Here are my suggestions for gadgets that bassoonists may or may not find useful.

Not exactly a gadget but I would say a necessity is a pair of ear plugs for when you find yourself in front of the Brass or Percussion. I have found that the best type are simple ones that you can insert and remove quickly and easily. The the ones I use are ‘Express E.A.R’ earplugs. Available on Ebay search for ‘3M E.A.R Express Pod Earplugs’.

During long rests in the orchestra or in gaps in a practice session or when adjusting reeds, a bassoon stand to hold your instrument is very useful. It takes the weight off your arms and prevents moisture from getting into the finger holes or the unlined half of the butt joint.
The neat design pioneered by Fox ( which I use is much more stable than it looks and good value. If you play in many different venues, the folding design might be preferable.

The oddly named Bassoon-a-Ruta, which is now sold by , is a large plastic ‘cork’ which fits in the end of the bell joint so that you can then form a partial vacuum inside the whole bore of the bassoon which is then used to suck out any moisture in the finger holes or octave keys or any other keys that have got wet. All done quickly and pretty much silently and not too off-putting for audiences or colleagues. I wish one was made for oboists. These are excellent value at about $10.50. But I reckon a suitably sized cork, perhaps from a glass jar or something similar would do the trick just as well.

If you need to check your tuning on a tuning machine while you’re playing in the orchestra it’s worth getting a ‘contact microphone’ that you can clip to part of your instrument (perhaps the crook). In this way, the machine only picks up what you yourself are playing and, just as importantly, your colleagues are not made to feel paranoid. Make sure you get one that is compatible with your tuner and also picks up the whole range of the bassoon (and contra if necessary). I use a combination of Korg OT-120 tuner with a Seiko STM-20 microphone which works very well. If a music shop won’t let you try something out, take your custom elsewhere.

Antti Pakkanen, a bassoonist from Finland, has developed a ‘Light Plaque’   ( which takes a lot of guesswork out of the final scrape of a bassoon reed. It works by shining a bright light into a perspex plaque which then highlights differences in thickness in each blade. If you’re sure the two blades of your reed are identical, this doesn’t really do anything more than an Anglepoise desk lamp does but it will help you to remove any descrepancies. I know of a couple of players who wouldn’t be without theirs and, at under 100 Euros, it’s paid for itself after you’ve managed to produce just a few ‘perfect’ reeds.

A great problem in modern air-conditioned concert halls and houses with central heating is very low relative humidity. This dries out the wood which causes all kinds of problems from reduced resonance to keywork sticking and, at worst, cracks developing. The best solution I have found is to use a ‘Stretto’ humidifier ( inside my bassoon case. This is a compact plastic box with silicon crystals in it. When they stop working properly, just replace the silicon with a bit of that spongey stuff that you use in the kitchen to wipe down surfaces.