Acquiring a Historical Bassoon

One of the misconceptions I hear with respect to playing historical bassoons is the cost of acquiring an instrument. In most cases however, reproductions of historical bassoons are less expensive than their modern equivalents with a number of quality reproductions now being produced throughout Europe and the United States. That said, the wait time for a new instrument can be from between six months and two years. Excellent baroque bassoon reproductions are produced by Guntram Wolf Holzblasinstrumente GmbH, Paul Hailperin, Oliver Cottet, Matthew Dart and Peter de Koningh among others. Makers of excellent dulcian reproductions include Eric Moulder, Martin Praetorius and Vincenzo Onida and others. Many makers can be contacted by way of their websites where you can enquire as to the cost and wait time and place an order.

It is important in particular to ensure that you acquire a historical bassoon of an appropriate pitch. Most baroque ensembles performing music of the late baroque (1685 to 1750) play at A=415 (a semitone lower than modern pitch) and hence, it is critical that you initially acquire a baroque bassoon at that pitch. On occasions however, baroque ensembles performing music of the late baroque will play at A=392 (a whole tone lower than modern pitch) when performing French repertoire and hence, you may wish to purchase an A=392 baroque bassoon as a second instrument. With respect to dulcians, most early baroque and late renaissance groups (1550 – 1685) perform at A=440 so it is critical that you either acquire a dulcian which is at this pitch or alternatively, at the more historically-accurate pitch of A=466 which many early music groups are also now performing at.

In selecting a historical bassoon, my recommendation is to listen to a number of recordings of baroque orchestras and find a sound of a bassoon section that you like. Once you have done this, then find out what instruments they are playing on by looking in the programs where the makers of the player’s instruments are listed. This often can be discovered by undertaking a simple Google search. Alternatively, you should ask for a recommendation from a professional historical bassoonist.

Occasionally, used historical bassoons are listed for sale via the Early Music Shop Used Instrument Agency (, Lazar’s Early Music ( or Musical Chairs ( Although purchasing a used instrument will eliminate the wait time, make sure however, that you check the condition of the instrument before committing yourself to the purchase. Ensure for example, that there is no mould or cracks in the bore.

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