Contrabass Digest

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From: "Steve Weinert at Excel.Net"
Subject: [CB] Almost as low..........
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2001 18:35:33 -0600


Developing out of a Bass Saxophone Case Design Project, a Yahoo
Groups List the Bass Sax - "The Bass_Sax_Coop · Bass Saxophone
Cooperative" has been set up.

The URL is:

Subscribe:  Bass_Sax_Coop-subscribe @

Already quite a few Photos (30+), Bookmarks (16+) and three database
projects (One on sizes for the case project, a Bass Sax repair list and one
on members Bass Saxes).

Please consider yourselves invited and welcome!

Steve Weinert - srw           - Manitowoc, WI


Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2001 23:57:44 -0400
Subject: [CB] <no subject>
From: Robert Howe

Hello Friends,

I would like to share my recent experiences in buying a contrabassoon with
this list.  Many readers were kind enough to send me useful information, and
I thank you all.


Adler--no real information.  Low priced at $9K

Amati--people generally disliked them.  Those who liked them ALWAYS
qualified their comments with a mention of the low price $4-5K.  I was
looking for a fine musical instrument at a good price, not a cheap one that
might play well and might not.  Jonathan at WW&BrassW in New York tells me
the new design Amati (past three years) is much better, but this begs the
question, better than what?  Also, this is what he has to sell.

Buffet--one writer plays a Buffet contra, but being French systeme bassoons
these are not  readily available in the US.

Fox--drew the best reviews of any brand; clearly the favorite make in the
USA.  ALL writers (almost 30) spoke well of them, even those who play other
makes.  Available on order for about $17K thru any Fox dealer, wait about 6
months, price will vary with the dealer.  NO  dealer has one in stock, or I
would own one; I really wanted to patronize Chip Owens if I could.    I was
partial to Fox and remain so now,  both from national pride and from working
for 10 years with Russ Hill, who made his 1987 Fox contra sound as sweet as
John Mack's Lorée oboe.  Weiner's in NYC has one used but as I negotiated
with them a serious problem arose; write me privately for more information.
Used in Cleveland O. and NY Phil.

Heckel--drew mixed reviews, the standard name, but has a very high price and
long wait.  None available.

Kroner--Only one writer replied, did not like them.  Available in two models
for 9K, 13K.

Mollenhauer--Received 8 very positive reviews, including positive comments
by people who play other brands.  The ONLY 2 negative comments were that
they sounded too nice, blended too well!  Available from Greg Henegar in
Boston for $16.5k ($5k down and the rest on arrival; he offers a $100
discount for each extra $1000 put down, so it could be had for $15.5k if
paid fully up front).  Greg includes initial service by Carl Sawicki.  Altho
Greg advertises as the Exclusive Importer, RDGilbert in LA has one in stock
for $17.5K; RDG states the list is 28K.  Used in Boston SO, Houston, Phoenix
and LA Phil.

Moosman--drew few responses, being a new brand.  Available from Justin
Miller in Wayne PA, he has one in stock for about $15K which is now being
used in Philly Orchestra.  I almost bought it.  Maybe I missed my chance to
be the first in New England to own the hottest new contrabassoon.

Puchner--no one commented.  From Custom Music for $25K.  They consider it a
Heckel equivalent.

Schreiber--No one commented on this make, but these are made by and
indistinguishable from the Mollenhauer and this is what I bought.  I got it
from RDGilbert after it was approved enthusiastically by a prominent LA
player.  The list is 28K, his usual discounted price 17.5K (both same as
Moles), I saved significantly by buying a demo model in new condition.    I
own a Schreiber Artist bassoon but this did not influence my choice.   They
also make a low A model.

Wolf--Art Grossman uses (which is true praise) and sells these, but only one
other person commented, he also was favorable.  Cost about $17K, Art
estimates a 6 month wait.  Their ContraForte is a seperate item, a different
instrument entirely.

More to follow.

Robert Howe


Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2001 23:58:12 -0400
Subject: [CB] <no subject>
From: Robert Howe

More on the Contrabassoon purchase...

