Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 19:31:46 -0500
From: Chip Owen
Subject: [CB] heavy contrabassoon

Hello Laura,

I'm one of the people who makes those heavy contrabassoons.  I also play
contra professionally and am sympathetic with your problem.  But before you
go and start attaching wheels to the case let me tell you what I have seen
happen to contras that have been mishandled in cases with wheels attached.

Most of the cases with permanently attached wheels seem to belong to
schools.  By adding those wheels it seems that students are encouraged to
drag the cases across all sorts of obstacles.  The most damaging type of
obstacles are stairs.  The repeated shocks incurred by the instrument as it
is bounced down the steps will strip out the body screws holding the
instrument together.  This usually occurs in a way that gets overlooked,
except that the keywork is no longer in adjustment, particularly the
connection between the lower vent spatula and the low E key.  If you must
have wheels absolutely do not ever allow the case to bounce over obstacles.

The other problem that occurs is that the wheels are inevitably mounted on
the wrong end of the case.  This is not unreasonable since there is more
room in the case near the top of the instrument to put bolts through the
case to hold the wheel assembly in place.  Unfortunately, it also means
that when the case is stood on end the instrument inside the case is upside
down.  This allows the moisture left in the tuning slide to drain down into
the wooden bore of the instrument.  Remember, I said that these wheels are
most common in school situations and students are not known for taking good
care of school owned instruments.  If the instrument were right side up
that moisture (that should have been removed before putting the instrument
aside) would be sitting in a metal tube instead of rotting out the wood.

I've seen significant damage caused by mishandling of fine
instruments.  The instruments you use will serve you better if you are
conscientious in your care of them.

If you must have wheels take the advice of several respondents and use a
luggage cart or some method that allows you to remove the wheels when
you're not moving the instrument.

By the way, I use a gig bag, but that's a whole different set of ways to
cause damage.  At least I can sling the gig bag over my shoulder and still
pick up the bassoon and both instrument stands all at the same time.

Chip Owen
Columbia City, IN

At 03:20 PM 9/12/00 -0700, you wrote:
> >I have just joined the list and thought that I had better introduce
> >myself.  My name is Laura and I'm 15.  I play the bassoon and
> >contrabassoon.
> >I have a contrabassoon problem and am wondering if anybody can help.
> >The contrabassoon that I borrow is very heavy and so I have
> >difficulty carrying both my bassoon and contra to rehearsals.  I
> >have thought of making something with wheels on to attach to the
> >existing case.  I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who has
> >tried making something like this or knows where I can buy something
> >(cheaply!!!).
> >Laura Bennett (Leicester-England)


Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 14:20:49 -0400
From: Katherine Thompson
Subject: Re: [CB] carrying contrabassoon

A reply to Laura, who is having trouble carrying her bassoon and contrabassoon together. I have a contrabass clarinet-- the case is 6 feet long and weighs 34 pounds with instrument. I got a small golf bag cart, the kind with two wheels and it folds up. It works much like a dolly, and is easy to push or pull. The straps that hold on the golf bag just fit around my case. It works for me. Hope it helps.
Katherine Thompson


From: Heliconman
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 23:11:46 EDT
Subject: Re: [CB] heavy contrabassoon

In a message dated 9/12/00 5:58:27 PM Eastern Daylight Time, JWisniewski writes:

<< A contrabassonist I know got a pair of urethane skateboard wheels and
 attached them to one end of the contra case.  Then she used the handle on
 the other end to trail it behind her.  >>

Skateboard wheels can be a nice thing. I took my sousaphone in its case from
Boston to New Orleans by train a few years ago. I used a ratchet strap
(available at a local moving supply store such as U-Haul) to fasten the case
to a skateboard. It rolled very nicely through the train stations at
Washington DC, New Orleans, Chicago, New York and Boston and even did fairly
well on brick sidewalks. Steering was as easy as tipping the case toward the
intended direction. Sharp corners required a "wheelie" by tipping the
skateboard back on one pair of wheels. Perhaps a bit easier would be a
"little red wagon" such as those made by Radio Flyer. The wheels are suitable
for rough terrain and the front wheels pivot for easy steering. I've seen
"flatbed" type versions that might be more suitable for long instrument
cases. There were several wagons in use by folks bringing their goodies to
the Antiques Roadshow here in Boston recently.
 Or perhaps a retired baby stroller?!

From: "Spencer Parks"
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 10:59:35 CDT
Subject: Re: [CB] BBb Contrabass Clarinet Sighted

>High schools generally don't always employ them unless that
>particular school has the proper FUNDING to afford such instruments, and
>even still, if they can, many high schools may not use them much, as the
>majority of contra-intensive band material is on the higher end of the
>difficulty scale (but not always).

I was lucky (even though I didn't play them) at my High School because we
had both a Contrabass and Contra-alto clarinets.  The Contrabass (which was
in paper-clip form and we called the "plumber's nightmare") didn't exactly
work in the four years I was there, but it was really cool to see and hear
it (and the contra-alto) when I didn't know too much about them.

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at

***End of Contrabass Digest***

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-