The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the tenor and bass register.
Like the oboe, the bassoon is a double-reed instrument, because the mouthpiece has two reeds that lie very close together. Unlike the oboe the shawm-like sound that this mouthpiece produces is tempered by the U-shaped bend of its wind duct, so that bassoon notes are not a homogeneous continuation of the lowest notes of the oboe’s compass.
The bassoon’s conical tube consists of the following five components:
Crook or bocal: A narrow, curved metal tube connecting the double-reed mouthpiece to the wood body; the bocal has an aperture for the so-called piano mechanism; the bassoon’s overall intonation can be altered by the use of bocals of differing length.
Wing joint: the bocal joins the straight, wood wing joint or tenor joint, which is shorter and narrower than the long joint that runs parallel to it.
Double or butt joint, boot: the boot is a U-shaped hollow piece of tube which is attached to the wing and long joints. The hand rest for the right hand is screwed onto the boot, which ends at the bottom with a metal U-bend.
Long joint: This is the longest piece of tubing, and is parallel to the wing joint.
Bell: is often finished with an ornamental rim of ivory or plastic. If an A bell is fitted to the customary Bb bell the instrument’s range is increased by a half tone downward to A1.
In the 20th century the German Heckel bassoon (that originated with Carl Almenraeder and Johann Adam Heckel) with its 24–27 keys and five open fingerholes became the international standard.
The French Buffet model, the basson, has 22 keys and six open fingerholes. Its tube is narrower, which means the highest notes speak more easily.
Aerophone, double-reed instrument, woodwind instrument
Maple (wood body), brass, nickel silver (bocal, keys, U-bend)
Double reed, 15.5 mm wide: two reeds lying close together (material: arundo donax), striking reed
Length 250–259 cm, U-shaped, conical
Very narrow; tapers from 4 mm (wing) to 40 mm (bell)
Keys / fingerholes
24–27 keys, 5 open fingerholes (Heckel bassoon)
Cylindrical, finished with an ornamental rim of ivory or plastic
Approx. 135 cm