I DEALT WITH THESE DEALERS (listed alphabetically):

Boosey & Hawkes, LA--they import Schreibers, I figured they might have a
demo, they did and they referred my call to Gilbert where it was for sale.
Very helpful.

Custom Music, Michigan.  They deal in Puchner and Kroner.  Helpful, sent
information promptly.

Forrest's, Berkely.  Very helpful, offered to order me a Fox with just a
promise to buy.  Offered to keep an eye out for a used horn.

Fox Products, Indiana.  Perfect to deal with, helpful and courteous, great
website.  Chip Owens provided date of manufacture information about the few
used Foxes available in this country.  The only American maker of

RD Gilbert, LA: A well-known dealer, sells Schreiber bassoons.  I bought my
Schreiber contra from him on a phone call, a credit card # for the deposit
and a promise to pay the balance promply (which I am).  He had it on
consignment from Boosey & Hawkes.  We had one glitch near the end but ended
up with a satisfactory deal and smiles all around.  RDG offers a free
service in 6 months but I cannot avail myself of this here in Massachusetts
and his nearest surrogate is in Chicago, so I will forgo this.

Greg Henekar, BSO contrabassoonist--very nice, helpful, honorable, answered
calls and sent brochure. Sells Mollenhauers on special order, about a half
dozen a year.  Unfortunately he keeps no instock instrument or I would have
driven an hour and brought one home a month ago.  His expertise makes him a
most logical person to buy a Mole from.

Peter Landry, NYC--very helpful, sought out a used instrument, worth calling
if you are looking for a used contra yourself.

Miller Marketing, Wayne PA (Moosman).  Justin Miller is the nicest man on
earth, helpful and personable, even though I did not buy his bassoon he was
always more than civil.  When we negotiated I did not know he loans a
Moosman contra to Philly Orchestra on occasion.  Had I known, I would have
bought the one he has in stock.  Modesty is not always a virtue!

Edmund Neilsen, Chicago--Ed is now gone, his widow Dorothy sells Heckel

Rayburn's, Boston.  The sales clerk Sharon, herself a bassoonsit, was very
nice and offered to bring another bassoonist to help check out the Amati
they have on consignment.  It is at least 10 years old, so I declined.
Rayburn's does not keep contras in stock, but you can always find a bass
saxophone! (another conical woodwind that descends below the bassoon)

Washington Music Co, silver Springs MD--very nice folks.  They keep a
standing order for Foxes, 5 or so a year.  Matt was very helpful.  But their
Fox stock was already sold thru May 2002, so I looked elsewhere.

Weiner's, New York--Had a used Fox which I lusted for; I called Matt
(presumably a different Matt) but he was tough to deal with, would not
return calls, would only sell if I came to them with cash or certified
check.  Some other negatives which I can discuss privately.

Wichita Band Instruments.  Very curt and impolite, not worth a call.

Woodwind and Brasswind, Indiana.  I have bought a lot from these guys, but
not a contrabassoon.  Polite, but not helpful at all; not sure what they
could get, when or for how much.  Advertise Fox, Adler, Amati; only Amatis
in stock.

Woodwind and Brasswind, Manhattan.  Jonathan spent a good time on the phone
with me.  Steered me strongly to Amati despite my noting that I wanted a
better horn; undoubtably, this is what he had on the shelf.  His colleagues
were rude to me when I called to ask questions, although he was not.

In summary, I saw Fox, Mollenhauer, (including Schreiber), Wolf and Moosman
as valid brands to buy.  Had a Fox been available, anywhere, I would have
tried it first.   I was constained by wanting an instrument right away and
so I chose first on availability and second on reputation and then finally
on price.  With a little time on the phone, you can buy a contra below list
price and save enough money to put your oldest kid thru two years of college
(I am only mildly exaggerating!).

If you want a contra right away, call Miller or Gilbert or Fox (Fox, to see
if they know of any for sale in stock elsewhere).  Mr. Miller keeps a
Moosman contra in stock; otherwise, you will just have to wait.  Prices and
delivery times are remarkably similar between Fox, Wolf and Mole.

Can anyone tell me why the nice contras all have animals in their names?

Robert Howe

***End of Contrabass Digest***

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