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Symbols and Figures on Bassoon Bocals

What do all these symbols mean?

The numbers on a bocal indicate its length. 00-0-1-2-3-4, with 00 being the shortest and 4 the longest.
The 1 and 2 are the standard lengths and the ones normally supplied with a bassoon.
The letters on a bocal are markers for the other parameters: the material used, the wall thickness and the contours of the bore.
The material most used is nickel silver. This is a brass alloy with a high nickel content. It is also sometimes called Alpaca. It is not a standard material, as the alloy’s composition can vary.
The exact proportions and production processes are usually closely-guarded trade secrets.
The choice of a bocal can have an enormous influence on the quality of the instrument.

Please note:
the lengths of the bocals are not standardized
. A number 1 from one factory may be longer than a number 1 of a different make.

Adler Sonora
Benson Bell
Fox
Gebr. Mönnig
Wilhelm Heckel
Moosmann
Paraschos
Jozef Püchner
Schreiber

 

Adler Sonora
(Two different names arose about 1920, for business reasons: Oscar Adler and Adler Sonora. Apart from the brand stamp, they are identical to each other.)

Oscar Adler & Co and Sonora bocals are always drawn from nickel silver and then silver plated.
The have a light and immediate attack, solid pitch and a direct sound.
Standard lengths 1 (444 Hz) and 2 (442 Hz).
Lengths 0 (446 Hz) or 3 (440 Hz) can also be supplied on request.

Benson Bell
When purchasing a bocal there are three variables to consider: the bore; the thickness of the wall and the length.
Three bores are available in the modern style. They will all have a two letter designation, the second letter indicating wall thickness.

C -standard, normal bore.
V -adjust 3rd octave.
E -adjust lowest octave.
One bore is available in the "pre-war" style. It will have a single letter designation, indicating only wall thickness.

All of our bocals are available with a normal (C"C") or thin (C"D") wall.

Available lengths are 1, 2, 3 -1 being the shortest and 3 being the longest.

Contra bassoon bocals
We currently supply a CC-type bocal for the contra bassoon in both thin and thick wall construction.

To order: info@bellbassoons.com


Gebr. Mönnig

The Gebr. Mönnig bocals are supplied in the standard lengths 1 (444 Hz) and 2 (442 Hz). Lengths 0 (446 Hz) or 3 (440 Hz) can also be supplied on request.

A Wilhelm Mönnig bocal is a standard bocal of drawn nickel silver, subsequently silver-plated.
An even attack, good lows and a warm sound.

Wilhelm Mönnig -x- is a hand-soldered bocal of nickel silver, silver-plated.
Very even attack, good lows and pleasant highs, warm sound.

Wilhelm Mönnig FC-x- is a hand-soldered bocal of nickel silver, silver-plated.
Very even attack, good lows and pleasant highs; a full, direct sound with a warm basis.

Wilhelm Mönnig VC-x- is a hand-soldered bocal of nickel silver, silver-plated.
It has a slightly wider bore than the FC, providing very even attack, good lows and highs with a slightly more subdues sound. It is also a little more resistant.

Wilhelm Mönnig FL-x- is a hand-soldered bocal of nickel silver, silver-plated.
Extremely good attack up to the highest register, a bit more reticent in the lower register.

Wilhelm Mönnig FF-x- is a hand-soldered bocal of nickel silver, silver-plated.
Extremely fine attack, particularly in the upper register; good lows and a full, direct sound with a warm basis.

W. Mönnig • Model Johannes Wahrig "CSL hard silver". This bocal has a special structure on its inner surface.
An equal and relatively light attack across the entire register; easy in the top register and a full, warm sound.

W. Mönnig • Model Johannes Wahrig "CSL platinum". This bocal has a special structure on its inner surface.
An equal and relatively light attack across the entire register; easy in the top register and a direct, full and warm sound.

 

Wilhelm Heckel
Constant development has resulted in a tremendous diversity of bocals with different bores and materials.
The many possibilities offered by Heckel bocals mean that a musician can eventually find a bocal that will meet every requirement. The different bores (C, B, BB, CE), combined with the variations in length and diameters have been manufactured by Heckel for many years.
Choosing the right bocal can solve a problem on a specific instrument, or at the very least minimize it.

The host of Heckel variants let a musician choose from about 6,000 different bocal specifications!

