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 Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: MarkN 
Date:   2008-06-18 02:12


I have experience playing oboe and EH, and have been contemplating taking up the bassoon.

Is cracking an issue with wooden bassoons like it often is with the upper joint on the oboe and EH?

I was thinking specifically about the Fox Model III (plastic) vs. the Fox Renard 220 (wood). Are there any significant drawbacks to a plastic instrument like the Model III (weight, tone, ???) What are people's opinions in general of these two Fox instruments?



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 Re: Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-06-18 15:02

Wooden (maple) bassoons will always have the narrow (descending) bores lined with ebonite or plastic to prevent moisture damage and cracking, so they won't suffer like some oboes and clarinets do. Though wet pads, such as the low Ab pad can cause the surrounding tonehole to rot (and it's a good idea to keep the Ab pad wedged open while it's in the case to allow it to dry out), and if the wood isn't well sealed at the U-tube letting water penetrate (on the butt joint where the bores meet), it can rot if not dried out thoroughly after playing.

I'm not sure what the weight difference is between Fox polypropylene and maple bassoons, or if it's noticeable or not (I haven't been able to compare them side by side), though the old plastic Bundy bassoons weighed a ton in comparison to the wooden ones.


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 Re: Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2008-06-18 16:02

The main reason for oboes and EH's cracking, I believe, is because of the relative thinness of the wood bore and the closeness of the holes drilled into it for the keyposts, finger holes, and keypad holes. Any disturbance of humidity in this area is a potential cause for cracking.

Bassoons do not have this configuration in general. What they do have, as the previous poster pointed out, is a tendency for the descending joints to collect moisture from being blown into, which over time, if moisture is allowed to stay in the joint, will cause cracks or separation in the lining of the wing joint and wood rot in the boot joint. Plastic bassoons do not have this problem, of course. Some manufacturers, notably Moosmann, line both sides of the boot joint rather than just the descending side, and this is supposed to eradicate boot joint wood rot.

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 Re: Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: MarkN 
Date:   2008-06-18 16:26

Interesting information so far about the potential for rot more so than for cracking on Maple bassoons.

Can anyone comment on the particular two instruments I mentioned (the Fox Model III and the Renard 220) in terms of pros and cons? Would either of those make a good instrument for an amateur and part-time bassoon enthusiast?

Thanks again for the replies.


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 Re: Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: Merlin_Williams 
Date:   2008-06-18 21:47

The Model III and the 220 are both really nice playing long bore instruments. When I toured the Fox factory a few years ago, I mentioned to Chip Owen that I was interested in getting III. He convinced me to try a 240 - the Renard short bore instead. It's an excellent instrument for a serious part-time player.

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 Re: Wood vs. plastic bassoons?
Author: BassoonWorks 
Date:   2008-08-10 05:03

The Model III is particularly useful if you are playing outside or in very extreme condition (one student traded in her wooden instrument for one of these when she was sent on a scientific trip to Antartica!). In generally, most players prefer wooden instruments as the posters above had noted. Weight difference is not a significant factor since so much of the instrument's weight consists of the keywork which is the same on both type of instruments.

For most players, the different between a long bore and short bore is not important and the long bore gives more flexibility (eg, is less finicky) about pitch and reeds. Short bores were intended for first-chair players in large halls because they help with sound projection (but at the cost of the flexibility of the traditional long-bore design). Good luck!

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