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The bassoon is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which is in the tenor and bass position. The name bassoon is derived from the old French word fagot and the Italian fagotto, which means bundle or brushwood and indicates the construction of the instrument. The bassoon has a range of B♭1 to A♭5.


The bassoon is about 1.35 m high and has 19 standard tone holes and up to nine other tone holes, which serve to regulate the intonation and playability of the instrument.

The instrument consists of four parts, mostly made of maple wood: the bell, the long joint, the wing joint and the boot joint. A double reed is inserted to the mouthpiece attached to the wing joint of the S bocal. The S-bocal can consist of various metals and alloys, such as gold, silver, nickel or platinum. The boot joint consists of two parallel bores, which are connected at the bottom by a U-shaped brass tube. By the boot joint there is a hand rest for the right hand, which serves as a support for the bassoonist while playing.

The bassoon can be played while standing or sitting, with the instrument always held diagonally in front of the body. The sound is produced by a double reed, which usually consists of giant reed (Arundo donax), a reed grass. Air is blown into the instrument which causes the two reeds to move, which in turn causes the air column within the instrument to oscillate. Through the individual tone holes that are covered with the help of fingers and keys when playing, the length of the oscillating air column can be regulated and thus the pitch can be determined. Double reeds are usually constructed by the bassoonists themselves and can be played for about three to ten weeks. Even the smallest changes in the choice of wood or the thickness of the material can result in great changes in sound and playability.

The bassoon generally produces a round and clear tone. Above all, it has a full deep sound, and reaches a tender tenor voice at a high register.


The name bassoon dates back to the 13th century. Here it appeared for the first time in the old French word fagot, which means bundle or brushwood bundle. It can be concluded that the bassoon was named after its construction, because the individual parts of the instrument can be put together like a bundle. In Italian, the term fagotto with the same meaning, can only be evidenced from about the year 1500. One of the earliest records of the German bassoon can be found in an inventory of musical instruments from 1566. In this inventory and in the descriptions of the composer and scholar Michael Praetorius, the bassoon was always referred to as a male instrument. It was not until the 19th century that the bassoon became more and more popular in bourgeois parlance. Today, both terms are applicable.

The precursor of today’s double reed instruments is the bass pommer, bombardo or bombarde, commonly used in the 16th century. This is an eight feet long woodwind instrument with a double reed from the shawm family. The pommer consists of a long, straight-lined wooden joint with a strong conical bore, which gives it a harder sound. It also has a bell and nine tone holes, of which at least one tone hole is covered with a key. The range of the bass pommer is from C2 to B3. This instrument, which was gradually replaced, is still considered the original type of bassoon.

In addition to the bass pommer, the bassoon, however, developed mainly from the dulcian, also called dolcian. The dulcian, unlike the pommer, consists of a long, double-holed piece of wood with two adjacent air channels, similar to the boot joint of today’s bassoon. Usually, on the side of the long joint there is also a short, very wide drilled bell, whose upper end is normally closed by a perforated capsule for sound attenuation. As the name suggests, the dulcian sounds nobler and rounder than the bass pommer, because of its gently rising bore (Italian dolce – sweet). The tone colour is also more subdued and adaptable than that of the bass pommer, which was favoured in earlier instrumental music at the beginning of the 17th century. The pitch range of the dulcian corresponds to that of the pommer, however it can reach D4 at its highest tone, possibly even G4. The connector between the instrument body and mouthpiece is a curved, conical metal tube, which is similar to today’s S-bocal. Since the tube is not capable of shading, the sound generated is much more like a buzz, humming or whirring. To date, the dulcian is considered the direct predecessor to the bassoon.

The development from the dulcian to today’s four-part bassoon took place in several stages and was not completed until the second half of the 17th century. The background to this change was not just the fact that it was easier for musicians to transport the instruments if they could be split into sections, but above all that drilling could be done precisely in shorter pieces of wood. While the dulcian was still equipped with two keys the first bassoon already had F, D and C keys. The later addition of a G# key laid the foundation for the hand position used while playing the instrument today.

