I am frequently asked, often immediately after a recital, what type of bassoon I play. The long answer to this question is a bit complicated. It begins with articulating the notion which was impressed upon me early on in my bassoon studies. In a nutshell, the concept is as follows: the true instrument is the body, while the piece of wood in the player’s hands serves as a mere conduit through which the bassoonist expresses their art.
To test the validity of this point, pick up someone else’s bassoon and play it right after them, using the same reed and bocal (you may want to make sure they are healthy before you attempt this). You will notice that the two of you sound quite different from one another, even though you are using the very same equipment setup. The reason for this sound contrast--which at times can be very noticeable--is that our bodies resonate differently, and it is in fact the body’s resonance that greatly contributes to what the ultimate character of our sound will be. (The topic of body resonance is one that I was first introduced to by one of my former bassoon teachers, and which I later refined by carefully analyzing the mechanisms of sound production that the great singers routinely utilize. This certainly is an area worth exploring by any serious wind musician!) Back to the proposition that the instrument should serve as a mere conduit: as we develop our skill on the bassoon--or on any wind instrument for that matter--we gain a mental concept of the sound that we want to be able to produce. Once that concept is sufficiently established, the next step is finding just the right conduit; that is, an instrument which will allow for our inner sound concept to emerge in the most unencumbered and thus pleasing manner.
To be sure, some players prefer to allow for the instrument to do most of the work, including in terms of sound production. Personally, as a bassoonist who seeks to employ as wide as possible a color palette, I routinely use all 3 of my bassoons, depending on the repertoire and to some extent the venue in which I’m performing. In no particular order, my instruments are: Püchner Superior (traditional dark red finish); Yamaha YFG-812 (thick wall model); and Heckel Biebrich (11K series). I use a number of bocals with these bassoons, and of course each of them requires a slightly different reed style.
If you are still reading this, you are probably wondering what, if anything, these three instruments have in common. It is exactly one thing (in addition to the prerequisite, which is that they are all well-built, top notch instruments): all of these bassoons allow me to produce the type of sound concept with which I approach all of my playing, while each of them also adds a bit of their own distinct character into the mix. Coincidentally, the audio recordings on my website and YouTube channel feature all 3 of my instruments.