The bassoon and contrabassoon are popular double-reed woodwind instruments found in orchestral, concert band, and chamber music, as well as in jazz and pop music (though not as commonly).
Since the bassoon is such a popular instrument, it's no surprise that there are plenty of options for student, intermediate and professional bassoonists. This isn't only true of individual instruments but also solo bassoon makers and larger brands.
With such a wide variety of choices, knowing the market’s top brands is useful. Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of a bassoon, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgment. In this article, I’ll share my take on the top bassoon (and contrabassoon) brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the bassoons
- Longevity of the bassoons
- Variety of bassoons available
- Accessibility of the bassoons (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The Top 11 Best Bassoon Brands Are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best bassoon brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable bassoon, and a link to their official website.
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The world’s biggest bassoon manufacturer makes over 2,500 instruments a year, employing 130 experts to do so. Moreover, Fox bassoons sell in every corner of the globe. This can be explained partially by the company’s founder being a member of the Chicago Symphony from 1922 to 1949. During that time, he grew a privileged ear to discern tones.
From day one, this player-centred approach has been the company’s competitive advantage. If you want the most musical, effortless, and great-sounding bassoon, you have to check Fox out before buying anything else.
Notable bassoon: Fox Professional Bassoon Model 685
Made with hand-picked red maple, this unique-sounding instrument is ready to take the world by storm.
Moreover, the walls of the instrument are thicker than the 680 model, offering the player a darker, richer, more concentrated tone and a superior dynamic range. As a result, soloists have virtually unlimited power to cut across any orchestra setting, preserving the tenor register's flexibility and singing quality.
This is the perfect instrument for the most demanding musicians in the world to show their talent.
Heckel was the instrument of choice of master composer and legend Richard Wagner. This closeness with the company that developed into a friendship gave Heckel the privilege of receiving advice from one of the most refined ears in history.
As a result, every Heckel instrument is ready to awe audiences night after night and take bold musicians to unknown sonic territories effortlessly.
In case you haven’t already, try Heckel bassoons and play the difference.
Notable bassoon: The Heckel Bassoon
Each Heckel bassoon is unique. Indeed, while the company builds each model utilizing only the best tonewoods dried naturally for over 12 years, players can choose from several customizations that make it unique.
Moreover, the Heckel bassoon results from the perfect combination of centuries-old practices and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. If you are after a unique instrument that has been almost two centuries in the making, you have to check Heckel out before buying.
The tragic history of Vizenz Püchner gave him an opportunity unlike any other. Indeed, he was an orphan at an early age and accepted by a family that taught him all the secrets to woodwind instrument playing and construction.
Young Vizenz grew up surrounded by that environment and was able to develop his talent both as a player and as a master builder. Nowadays, the Püchner family still employs the same techniques learned by Vizenz almost 200 years ago to create amazing instruments and sell them to elite-level players around the world.
Notable bassoon: Püchner Model Superior
Over 20 years of seasoning after being harvested, the curly red mountain maple of this bassoon sings with complex, defined, and rich tones.
Moreover, the 13 sterling silver keys are handmade and hand-assembled to perform flawlessly for decades. In the same vein, the 15 mother-of-pearl-style rollers and the gliding roller are made with the highest-quality material to ensure this elite-level instrument sounds and looks awesome for decades and plays effortlessly.
The Model Superior represents Püchner’s pinnacle, which might make it one of the best bassoons on the planet today.
Although he founded the company in 1992, Rudolf’s history with musical instruments goes back to 1964, when he started making tools to make instruments. From that moment on, he moved from one apprenticeship to another, improving his skills and learning the craft every step of the way.
Finally, by 1991, he was awarded the Master Craftsman Certificate in Munich, graduating with honours. His lifelong dream was finally fulfilled, so he decided to pour his talent and experience into the shape of stellar bassoons under his own brand.
The rest, as they say, is musical history in the making.