Even in the 18th century the bassoon was constantly evolving and the quality being refined. Additional keys were added, such as the F, A♭, and E♭ keys, as well as the later development of the binding key, whereby the B4, C5, C#5, D5 and D#5 could be achieved. At that time the bassoon had already become a much-loved and indispensable part in the orchestra.

At the beginning of the 19th century, instrumental music was constantly perfected. This led to an ever-increasing occupation of the orchestra, ever-increasing demands on the musicians, and higher demands on the instrument makers. In addition, this period was marked by general confidence in progress and the use of science-based research in the field of acoustics. This was followed by constant experimentation and testing, with the aim of constructing the perfect bassoon.

The instrument makers Carl Almenräder and Johann Adam Heckel undertook their joint company venture in 1831 and the J. A. Heckel and Carl Almenräder bassoon factory was established. They revolutionised the design of the bassoon with the so-called Heckel system, which is still used by almost all bassoon manufacturers worldwide.

The main focus of Almenräder and Heckel was on the uniform sound strength and purity of the tones, which was achieved by a significant change in the bore and key mechanism. The significant achievements of the Heckel-Almenräder bassoon were also the large, even tone, a light and specific response, and a spanning range of almost four octaves.

Another fundamental change to the bassoon was the U-tube on the boot joint. Previously there was a cork stopper, which was very cumbersome when cleaning. This was replaced by a curved semicircle, cast tube which was soldered to plate which could slide or be pushed. In addition, a B key was attached to the boot joint, with the aim of obtaining a good B. The attachment of a B1 key and a deep C# key were among Almenräder’s and Heckel’s other revisions. In addition, the tone hole of the deep F was moved and the so-called E-plate introduced. At the time, this refurbished bassoon caused quite a stir, especially since it went chromatically down to B♭1, thus surpassing and supplanting all other bassoons that had been in use at the time.

Johann Adam Heckel’s successor, his son Wilhelm Heckel, also set himself the task of steadily improving and revising the bassoon. He achieved this mainly by altering the cone of the instrument, whereby a vocal sound could be achieved over the entire circumference of the bassoon.

The shortcomings of the bassoon when compared to other woodwind instruments, such as the oboe, flute or clarinet, were finally eliminated at the beginning of the 19th century by the modification of the cone, the installation of a new key mechanism and the installation of tone holes. Therefore, the bassoon met all the requirements of the great musicians and composers, including Richard Wagner, for the first time. He responded to the new Heckel bassoon with the following words:

“I have never been shown better and more beautiful-sounding bassoons than Heckel’s bassoons.”
Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, 1879

At the suggestion of Richard Wagner, Wilhelm Heckel felt compelled to build the bassoon to A1. He was therefore able to put his bassoons on the same level of perfection as the rest of the orchestra’s woodwind instruments.

From 1889, Wilhelm Heckel finally began to bore the wing joint and narrow side of the boot joint of bassoons and line them with natural rubber. This material prevented any moisture generated by playing from penetrating the wood pores of the boring and causing the instrument to rot from the inside. In addition, the rubber produced a mirror-smooth and pore-proof inner wall, which allowed a simple response and brilliant tones.

Crest Bassoon

The Crest is a bassoon model produced in 1997 by Angelika Lucchetta and Ralf Reiter. The reason for this development was the repeated demand from customers for a high-quality but less expensive Heckel bassoon, which was particularly suitable for students.

These bassoons were initially made under the name Opus, but in 1997 it was decided to produce and sell these high-quality student bassoons as Heckel Crest.

In 2002, the company was awarded the German Musical Instrument Prize for the Heckel Crest.

Due to the increasing demand for the original Heckel bassoon, the 41i model, and due to the long delivery times, it was decided to cease the production of the Crest and concentrate exclusively on the production of the 41i.


