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Used Contrabassoon

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Used Contrabassoon    07:00 on Friday, November 16, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

SoonerBassooner
(17 points)

My private student's band director has asked if we can get a good USED contrabassoon. I found one at contrabass.com, a heckel, for ONLY $16,000.

This is a middle school with a very limited budget and not even an official booster organization. Where else might I look to find used contras? And is there ANY chance we're going to get one for a price affordable to buy? My guess is no but it's worth a shot to look.

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    09:10 on Friday, November 16, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

contra448
(681 points)

The 'contrabass' site is not kept up to date - if you look at the date that was posted you'll see it has, like many other items there, be up for 5 1/2 years.

With these older instruments you never know what pitch it was made to play at. Also many have not been maintained properly, if at all, so are in in dreadful condition. In adverts the descriptions tend to be a bit optimistic in my experience & what the owner says is 'a quick & easy fix' 'ain't necessarily so'.

Getting contrabassoons worked on is an expensive business & it is not every woodwind technician who will work on bassoons even let alone contras.

As to other options -
Mollenhauer, Moosmann & Fox are excellent & solid instruments which will stand up to battering by students best but, being professional instruments, they are also very expensive even used (Unless they have been wrecked).

Going down you get Adlers & Monnigs - which can be good horns but not as robust as the others & you see older ones for sale occasionally which are quite often in a dire condition.

Then there is Amati (Czech made) - the modern ones produce a reasonable sound & play in tune but are less robust than the Adler/Monnig ones. Old examples are not to be recommended - build quality, materials & tuning not at all good.

Finally there is a new Chinese model on E-bay at the moment with starting bid at $3900. I have not seen one but all the Chinese bassoons I've seen are of definitely very inferior quality & never work straight from the box so are to be avoided. Although I have heard that some makers are beginning to get their act together. But a new contra starting at under $4000?? And trying to get problems sorted with the maker in China would be a nightmare.

You really need to get advice from a contra expert. Where do you live? I'm in England so cannot be of much practical help.

Good luck in the hunt.

Ian

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    09:25 on Friday, November 16, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

SoonerBassooner
(17 points)

Thanks for the reply. Wow, I didn't notice the post date on the Heckel.

I live outside Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I've made a contact with a middle school band director who is a bassoonist in the area. She's affliated with Emory University in Atlanta, and my next stop was to email the bassoonist there, who I understand will rent her contra to school in some cases. I don't really see a middle school being able to afford even a used contra nor see them using it on a consistent enough basis to make the purchase worthwhile.

I'll research these brands further and will steer clear of the Chinese ones. Thank you again for your post.

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    12:08 on Friday, November 16, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Drew
(365 points)

I am not a contrabass player so perhaps am not really qualified to comment on this, but I have heard some good things about the new Amatis and Adlers now on the market. For the price they are apparently a good bargain. Please note I said "new" as their quality has improved dramatically, according to users, in the last few years.

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    03:36 on Saturday, November 17, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

contra448
(681 points)

Not being familiar with the US school system what ages does middle school cover?.



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Re: Used Contrabassoon    07:47 on Saturday, November 17, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

SoonerBassooner
(17 points)

Middle School here is 6th - 8th grade, that would be roughly age 10 - 14. One of my beginning students can barely reach around a regular bassoon. I'm thinking a contra might just be too much instrument for this age group to even be able to handle. However I have never played one myself, so I don't know.

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    12:33 on Saturday, November 17, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Drew
(365 points)

Sooner, you have stated my reservations about this purchase exactly. Unless this school has a VERY agressive music program and highly trained students and an energatic director, I'm not sure what they're doing wanting a contrabassoon. The things are heavy, could fall over and get bashed, etc. Just think what kids are at that age, bouncing around bumping into things, bending bocals (shudder, shudder).......

<Added>

should have said "energetic..." (too early in the morning)

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    12:02 on Monday, November 19, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

contra448
(681 points)

I agree with you there.

