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Four steps to choosing the right crook

May 2nd, 2018

A case of bassoon crooks at Double Reed Ltd.

A case of bassoon crooks at Double Reed Ltd.

One of the most distinctive features of a bassoon is the crook - the curved piece of metal that extends from the bassoon to the reed, which goes into your mouth.

Your crook will have a dramatic effect on the overall sound and playability of your bassoon. A good quality crook can make an ordinary bassoon sound good, and can make a top-quality bassoon sound even better. A poor-quality crook can have the opposite effect.

Why is the crook so important? Well, any air flowing through the instrument must first go through the crook, and because the crook has such a narrow bore diameter, even the slightest adjustment to crook shape or material can affect the rest of the tuning, intonation, sound quality and projection.

Bassoonists can spend a lot of time searching for the right crook.

Here are four steps to choosing the right crook.

  • Buy a crook that’s in good shape. A dent or bend in the crook can change the shape of the bore and affect the air flow through the instrument. This can have a strangling effect on your sound and may affect your tuning. Some crooks can be repaired if damaged.
  • Different crooks have different types of sound. It is sometimes said that Puchner crooks produce a dark sound, for example, and Heckel crooks are said to be some of the best all-round crooks. Heckel crooks made pre-1945 are well known for making a beautiful sound and are consequently highly sought after. Other highly regarded crooks include those made by Fox, Adler, Schreiber, Moennig, Yamaha and Leitzinger.
  • The type of metal the crook is made from affects the overall sound, so you may wish to try different types. Crooks are usually made from a copper alloy, often referred to as German silver, which is made up of a mixture of copper, nickel and zinc. Crooks can also be made in brass, gold, sterling silver, palladium and even wood.
  • The length of the crook affects the sound. They are numbered, usually from one to three. These numbers refer to the length of the crook, one being short and thus raising the pitch slightly, and three being longer and lowering the pitch slightly. If your bassoon plays flat or sharp a shorter or longer crook may help. 

At Double Reed we know that choosing the right crook is important. We match crooks to all our bassoons individually. Please feel free to contact us for advice.

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 Article Author: Oliver Ludlow, In-House Bassoon Specialist and Director at Double Reed Ltd.