The contrabassoon (double bassoon) is a woodwind instrument with double reed. The name contrabassoon goes back to the fact that it can produce notes that sound one octave lower than those of its namesake, the bassoon. Therefore, it is one of the deepest-sounding instruments in the orchestra. The tone of the contrabassoon ranges from A0 to C2.


The contrabassoon is considerably larger than the bassoon. The structure of both instruments is similar in some ways, however, the contrabassoon has a joint which is bent several times and laid side by side. In addition, all the instrument parts are firmly connected to each other by wooden or metal bows and cannot be disassembled into individual parts, like a traditional bassoon. Among other reasons, this is because the key mechanism is distributed over the entire instrument body of the contrabassoon.

Only the bell is removable. By changing the bell, the musician can choose between C1, B♭0 or A0 as the deepest tone. In addition, there are two variants of the A-bow in the contrabassoon. Indeed, the earlier model with an A-bow and bell protruded upwards allows a better sound emission, but obstructs the musician’s view of the conductor. Today, the standard construction is characterised by the fact that the bell with the attached B-bow is pulled far down and almost reaches to the right hand.

The S-bocal of the contrabassoon, which is slightly larger than the bassoon’s, is finally inserted into the big bocal with slide. This is the piece that connects the S-bocal and first joint. The double reed is then attached to the S-bocal, which usually consists of giant reed (Arundo donax), a reed grass.

Due to its size and weight, the contrabassoon is now only usually played while sitting. As with the bassoon, the sound is generated by the double reed. Here, the air blown into the double reed causes motion in the two reeds. As a result, the air column in the instrument, which is significantly longer in the contrabassoon than in the bassoon, begins to oscillate. Through the individual tone holes that are covered with the help of keys when playing, the length of the oscillating air column can be regulated and thus the pitch can be varied. The fingering of the contrabassoon corresponds to that of the bassoon.

The contrabassoon sounds one octave lower than the bassoon and has a dark, rich-sound and sustained tone. The tones increase in clearness and hardness. The contrabassoon is particularly suitable for serious and sombre passages because of these characteristics.


For a long time, the contrabassoon was regarded as the problem child of orchestral instruments. Thus, the history of this instrument is characterised by a variety of trials and errors, and new designs.

Already in 1619 the German composer and universal scholar Michael Praetorius expressed his idea of a modern contrabassoon and he made the first attempts to build a deeper sounding dulcian. Even then he tried to create this deeper sound by extending the joint.

Throughout the 19th century, the contrabassoon had fundamental faults. It was not only unwieldy and unbalanced in sound, but also had an inadequate key mechanism.

By the mid-1870s, contrabassoons were being constructed like regular bassoons, ranging in depth to C1. Due to their enormous size they were very unwieldy and towered above the other instruments in the orchestra. The main difficulty was reaching the tone holes distributed over the length of the joint. This was only possible with the help of a sophisticated key mechanism. In order to make the contrabassoon easier to handle, the joint began to be folded several times and laid next to each other.

Due to the multiple folding of the joint, it was possible to use the new contrabassoons while marching and therefore they became especially interesting for military music. So began a veritable race between different manufacturers to build the smallest possible contrabassoon in the hope of securing large orders from military bands.

The breakthrough came when Wilhelm Heckel, together with his workshop master Friedrich Stritter, built the smallest contrabassoon. This instrument was divided into three side-by-side joints, which exploited even the smallest niches. Thus, this contrabassoon was characterised by its low height and weight, which made it ideally suited for use in a marching band. Wilhelm Heckel patented this redesign in 1877.

Just as Johann Adam Heckel managed to do justice to the wishes and demands of the composer Richard Wagner with the bassoon, so did Wilhelm Heckel with the contrabassoon. Since Wagner was very interested in Heckel’s work, in 1879 Wilhelm also introduced him to his newly constructed contrabassoon. For the first time in the history of contrabassoon, this instrument met all the demands of the orchestra and moved Richard Wagner to the following statement:

“Mr. Heckel’s contrabassoon has been presented to me in a highly commendable manner and I believe this instrument, which I intend to use for my orchestration henceforth, because of its greatness of depth, has been a missing factor of orchestras everywhere.”