Notable bassoon: The Walter Bassoon
Entirely made of 12-year-old, hand-picked sycamore maple, this is the type of instrument that improves its sound through the years. Indeed, it is made by employing the traditional, centuries-old technique of old masters and the best cutting-edge technology available today.
As a result, this bassoon offers the player uncanny playability, organic sound, and a bond that can only grow with time. In this sense, the specially developed wood impregnation process prevents cracks or warping in years to come.
This is the perfect bassoon to grow old with; try one today and be part of Walter’s uncanny musical history.
Although most people don’t know it, for Yamaha, everything started with pianos. If you look at the company’s logo, you’ll find intertwined tuning keys that represent the musical beginnings.
With time, though, the company branched out, excelling in every niche they manufacture products for. This is not a random fact; on the opposite, it is the outcome of Yamaha’s commitment to excellence and relentless innovation.
Yamaha is a synonym for quality, sound, and performance; try a Yamaha bassoon today and hear the difference.
Notable bassoon: Yamaha YFG-821
Yamaha utilizes long, seasoned maple and a Heckel key system for their pre-war model. The larger bore and thinner walls give it extended flexibility that can be perfect for soloists and musicians who need an extended tonal range.
Furthermore, Yamaha’s engineers have worked hard on this design to solve some of the common tone quality and intonation issues bassoons have had historically. As a result, the lucky artists playing through this bassoon can be in control of even the most subtle tone shadings in every passage.
If you want to try the next level in bassoons, Yamaha needs to be on your list.
Stephan Leitzinger is a passionate man with one aim: to create the best, most musical handmade bassoons for elite musicians. To fulfill this goal, he makes each bassoon bearing his name with his hands combining the traditional German craftsmanship traditions with modern technology. As a result, every Leitzinger bassoon is a state-of-the-art instrument ready to shine on any stage.
If you are after an instrument made with the attention to detail only the human eye can have and craftsmanship that can last for decades, Leitzinger needs to be on your list.
Notable bassoon: Leitzinger Antique Finish Professional I
Utilizing Leitzinger’s Exclusive mechanical design, this bassoon is made of the highest-grade hand-picked curly mountain maple and sounds and plays as good as it looks. Moreover, the addition of finger holes lined with sterling silver tubes signifies that you’re holding a top-tier instrument.
In the same vein, the plastic-lined pivot screw keys, extra-low C key plate, handrest, and the Eb trill key can give seasoned players everything they need to play their hearts out night after night. Finally, the instrument is finished with a matte antique colour and comes with original Leitzinger bocals and a hardshell case with all the accessories.
This great-sounding bassoon offers the player rich overtones, a flexible, radiant, and focused sound with elite-level craftsmanship that can last for a lifetime in the right hands.
Although he started his company in 1994, Ben started his journey with this instrument in the 1970s as a repairman for Marcus Bassoon Repair in Toronto.
During those years as a repairman, he was able to work on some of the best instruments in the world. Thus, he learned what made each of them an outstanding instrument, as well as the design flaws that had brought them to his hands.
As a result, some consider Ben Bell to be the single best bassoon maker in the world today. If your budget allows it and you can wait for him to create your dream instrument, a Bell bassoon can be the best instrument you’ve ever played.
Notable bassoon: The Bell Bassoon
By selecting the four pieces of each bassoon from the same tree, Bell takes the resonance level of every bassoon to be unlike anything you’ve heard before. Moreover, each piece of wood is specifically selected by its weight, hardness, and specific gravity.
Furthermore, the vast majority of Bell bassoons are made of highly-figured European maple hand-picked for the occasion. Adding to the elite-level woods, the keys in every model are silver-plated and based on the conventional modern key design.
That being said, custom key work is available at an extra cost. Finally, every Bell bassoon ships in a Marcus Bonna case that fits in most airlines' overhead compartments, so you can take it with you always.
The first five years in the life of Schreiber Musical Instruments were spent repairing state-of-the-art instruments. During those years, experts working with Wenzel Schreiber gathered enough know-how to build the best bassoons in the market.