The instrument is so much bigger & the air requirement is different - more flow & less pressure. I addition many fingerings are different -
1. Most contras don't have F# & G# keys duplicated - usually one or the other.
2. 3rd space E flat is the D fingering plus the 3rd finger on the extra E flat key - you cannot use the standard fork fingering - which involves a lot of sliding for 3rd finger from C to E flat.
3. Above A (top line) everything is different - the thumb keys are used differently for a start.

What many people, even those who should know better, don't seem to realise is that these 'fringe' instruments (Bass clarinet, E flat clarinet, English horn, bass flute, piccolo, contra bassoon) cannot be just picked up & played like the normal member of the family.

If you do go ahead do not be tempted by low A contras - there is little music written for it (The only one I've come across in 10 years & over 200 gigs is Mahler 9) & the extra 22 inches of tubing makes it even more unwieldy & difficult to carry about.

Ian




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Re: Used Contrabassoon    20:39 on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

boilingyerstew
(1 point)

I was recently in middle school Two years ago and I don't think the students are as bad as you believe them to be. In 7th grade I switched from clarinet to contra alto Clarinet because my school is amazing. I didn't break anything everything was cool. Also bass clarinet definitely isn't a fringe instrument that anyone can't just pick up. It is so much easier than regular clarinet and the switch is much easier than other switches I've had. (clarinet to contra alto clarinet, bass clarinet to bassoon, bassoon to tuba/euphonium)

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    21:17 on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

twoba
(28 points)

Hey sorry if you already said this, but maybe you should try getting a contrabass clarinet since it has a very similar range, though

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    21:42 on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

SoonerBassooner
(17 points)

He's already got a contrabass clarinet.

I think the thing is my private student (7th grade) is VERY talented. She made 2nd chair Georgia All-State Band as a 6th grader and 1st chair is hers to take this year unless she just totally blows her audition. She is in the top band at the middle school (combined 7th/8th graders) and for their contest piece this year, they are doing Holst's 1st Suite in E-flat ... the REAL one, not some dummied down transcription. And believe it or not, they're doing VERY WELL on it.

He's trying to keep the band and my student, in particular, challenged. He probably thinks the next logical step is contrabassoon, and is hoping the high school will split the cost. There are just not very many bassoonists in the pipeline coming up from the elementary school (which I'm trying to change). And since it's not as easy as just switching back and forth, AND the fact that these are 12/13/14 year olds, I'm going to discourage the purchase. (I won't mention that as the booster president, I would have to spearhead the fundraising to pay for it and it would take a LOT of car washes and cookie dough sales to fund even a used one!!!)

Just out of curiosity, what is the YOUNGEST contrabassoonist you have ever seen play?

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    21:46 on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

harrypotter44
(23 points)

i'm not a bassoon player but 16,000 for a contrabassoon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    22:02 on Sunday, December 09, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Yasamune
(8 points)

My suggestion-don't get the heckel contra-good chance it needs a serious overhaul and for an instrument as monstrous as that you need a seriously good repairman for that and it would cost at least a thousand bucks or two if not four or maybe even five
if you want a contra for your middle school, try an amati-they are cheap and while they don't hold up very long i hear, you'll have a playing contra

then of course there is the fox contra which will hold up incredibly well. the only thing thats better than both the heckel and fox contras is a wolf contraforte.

hope this helps
Yasamune

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    22:04 on Sunday, December 09, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Yasamune
(8 points)

ps. Henry Skolnick is a god when it comes to information on the contrabassoon.
hskolnick@charter.net

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Re: Used Contrabassoon    08:52 on Monday, December 10, 2007 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Ruth88
(168 points)

If you're keen to keep your pupils challenged, would it not be a better idea just to give them more challenging pieces? That way she'll become an even better bassoonist, and can give the contra a go when she's a bit better and might have hands big enough! Not only that, contras *are* huge heavy instruments. I'm 19 (not that old, but older that 14) and i struggle just to get it from one end of the room to the other. Especially if it's in it's case.
It just doesn't sound like a practical idea to me - spending thousands of pounds/dollars on an instrument for one person means that might never be used once she's finished. Also like someone else said, if it breaks you'd have a terrible time trying to get it fixed.
I'd say leave it until she's older and get her one if she decides to play professionally - she can buy it off you or something then!

   





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