Richard Wagner, 26 October 1879, in Bayreuth

Use in Music

Due to its deep sound, the contrabassoon functions in the role of bass accompaniment. So it is found in Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion (1724 premiere) and Joseph Haydn’s Creation (1798) to amplify the use of bass. Rarely does a soloist’s use of a contrabassoon occur, such as in Erwin Schulhoff’s 1922 work Bassnachtigall, or in Ludwig van Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (first performed in 1824) and 9th Symphony (first performed in 1808). As a soloist, the contrabassoon is also often used for subdued or menacing passages. In Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Don Carlos (1867), for example, it is used in the performance of the Grand Inquisitor. It is also found, among others, in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal (1882). In modern orchestras, in contrast to the bassoon, the contrabassoon is usually used in simple sections and sometimes played by the second or third bassoonist.


The heckelphone is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which was first introduced in 1904 by Wilhelm Heckel. The instrument, which stands in C, has a range from A2 to G#5.


The heckelphone is of the oboe family with its pitch in baritone. It comprises three parts and has a strong conical bore. Particularly striking is the spherical bell at the foot of the instrument, which is also referred to as the love foot. It has three small side holes distributed around the rounding, from which the sound emerges.

The S-bocal is fixed to the upper part of the instrument, on which the double reed is inserted. The S-bocal of the heckelphone has the same bend as the English horn, but is slightly larger overall. The double reed consists of giant reed (Arundo donax), a reed grass. When playing the heckelphone the sound is generated by the double reed. Here, the air passes through the double reed and leaves the two reeds in motion. This causes a column of air to begin to vibrate within the instrument. Through the individual tone holes that are covered with the help of keys when playing, the length of the oscillating air column can be regulated and thus the pitch can be varied. The double reeds of the bassoon can also be used for the heckelphone provided as they have been adjusted with minor changes.

The heckelphone is one octave lower in tone than the oboe and has a powerful and lush-sonorous, yet sweet and lovely sound. The sound of the heckelphone is often described as giving the impression of hearing a human voice.


The development of the heckelphone goes back to the suggestion of the composer Richard Wagner when he was working on his piece Die Meistersinger in 1862 in Biebrich. Here, he first met Johann Adam Heckel, who introduced him to his workshop and instruments at that time. This was the foundation for a close working relationship between Wagner and Heckel. Richard Wagner was thrilled when Johann Adam’s son, Wilhelm Heckel, introduced him to his newly constructed bassoon and contrabassoon in Bayreuth in 1879. Nevertheless, he was missing a final component of the double reed instruments. He longed for an instrument that was one octave lower in tone than the oboe and at the same time had the soft and powerful sound of the alpenhorn. So Wilhelm Heckel and his sons set to work and developed the heckelphone in 1903. The instrument, whose premiere Richard Wagner did not live to experience, was first presented to the public in 1904 during a major tour of various music festivals.

Richard Strauss, who first visited Heckel’s workshop on 25 August 1900, also showed great interest in the heckelphone. In collaboration with Richard Strauss, two new versions of the heckelphone, the so- called piccolo heckelphone and the terz heckelphone were created.

Use in Music

The heckelphone immediately found favour with composers such as Richard Strauss, Max von Schilling and Engelbert Humperndinck. Among other things Strauss used the instrument for the main subject in his opera Salome in 1905 and Elektra in 1909. He was enthusiastic about Wilhelm Heckel’s invention and left the following thanks in the company’s guestbook:

“To the tireless inventor and improver Wilhelm Heckel with warm wishes for constant flourish and prosperity.”
– Guestbook entry of Richard Strauss at Heckel

Even with more modern composers, the heckelphone was popular. Thus, different works with a trio of instruments, including the heckelphone were seen. For example, Paul Hindemith composed a work for heckelphone, viola and piano in 1928. Even the contemporary composer Roland Vossebrecker wrote a piece for a trio, which in addition to the heckelphone used the oboe and piano.


