To put it simply, buying a bassoon is not cheap. Most schools provide bassoons to any student willing to play it. However, there are instances where a student will absolutely need to own his/her own. In those cases, there are a few things to consider before buying a bassoon.
When will I need to have my own bassoon?
More often than not, school provided bassoons are abused, neglected, improperly maintained, begging for repair, and in just overall unacceptable shape. Considering spending your own money to get one of the school's bassoons repaired, because most school budgets don't allow for all problematic instruments to be fixed, especially ones that are used as infrequently as the bassoon. An unsatisfactory school instrument is a stand out reason for needing to buy your own. Also, the more talented a student is, the more he/she will benefit from having their own instrument.
A new bassoon can cost anywhere from $5000 to upwards of $20,000. Used bassoons can be had for as little as $2000, but can skyrocket to the same price as a new one, so some comparison shopping work wonders. If you're buying a bassoon for the first time, try bringing someone with you who is an expert on the subject, as it takes an experienced eye to spot a lemon.
Most importantly, go out and try some bassoons for yourself. There's no better way of finding what you need in an instrument than actually playing it. If you're lacking experience in the field, bring your (student's) teacher along, or someone else you know who's a bassoon expert. Although sales people are generally friendly and will answer any questions you have about an instrument, they'll try taking advantage of you if they can sense you're inexperienced. Having an expert on hand will counteract both the sales person's eagerness to make a sale and your temptation to buy the first or prettiest bassoon you see.
Bottom line - buy the most expensive bassoon you can afford to buy, as long as it fits your needs.
What makes a bassoon a bassoon
There are a lot of components into making the bassoon the instrument that it is, including the material that it's made of and the keywork. These elements can be customized to any player's preference, so it's important to know what suits you best.
The keywork on a bassoon is the most complicated keywork on any woodwind instrument. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering hardware for your bassoon.
* '''Keep it simple''' - too much keywork only confuses the player.
* '''Plateau vs. Ring Keys''' - The third finger hole for the left hand usually has a ring key surrounding it. However, a plateau key can be added for players whose fingers can't quite stretch enough to reach the ring key. This reduces the stretch to reach the ring key, and are typically used by younger students.
* '''High D Key''' - This is a strongly reccomended key, as it has become a more important element of the modern bassoon player's instrument. Most bassoons come equipped with a high D key now, but some models geared at school use may not include it. Make sure that the high D and C keys are on seperate hinges.
* '''High E Key''' - Basic use for professionals, but not typically used by students.
* '''Rollers''' - Modern bassoons include two rollers, which is not necessarily a good thing. These generally make the distance the fingers need to travel between key greater, so they can actually hinder a player's flow.
* '''Whisper Key Lock''' - Beginners do not need these, but they are a nice add-on to any intermediate player's instrument and included on any professional bassoon. Some types are easily added to any instrument.
* '''Body Lock''' - Optional for professional models, these help keep parts that might otherwise move together. Necessary for student or plastic models.
* '''Bb Guard''' - Low cost add-on that keeps clothes from interfering with the keys. Can be easily added to any bassoon that does not have one.
Models to consider
* '''Fox model IV bassoon'''
** Polypropylene body with full keywork and professional bocals make this an excellent value.
*** Keys include high D key and a ring key. Optional keywork is also available.
* '''Renard model 222'''
** Lowest priced wood model made by Fox.
*** Normally equipped with a plateau key, but a high D key is reccomended.
*** All 222s have been silver plated, making them more appealing.
* '''Renard Artist models 220 and 240'''
** These bassoons are the leaders among intermediate and semi-professional players.
** Comes equipped with high D & E keys, whisper key lock, and extra rollers.
** Both models are acoustically unique, and both will serve a student well. However, check with your teacher to see which model he/she prefers.
** Ideally owned by private owners, and should last well past high school.
* '''Fox models 601, 201 and II'''
** Designed for professionals, these bassoons should not be bought until the student has demonstrated development and maturity.
** Usually, these aren't purchased until a student has committed to a music degree program.
** These bassoons should be bought with the assistance of your teacher(s).