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Which Püchner Bassoon would best suit me?

May 10th, 2024

Which Püchner Bassoon would best suit me?

Which Püchner Bassoon would best suit me?

Which Püchner Bassoon would best suit me?

Püchner has been making bassoons since 1897 and are one of the world’s most prestigious bassoon brands.

Out of all the models they have ever produced, which one would suit you best? We have seen and played every model ever made by Püchner and would love to share our verdict with you.

Püchner has always made bassoons for the professional market. Their instruments are of consistently good quality right across the 100 plus years of manufacture, and have been played in top orchestras since the beginning. 

But you don’t have to be a top professional to play them; buying second hand brings them within reach of the pockets of many keen amateurs. Read on to find out which model is best for you, amateur or professional. 

Let’s start with the Püchner Model 23 

Püchner Model 23

The Model 23 is the most iconic of all Püchner bassoons, and for good reason. The most popular model out of all the Püchner bassoons of the modern era, this instrument has proved time and time again that it is capable of being pushed to the limits by a professional player.

We all know that the bassoon as an instrument has many acoustical limitations, with its conical bore and complex, angled tone holes, but the Model 23 has been so carefully designed acoustically that it can be relied on to perform at the highest level.

Dynamic range is superb, tone quality is warm and round. Sometimes the sound can have a harder edge compared to a Heckel or other makes of bassoon, so I prefer a softer reed to get the most out of it in smaller ensembles to make pianissimo playing easy. That edge makes it king of the concert hall though, as it really carries well and cuts through on solo passages.

The Model 23 has always been very well equipped with professional keywork, which hasn’t always been standard on other makes of bassoon. These include 13 rollers (or more, in some examples), high D and high E keys, left thumb whisper key lock, and often a right hand Ab-Bb trill key.

Being the most common modern Püchner we often have Model 23s for sale second hand in amazing condition, both older and newer. The Model 23 goes back to the 1960s so they are available at a range of prices, depending on age and keywork. But they all share their renowned Model 23 characteristics and play superbly.

Who is the Model 23 for? 

Recent examples are ideal for professionals and aspiring professionals alike, and will hold their own in any concert setting. Older examples, sometimes with a bit less keywork and maybe not as good cosmetically, are often rather cheaper and come within the realms of the serious amateur or someone who is occasionally called upon to play in professional settings.

We currently have two Model 23s available in excellent condition - view them here: Model 23 (1) & Model 23 (2).

Or step up to the Püchner Superior? 

The Superior is a top-of-the-line, upgraded Model 23. Extra features include elegant rollers in mother of pearl style material and solid silver finger-hole liners. This model is rarely seen for sale second hand and is quite sought after. Well worth buying if within your budget.

In our experience it plays very similarly to a Model 23, but perhaps just has an edge over it in terms of stability and intonation.

Who is the Superior for?

The Superior is for anyone considering a Model 23 but is happy to spend a bit more for a better specification and a slight advantage in the concert hall – if you can find one.

Why not consider a Püchner Classic or Jubilee? 

Püchner Classic

These are the two other current models in the Püchner range, and they are variations of the two above, with less keywork and a lower price new. They offer the usual outstanding Püchner quality, i.e. thoroughbred professional instruments to the core. They are superb-sounding instruments and so are highly recommended to buy. These are also quite rare second hand.

Who are the Classic and Jubilee for?

Unfortunately, as so few are around second hand, if you want a Classic or Jubilee you are likely to have to fork out for a new one, so they will often be more expensive than a second hand Model 23.

They are ideal for those who are of the more purist outlook with regard to keywork, and don’t want or like the extra rollers that the Model 23 and Superior offer.

Or consider the Model 21 as an alternative to the Classic or Jubilee

The Model 21 was the precursor to the Classic, having been in production for a good few decades, and is one of our favourite models. It combines much of the quality of the Model 23, but with a bit less keywork and a lower price point.