Due to its uniqueness, the heckelphone has a very special status at Heckel. Therefore, in cooperation with enthusiastic heckelphonists and composers a music production with this instrument was created twice. In the mid-1990s a heckelphone CD was recorded for the first time with Wolfgang Schottstädt, who played works for heckelphone, among others by Paul Hindemith. A further CD was produced in collaboration with Matthias Bonitz to mark the 100th anniversary of the heckelphone, which was premiered at Biebrich Palace in 2004.

Piccolo Heckelphone

The piccolo heckelphone is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which was developed from the heckelphone. It was first developed by Heckel at the suggestion of the composer Richard Strauss. The piccolo heckelphone, with its powerful, oboe-like sound, should, above all, support the high-pitched instruments in the orchestra.


The piccolo heckelphone is very similar to the normal heckelphone, but is characterised by its significantly small size. In addition, it is made from one piece, with only the bell removable. Furthermore, it has a significantly wider, conical bore and significantly larger tone holes. The joint is similar to the oboe, but much smaller. The piccolo heckelphone is in F and has a tonal range of E4 to A6. An instrument that is very similar to the piccolo heckelphone is the Heckel musette. The instrument is in F and has a range from F4 to G6 and sounds slightly softer than the piccolo heckelphone. The last piccolo heckelphone produced was built in 1955.

Use in Music

A great enthusiast of the piccolo heckelphone was Richard Strauss, who used it in some of his works. He used it, among others, in the performance of the Second Brandenburg Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach in the last movement instead of the F-trumpet, which he considered insufficient. In the 20th century, the piccolo heckelphone was only produced until 1955. During this period, only 14 instruments were built, of which only eight were ever sold.

Terz Heckelphone

The terz heckelphone is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which is a modification of the heckelphone.


The bore of the terz heckelphone is very wide, so that a shawm-like sound is created. The instrument stands in high E♭ and reaches to a depth of D4. The production of the terz heckelphone was stopped suddenly and the instruments were rarely used. Richard Strauss, who was already enthusiastic about the piccolo heckelphone, used the terz heckelphone in the performance of the Second Brandenburg Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach.


The clarinet (French clarinette) is a woodwind instrument with a single-reed and is one of the youngest genus of this family of instruments.

The original name clarinett is a diminutive of clarin and denotes the quite high, non-metallic-sounding pitch of the trumpet. This name is due to the popular tone colour of the first clarinet with a very narrow bore.

It came into existence at the end of the 17th century from its inadequate predecessor, the Chalumeau. While the Chalumeau used a slot for the reed to produce sound, in the clarinet this was done with the help of the beak-shaped mouthpiece. The first clarinets had a narrow cylindrical bore, but after a short time, the diameter of the bore was expanded and the outlet funnel-shaped.

In the second half of the 18th century, a mid-sized clarinet, the basset horn, was widely used. This instrument was initially curved and covered with leather, and was characterised by a soft tone.

At Heckel, clarinets of various sizes were built until 1948, these ranged from double bass clarinets in B to very high piccolo clarinets in A♭. For decades, Heckel clarinets were made according to different key systems and constantly refined.


The heckelphone-clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a beak-shaped mouthpiece and single-reed, which was first built by Wilhelm Hermann Heckel in 1907.

It was developed to amplify the woodwind instruments of the baritone in the marching music at the time. The heckelphone-clarinet was to take over the third clarinet, which originally used an alto clarinet. However, since the tone of the narrow cylindrical drilled clarinet was insufficiently viable and unsupportive for marching music, the heckelphone-clarinet was initially changed to a non-typical conical bore. Its name comes from the fact that it was also the third clarinet in marching music.