The different bores are designated with the following letters: C, CE, B, BB.
Thin-walled versions have the letter D added on. (CD, CDE, BBD)

The most commonly used bocals are those with the letter C, and they can be used for virtually any situation.
The types including the letter B are exceptionally good for the high register.
All of the bore types can also be supplied in a “V” version. These are better for older Heckel bassoons, providing better response in the middle and upper registers.

The following information will let you understand the possible options.
Basic metal
All Heckel bocals can be supplied in a range of materials.
There is a letter just above the cork.

German silver or nickel silver or alpaca "N" or "Z".
The “Z” bocals are made using a softer material than the “N”.
Due to their resistance, the thin-walled bocals are generally made from the harder material “Z”.
A thick-walled bocal can be made in hard material, when a “C” is used instead of “Z”.

Gold alloy “G”.
Gold alloy bocals are popular, after the standard German silver. They are better suited to chamber music, as their sound is somewhat rounder and softer.

Sterling silver 935 (1st content zilver) "S".
The characteristics are similar to those of the gold alloy, as the material is also softer. The sound is a bit brighter.

Gold “AU”.
A gold bocal has, on balance, a hard sound.
This bocal is rarely used, due to small demand and high prices.

Palladium alloy “PD”
This material can be used, due to various allergies, for instance the nickel in nickel silver.
The sound is absolutely wonderful, but they are extremely expensive.

Zinc plating
It is possible to buy an unplated bocal instead of one that is silver-, nickel- or gold-plated.

Lengths
All Heckel bocals can be supplied in different lengths from 0 to 4.
The standard is that a no. 1 bocal should be pitched at 442 Hz.

Shapes
In addition to the standard shape, a Heckel bocal can be supplied with a flatter bend for taller people. Special shapes can be manufactured, according to what the bassoonist actually wants.

The new “Generation XL”
These new bocals have been specially developed for improved response and resonance in the upper register, and have a CC bore. They can, of course, be supplied in all materials and lengths.

Contrabassoon bocal
Contrabassoon bocals are available in CC, CD and V types.
They can, of course, be supplied in all materials and lengths.

 

Moosmann
Moosmann makes two different types of bocals: “Excellent” and “Interpret”.
Both of them satisfy the production process parameters but they are quite different from each other.
Their resonance features can be described thus:

“Excellent”
This is the standard bocal. Less muffled and is comparable with a thick-walled bocal.
It is possible to play louder, which has its advantages in a large orchestral setting.
A larger, direct sound, resulting in more stability.
This can be played with less effort, but can be really powerful in solo passages.
These bocals are silver-plated, but can also be supplied with gold plating.

“Interpret”
Highly absorbent, with a similar effect to a thin-walled bocal, this bocal can be played with great sensitivity and is outstanding for use, say, in chamber music.
The tone can appear from virtually nowhere, with great and immediate resonance. Tremendous for use in staccato passages, as well as legato pieces; its rich graduation of tone is remarkable.

Remarkable features:

  • Greater scope for interpretation
  • Great richness of sound
  • Great flexibility
  • This bocal can be supplied unplated or gold-plated.

Meanings of the information on Moosmann bocals:

Length:
0 very short
1 short
2 normal
3 long

Material:
W nickel silver
G alloy
T gold alloy
B bronze

Wall thickness:
D thin wall
F thick wall

Bore type:
A straight conical
P parabolic

 

Paraschos
The wooden Paraschos bocal is made from two halves of milled rosewood. These are glued together ingeniously so that the glue joint is really strong. There are metal tubes at either end. The tip, where the reed is attached, has a brass insert and the cork is glued to a brass tube.
The bend, where the wood is weaker, is reinforced on its inner surface with a brass strip.
Warning: wood is always weaker than metal!

The wooden Paraschos bocals have quite a different sound spectrum than, say, the Heckel bocals. Wood resonates in a different way than metal. Projection throughout a hall is a little less, but the sound has an enormous breadth of resonance.
The Paraschos bocals are used a lot in baroque music, where this broader resonance really comes into its own. The sound blends especially well with cellos, for instance.
The Paraschos bocal is made in one length, somewhere between a conventional 1 and 2.

 

    Comment Section

    One thought on “Symbols and Figures on Bassoon Bocals


    By Eduardo Sirtori on 26 May 2017

    Hello! can you please give some information (bore, length, alloy, wall thickness) about the standard Buffet bocal?

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