course is for Fox instruments but is a useful starting point for any make. There is a lot of useful info in the Technicians' Resource section of the Fox site.


Post Edited (2007-09-11 08:03)

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2007-09-11 23:45

I have a Kohlert, c. 1953. Nothing fancy--it doesn't even have rollers for the pinky keys. But it serves me well.

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: vgellin 
Date:   2007-12-26 22:10

What is the length of your reed and your bocal ??

Vincent Ellin
Bassoon Soloist

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 Re: Bringing down a sharp bassoon
Author: Surprenant 
Date:   2012-09-12 13:56

Jaysne, I'm not sure how advanced you are, but I have been playing less than a year. I always thought my intonation was fine until I tried playing a piece with a pianist and was shocked to find that I was often a half step higher than the piano. My teacher has said that I am too tense. Perhaps beginner's nerves...? Anyway, I have been trying to practice slowly with a tuner on my stand, but I'm wondering if this is the best way to improve my intonation? Assuming my instrument is reasonably in tune, if I need to make the adjustments, will my brain "catch on" and remember which notes are relatively sharp? Not sure what to do, but the turner needle seems to be furiously swinging about sometimes.

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