It allows someone on a lower price-point to buy a top professional Püchner instrument whilst enjoying most of the same acoustical benefits. They are one of the more common instruments we see second hand. Keywork usually goes up to high D, and sometimes high E, with left thumb whisper key lock, finger hole liners.

It is well equipped for most players, and an instrument we highly recommend for its stable intonation and resonant sound. 

Who is the Model 21 for?

The Model 21 is ideal if you are looking for a professional bassoon on a lower budget, and also for those who prefer a more purist approach to keywork, with less bells and whistles but a very similar great sound as the Model 23 

Don’t forget the Vintage (pre-war) Püchners 

These were made by Vinzenz Püchner, the founder of the Püchner company, and can be wonderful bassoons. They are of their era - compared to new Püchners they have a slightly smaller and more focused sound, more like a pre-war Heckel bassoon.

They are often made of beautiful pieces of striped maple wood, and have the appearance of elegant old violins, with French polish varnish, which does not obscure the beauty of the wood. The sound can be resonant and flexible and you can get an awful lot of bassoon for your money.

We love these pre-war instruments. Although they are not suitable for professional playing, they can be wonderful bassoons. 

Condition is all-important though. Some of them will have had a hard life and need a lot of work to bring them up to standard (something we always do prior to sale, of course).

Keywork is another consideration – depending on exactly when they were made they will have varying levels of keywork; some can offer very basic keywork and most modern players will wish to upgrade them. 

Ideally, you should look for an example which already has a high D key, whisper key lock preferably and little finger rollers. We can fit these if they are lacking, and we can also fit finger-hole liners extending into the bore and voice the instrument for you if necessary. The results can be spectacular. We occasionally have nice examples for sale.

Who are Vinzenz Püchners for? 

They are ideal for keen amateurs looking for a pre-war Heckel-like sound on a budget, who are prepared to put up with a few quirks for the sound. Coming in at less than £10,000 fully restored and overhauled (sometimes quite a lot less) they are something like half to a third of the price of an equivalent-era Heckel.

Finally, how about a post-war period Josef Püchner bassoon.

Püchner changed their instruments after the war. In 1948 they moved to Nauheim. After about 1955, when Püchner moved to their current address in Beethovenstrasse, Nauheim, Püchner bassoons were often stamped Püchner Original.

They look, sound and feel different to Vinzenz Püchner bassoons. They are more modern in tone with more power to them. Nice examples play brilliantly and they are well worth buying. We class them in the professional bracket because of their fine tone quality and well balanced intonation. They usually have a darker red colour varnish.

Instruments we sell usually have a high D key, whisper key lock, little finger rollers and otherwise are quite standard in terms of specification.

As with Josef Püchners, owning to their age condition is all-important. We avoid the poor condition examples when considering what to offer for sale, but we can (and do) repair them to a high standard for customers; the work is skilled and takes time though.

Nice examples are often outstanding instruments.

Watch a video of a Püchner Original being played:

Who are Originals for?

They are ideal for professional players and keen amateurs looking for an instrument with a slightly thinner wall than a current model Püchner, and a resultant added flexibility to the tone.

They are also ideal for those looking for a professional quality bassoon at a lower price point by this famous maker, pitched between a Vinzenz Püchner and a Model 21.

If you are looking for all the bells and whistles of the Model 23 or Superior these are probably not for you (although we are happy to add whatever keywork you require, it may not be cost-effective if you wish to add everything to be found on a Model 23 say).

The sound it can make is warm and free.

There are of course other Püchner models that we haven’t covered in this article, such as the Model 22, 24 and Premier, but as they are less common we have focused on the ones discussed.

It goes without saying that the instruments covered in this article are from the perspective of buying second hand – always a more cost-effective option if you can find the right instrument in the right condition.

Contact us

If you like what you have heard, contact us to discuss options for a dream second hand Püchner bassoon. We love these instruments and usually have plenty of choice.