Leitzinger Bassoons and Crooks
NEWS: I currently have a new batch of Leitzinger crooks in the UK for you to try by appointment. Please contact me via the contact page to arrange a visit.
I have been the official UK contact point for Leitzinger crooks (bocals) and bassoons for five years. Helping someone find a crook or an instrument is a big responsibility! But it has also been incredibly rewarding when the emails and calls I have had from players who have taken the plunge show me they can now create a bigger dynamic range, blend more easily, eliminate many of the "these notes are always out of tune" problems and of course ENJOY playing the bassoon that much more. If you have any questions then email me via the contact page.
I have been playing on Leitzinger crooks since 2009 after hearing about them when out playing with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra where the first bassoon was very proud of her flexible Leitzinger crook on her Heckel 12000 series. I used these crooks on my pre war Mollenhauer to great effect and then on my 13000 series Heckel and loved the wide dynamic range and even scale.
I then found that that on trying Leitzinger instruments that they had these same characteristics - flexibility and stable intonation and great sound! In May 2013 I became the proud owner of a Model 1 Leitzinger. It has proved to be the most flexible instrument I have ever played with rock solid intonation and a lovely projecting sound. For the full story and review see this article on my blog - click here: musicmatters-bassoon.blogspot. ... -adventure.html
For those who play other makes of instruments I recommend trying Leitzinger crooks (Bocals). Leitzinger produce a vast range of styles so that you can match the crook to your bassoon and reeds and performance requirements. The main feature most people notice immediately is that with the right crook the bottom is not too sharp, the tenor not too flat and the high B and C not too sharp, with the octaves more balanced and in tune on a variety of reeds. But it is once you are in the orchestra that the full benefit of these crooks becomes apparent. It is their ability to creep around pianissimo and create a real fortissimo that makes these such a hit with pro players around the world.
More information on "Leitzinger Bocals" can be found below.
This testimonial from a UK principal bassoon player also confirms my own experience:
"I heard a lot about Leitzinger crooks so purchased a silver plated MV1 several years ago which I used to use for pieces with high solos (in place of my favourite CC1 which had a lovely depth of tone but wasn't nearly as versatile). Then I recently tried a Leitzinger MF1 with platinum plating and there is no going back. Not only does it have the depth of tone of my CC1 and more, it also has the versatility I've been looking for, it does everything. I've just done a Japan tour with several Rites of Spring, Shostakovich 10's & Firebirds and it made my job a pleasure and didn't let me down at all. Yes the MF1 platinum plated Leitzinger crook is about of the most expensive crooks you can buy but it is worth every penny if you want something that is stable with a nice sound, and can play pppp to ffff from the bottom to the very top register of the bassoon on just about any reed. I wish I'd bought one years ago." S.N.
And another recent email from a player who had tried many many different crooks:
"I can't remember playing on a better crook than the F. It allows a very wide range of dynamic, so that one has no need to fear comments about "the loud bassoon" in music where the part might be played on a cello rather than a bassoon, and you're conscious that cellos can be played on one hair of the bow. One does not have to lose the beauty of the sound because one is playing at very low volume. Its been my practice, often, to use different crooks according to the type of ensemble I've been playing in. I may no longer have to do that! The intonation is good as well! T.O."
Choosing a crook for your bassoon
As you will see from the Leitzinger website, there are many letters and numbers to choose from and this can be overwhelming for someone who has decided to try them or feels "it's time for a better crook". I am here to help.
www.leitzinger.de/en/instruments/bocals/ has the full list of styles.
I have a range of Leitzinger crooks to try so that you can make an appointment to try these and find what suits your bassoon, reed style and playing style. Then having narrowed this down already you can order this style direct from Leitzinger and have a selection sent to you to choose from.
The M or S on the crook is the first choice to make. The M are the thicker walled crooks and the S are thin walled. Trying both will show you what helps your bassoon vibrate in a way that suits your needs.
Having a range of reeds available when trying crooks is also a key factor. Your favourite reed blown in on the crook you have been playing for years will limit your view of what a new crook can do. By having a few reeds to try as you test different crooks you can get a much better idea of the potential.
To give you some idea how this would work, let's say you have a very free blowing instrument with little resistance. It all "works" but you are looking for more dynamic range and depth in the sound. We can try the most resistant crooks such as those marked "E" or the mid range "N" and find a balance that gives you something to work against, improves the very top register and transforms the instrument.
Or another scenario where you have a thick walled modern instrument which you are finding too resistant and that takes a lot of air pressure to get going, making pianissimos uncomfortable. Finding an open free blowing crook with the "V" marking above the cork could help a great deal.
The flagship crook from Leitzinger is the platinum F series. I have raved about these in other articles as they have a great sound and a huge dynamic range. However, they also don't need a thick reed to sound great so players trying them with the same reed that works well on their favourite silver plated crook don't always appreciate this in the first few minutes. The "blind test" in the hall is the one that has the jaws dropping on these crooks.
Thus the task is balance and the question of how much or little resistance you like. Where do we put the resistance? This can be in the instrument itself with different types of wood and bore and wall thickness, in the crook with all the lengths and plating and shapes or in the endless variety we can create with the reed. Matching the "expected response" to the bassoon and the player's expectations and reeds is the purpose of my setting up in the UK.
Contact me now via the "contact" page for an appointment if you are seriously looking for a change.