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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Why the mini bassoon may make your child smarter

The mini bassoon is the bassoon's little brother, and a great introduction to the double reed family. But it's more than that.

The mini bassoon may make your child smarter

A recent study shows that playing an instrument – ideally from age 7 – permanently enhances brain development, leading to greater brain function, memory, speech processing, empathy, motor skills, maths and science skills and even mental health. These benefits can’t be found in any other way; only learning an instrument from a young age will provide them. According to the study, the brain functions developed uniquely through playing music ‘likely contribute more to academic success than IQ.’

The bassoon's size makes it hard to play before the age of 11 or 12. Does this mean children are missing out on extra brain development? Not at all. Its little brother can be played from the age of 7 - the magic age for maximum cognitive development. The mini bassoon also ensures children start learning at the same age as their peers, rather than starting later and lagging behind.

The bassoon is the best choice

What better instrument to learn than the bassoon? Its conical bore provides unique and complex sound characteristics, which can’t be found in any other instrument. The mellow tones and versatility of the bassoon make it an enjoyable instrument to play. Ideally suited to ensembles and orchestras, the bassoon helps develop team working skills, but its rich sound is also appreciated in solo performances. The mini bassoon captures all these benefits, and more.

Recommended by music teachers

Schools are increasingly seeing the value of the mini bassoon. Diana Bushby, bassoon teacher at Hymers College, Hull, has been using mini bassoons for 15 years. ‘I couldn’t build up a bassoon section without the mini instruments,’ she said. ‘They are a valuable teaching resource and should be used more often in junior schools.'

Mini bassoons are about half the weight of a full-size bassoon, and a lot smaller. ‘Children find the small instruments easy to hold and develop a good posture very quickly,’ Diana told us. 'As it’s so light there are no problems with tension in the neck, arms and wrists.'

They have almost identical key work to full-size bassoons, and play in the key of G. Ideally for younger children, they are available in a special dense plastic resin which is rot- and crack-proof. Our most popular mini bassoon is the Ludlow Mini Bassoon. It is currently being used in schools around the UK, including Hymers College, as well as overseas.

Transition smoothly to a full-size bassoon

The mini bassoon is a lot of fun. More and more music is written specially for it, and it’s even possible to play it for ABRSM exams grades 1-3. And, of course, mini bassoon players naturally progress to playing a full-size bassoon. Diana told us that this is a smooth process, ‘generally taking no more than half a term, or less.’ This is great news for the future of bassoon playing. Establishing the key work from a young age is paramount to this progression.

We would be delighted to see more children taking up the mini bassoon, not least because the benefits to cognitive development are impressive. We want the future of the bassoon to be secure. This beautiful and special instrument is a necessary voice in any orchestra; its mini brother is surely key to keeping it there. And it may make us smarter along the way.

The Ludlow Mini Bassoon comes with everything needed to get started, including a lightweight case. It is part of our Buy Back Scheme and our Try Before You Buy Scheme. For more information please visit us at

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Upcycle your bassoon

Upcycling: transforming well-loved items into something new, improved and ready to live again.

We often think of upcycling as simply to do with old furniture. But at Double Reed Ltd. we feel the bassoon is perfect for upcycling.

Often a bassoon has been enjoyed and played for a few years. Eventually the owner decides bassoon playing days have come to an end. Perhaps time is now too short or there are other instruments to be played. Sometimes a bassoonist owns a relatively new bassoon, but has decided it’s not for them. The bassoon goes away into a cupboard or the attic.

We don’t think that should be the end of such a wonderful instrument. Many bassoonists are passionate about finding good homes for their well-loved instruments, and so are we.

Many of the best bassoons are second-hand. If well looked after, they can last almost forever. We regularly hear from bassoonists looking for the right second hand instrument for the next phase of their career. They are perfect for the teenager just starting to play the bassoon, as well as for the professional playing at a high level.

If you have a bassoon looking for a new home, please contact us. We will carefully disassemble it, clean, adjust and oil it, change the pads, and if necessary give it a complete overhaul. Soon it will be in nearly-new condition, complete with a 12-month warranty, ready to be enjoyed and played by someone new.

To discuss bassoons, visit All our bassoons are eligible for Try Before You Buy and many are part of our Buy Back Scheme

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Big Double Reed Day 2016

Many intrigued bassoonists
We had a brilliant time at The Big Double Reed Day last Sunday 27th November. We enjoyed catching up with many previous happy customers, and hearing how their bassoon playing is advancing. It was great to see that bassoons sold by us, ranging from Kohlerts to Heckels, are well-loved and well-played.

Our stall with its 20 second hand bassoons proved very popular. Earning particular interest were our 4 year old Heckel bassoon and our baroque bassoon (circa 1750-1810). One professional bassoonist was particularly thrilled with our pre-war Kohlert, which apparently has a sound as smooth and rich as a Heckel!