After 5 years of finding the secrets in the world’s best woodwind instruments, the experts at Schreiber poured their talent into the first handmade instruments. They were received with critical acclaim by connoisseurs and musicians in the vibrant music scene of the time.
Schreiber was acquired by Buffet-Crampon in 2010, adding the best manufacturing practices to the German hand-building secrets and tradition Schreiber accumulated for 60 years.
As a result, Schreiber bassoons are among the best in the world.
Notable bassoon: Schreiber S91 Professional Bassoon
With a body made of Alpine maple that was stationed and naturally aged for years and handmade key work featuring 28 silver-plated keys, this is a great-sounding bassoon in the key of C., but that’s not all; the Ab/Bb trill, 9 rollers, finger holes lined with sterling silver, and balance holder make it an effortless instrument to play.
Finally, the instrument ships with 3 bocals with a silver-plated outfit.
This is a great bassoon for the demanding player looking for a next-level instrument.
Most people know about Buffet-Crampon because the company invented the Boehm System for clarinets, the most widely used to this date. But that’s not the only thing Buffet has done for musicians since the company has been manufacturing state-of-the-art woodwind instruments for elite-level players for almost two centuries.
As you would expect, after that time spent manufacturing countless bassoons, innovation and quality are synonyms for the company name in Europe and the rest of the world. In case you haven’t tried one already, it is about time you give Buffet-Crampon bassoons a chance.
Notable bassoon: Buffet-Crampon Prestige 5613
Although this instrument carries almost two centuries of tradition in every note, the design has been improved to obtain optimum results. To begin with, the company reworked the tone hole layout as well as the bore completely.
In the same vein, the butt joint plug was redesigned, and the key work has been optimized. As a result of these innovations, this bassoon offers the player a larger, more homogeneous sound. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the bottom notes respond easily.
Finally, this bassoon is made completely in Amazon rosewood with silver-plated or lacquered copper keys and bocal.
Bernd started his career in his dad’s workshop when he could walk but officially made it to the apprenticeship position in 1972. By 1975, because of his talent, he won the national champion award at the “Leistungswettbewerb der Deutschen Handwerksjugend”. By 1981, he already had his certificate as a master craftsman.
The opportunity to pour all his talent into the shape of amazing instruments came in 1983 when he took over the old company “Kohlert”.
Today, Moosmann bassoons are shipped to every corner of the globe with critical acclaim. If you want to hear the difference Bernd’s expert hands can give to an instrument, try a Moosmann bassoon before buying anything else.
Notable bassoon: Moosmann Bassoon No. 222
Made from astonishing curly maple coming straight from the mountains of Bosnia, this bassoon gets a stained mahogany treatment and a thin layer of French polish lacquer.
Moreover, the 28 keys silver-plated in German silver ensure the player decades of beautiful tones and effortless playing. In the same vein, the player can choose between nickel-silver, sterling-silver, or standard hard rubber tubes for the fingerholes. Finally, the pivot screws feature a lock nut and high-tensile, hardened steel ball bearings.
The instrument ships with two elite-level bocals and a dedicated hardshell case.
Entire generations of players took their first steps in the music world, holding a Jupiter instrument in their hands. The company aims to offer great-sounding, in-tune, problem-free instruments for beginners to hone their craft at affordable prices.
This revolution that started in Asia has since spread to the whole world, and Jupiter has been the go-to option for beginners and students in every corner of the planet for decades. If that sounds like the kind of bassoon you’re looking for, Jupiter can’t go missing from your list.
Notable bassoon: Jupiter 1000 Series JBN1000 Bassoon
This is a great choice for beginners and students with a full German key system (also known as the Heckel system) that you would expect from a much more expensive instrument. In the same vein, the ABS resin body gives the instrument a level of endurance that adds to the odds of surviving life on campus.
Still, even having no wood on the body, this bassoon generates sounds so warm that you will have to look at the price tag twice.
Finally, it ships inside a wooden case that can protect it even from the roughest bus rides and bumps.