Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 1

Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 1

Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 1



Many of my bassoon students who are starting out need guidance on what type of bassoon tools they should buy, and when it’s appropriate for them to buy them.


I think it’s easiest to think of augmenting your bassoon tools in three stages.

1. Reed maintenance and finishing.

2. Blank Making.

3. Cane Preparation.


Today we’ll discuss the first stage. Reed maintenance and finishing.




The above photo shows everything a bassoonist needs to finish a reed or maintain it.

Plauque- This arrowhead shaped piece of metal or plastic is slipped between the blades of the reed to add stability when working the cane with knives or files. Plaques start at $2-3.

Sandpaper- It’s important you you find an incredibly fine wet/dry sandpaper.  The best is the type that is used in painting cars.

Mandrel- Pictured is a doubled ended mandrel good for both finishing the reed and working on blanks. You may find the double duty economical. Mandrels start at around $15.

Reed Knife- These come in right and left handed versions. For beginners I recommend a plain beveled knife (pictured is a double hollow ground) because they are easier to sharpen and less expensive. Knives usually start around $40.

Files- These are jewelers files, sometimes also called needle files. A flat and a round. The flat is used for finishing the blades and the round for filing splinters from the inside of the tube after reaming.  You can find these for about $10 and up.

Reamer- Pictured is a M. Popkin reamer, the best there was and now they’re sadly not made anymore.  When purchasing a reamer, look for one with a fluted/spiral drill and make sure you can use it wet/dry.  Be sure to have an old toothbrush around to clean your reamer after use. Crummy reamers start at around $25 and go way up from there.

The plaque, mandrel, reed knife and reamer can all be purchased from a double reed supplier such as Forrest’s Music, Charles Double Reed, Miller Marketing, etc. The files and sandpaper can be found at your local hardware store.  All these items would likely run between $100-300 depending on the quality of your knife and reamer you choose.

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