Oliver giving bassoon-related advice

It is always particularly good to meet young bassoonists. It was interesting to see how many young students have started with mini-bassoons, which indicates that the future of bassoon playing is bright.

As usual, there were some excellent professional bassoon recitals and masterclasses from top British players, and enjoyable bassoon playing from bassoonists of varying ages and abilities. 

Our thanks go to the event's organisers, in particular Rosie Burton and Bob Porter, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. 

Were you at the Big Double Reed Day 2016? If so, please share your experiences!

To discuss bassoons, visit All our bassoons are eligible for Try Before You Buy and many are part of our Buy Back Scheme

Thursday, 10 November 2016

21 years to find the perfect bassoon

How long does it take to find the right bassoon? Many professional bassoonists play different bassoons for years before finding one with the right sound and play-ability. For Hing Sang Chin, Principal Bassoon with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, it took 21 years.

We were recently contacted by Hing Sang Chin, who was interested in one of our Heckel bassoons. For Hing Sang, it was to be the end of a long search. He has kindly offered to recount his experience, for the benefit of other bassoonists in a similar situation. Here is his story:

Hing Sang Chin, Principal Bassoon of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta

'In 1995 I started to work in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta orchestra. At the beginning I was playing a not very professional instrument, the Premier model of Püchner. It was not bad, but it didn't have even the high E key and, most of all, it didn't have the right sound for professional playing. For every single piece we performed, I had to put in extra effort for the most complicated fingering patterns.

The search for an ideal bassoon sound and, of course, an ideal bassoon is the normal path that every bassoonist takes.

I tried a 6000 series Heckel from München. However, the wood was rotten after only 2 years of playing. Then I had experiences with Moosmann and Yamaha. Well, they were good, but not what I was looking for.

Only after 21 years did I finally meet Oliver at Double Reed Ltd. Again, I wanted to try a 6000 series Heckel. I was really sceptical at the beginning. An instinctive feeling of trust in Oliver brought me to the UK. After the first day of the trial I fell in love with the bassoon. After testing it for three more days in all aspects, I decided to buy it.

I am really happy with this 6000 series Heckel and grateful to Oliver for introducing it to me.'

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Hing Sang Chin, and it was a pleasure to provide him with his Heckel bassoon.

Double Reed Ltd. currently has two Heckel bassoons in stock, a Heckel 7000 and a Heckel Crest. We have a regularly changing supply of bassoons, including Heckel bassoons, so get in touch if you too are searching for the perfect bassoon.

                                                            Hong Kong Sinfonietta

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sebastian New makes a surprising discovery

Sebastian New is a highly esteemed British bassoonist, regularly playing as guest principle bassoonist in the UK's top orchestras. He is currently principle bassoon player with the Orchestra of Opera North. We are delighted to have this guest post from Sebastian, one of our pleased customers.
The Orchestra of Opera North
For 25 years I played on two different Heckels  (a 9000 series & a 7000 series). They were both lovely instruments, nice even sound, fairly good scale etc. Just the sort of thing a lot of players aspire to, particularly if one has not played on a Heckel before. 
Just over a year ago I was browsing the Double Reed Ltd. website and noticed a Moennig compact bassoon for sale. I have always had a nostalgic feeling for the Moennig brand because I had a very good one when I was a student. In fact I did the first 8 years in this business on it and those that didn't know thought it was a Heckel.  
So on a whim I got Oliver of to send this Moennig compact up to me more for sentimental reasons than anything else as I had always regretted selling my original 1960's Moennig.
To cut a long story short I am now playing on this Moennig compact full time. It is just as resonant as my Heckels were, has a huge dynamic range. It is naturally much better in the high register (no need to change crook etc) and the intonation is better in this register too. I used it for a tour of Japan that included 4 rite of springs that just oozed out. The following month I had a couple of Ravel piano concertos where the high e just floated with no problems. Its tenor register is smooth and mellow but concentrated as well so it projects well. The bottom register is beautifully in tune and very flexible. I use this instrument with a Leitzinger MF1 crook.  
I have used this instrument to play guest principal in other UK full time orchestras as well as my own here at Opera North and had no issues whatsoever. 
I suppose the moral of this story is while top brand makes are of course a guide to the quality of an instrument one should keep an open mind as well because there are other 'corkers' out there that could be described as 'one offs' and because they don't have the 'badge' of being a top brand are consequently bargains! 
By the way although these Moennig compacts dating from the old East Germany era are quite rare Oliver has recently sourced another, might be worth a try?
Moennig bassoon gentlemans model
A Moennig compact bassoon

The Moennig bassoon Sebastian is referring to can be viewed on our website here: Moennig bassoon. Sebasatian's bassoon is identical to this. For any other information feel free to leave a comment or browse our website