The instrument is made entirely from wood and has a wide conical bore, so it can also be called a wooden saxophone. In addition, it also has a spherical bell, called love foot, as found in the heckelphone. The fingering of the instrument corresponds to the oboe, the English horn and the heckelphone.

The heckelphone-clarinet is in B and has the modulation capability and suppleness of the saxophone, without, however, possessing the resulting twang from a metal body. In addition, the sound is not as short and brassy as that of the saxophone, but is round and far-reaching. In addition, the tone colour, especially the depth, resembles the heckelphone combined with the strong and noble sound of the clarinet.

Heckelphone-clarinets were only built by Heckel until 1911.


The Tanaka-Clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a single-reed. It has 19 tone holes, arranged in a line and in chromatic order, normally closed by keys. It ranges from F3 to B4.

Use in music

When playing earlier orchestral instruments with tone holes and keys, it was always difficult for musicians to master the fingering with the ten available fingers. Especially, when playing difficult passages and trills it usually took a lot of practice. The development of the tanaka-clarinet was an attempt to solve this problem.

The invention is based on a conventional clarinet whose keys are connected to the keys of a keyboard. By pressing the keyboard the keys of the instrument can be opened and closed. This is done by using bellows to get compressed air into the bellows above the tone holes. These bellows, which are connected to the keys, are then inflated, thus opening the underlying tone holes.


The Heckel clarina is a woodwind instruments with a single-reed, which is in B♭ or E♭.

The clarina was developed by Wilhelm Heckel and his son Wihelm Hermann Heckel around 1889 and patented on 8 December 1889. In the summer of 1891 it was first used in a performance in Bayreuth.

The Heckel clarina is made entirely from metal and is very similar to the soprano saxophone due to the conical shape of its joint. The grip system of the Heckel clarina is identical to that of the oboe and the mouthpiece is similar to that of the saxophone.

A unique feature of the Heckel clarina is the triple sound. In the lower position it resembles the English horn, in the middle position the saxophone, and in the high position it resembles the clarinet.

The Heckel clarina did not prevail in music. In total, only 130 to 150 were sold until 1904.


The Heckel oboe is a woodwind instrument with a double reed and has its origin in Baroque music of the 17th century. It developed from the shawm, the treble or alto pommer, as well as the musette.

The name oboe comes from the word Hoboe. This is a phonetic paraphrase of the French term Le Hautbois, meaning high wood (instrument).


The instrument consists of three parts, the top piece, the centre piece, and the bell and has a conical bore. Since the Baroque period, the oboe has been steadily expanded and refined and has become an indispensable orchestral instrument. In addition to the classic oboe, a number of other variants were developed. These include, among others, the oboe d’Amore in A, and the alto oboe in F, from which the English horn developed.

Use in Music

Early in the 18th century the oboe began to be constructed in its present form. It consisted of a wooden joint and a sound bell. A double reed was used to generate the sound. The mouthpiece of the oboe was originally made from the same wood as the instrument, but later it was increasingly made from horn.

The Heckel oboe, Heckel oboe d’Amore and the Heckel English horn were made in two basic types, the Heckel bore or the conservatoire bore. They range in depth to B2, or even to B♭.

The last Heckel oboe was made in 1971. Among the oboe-like Heckel instruments are the heckelphone in C and the piccolo heckelphone in F.

Oboe d'Amore

The oboe d'amore is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which was developed around 1720.

Although in the mid 18th century a multitude of instrument families died out, the oboe d’amore is one of those that survived. It was usually only used in specific regions and genres. Thus, the oboe d’amore is found especially in northern Germany, mainly in Protestant church music and the Baroque opera.

The reason for the continued existence of this instrument was probably due to its lovely sweet sound.


The oboe d’amore has the same structure as the oboe, but is a few centimetres longer. A particular characteristic is the bell attached to the lower end of the instrument, the so-called love foot, which mainly affects the low tones.

The oboe d’amore is in A, and its range varies from G3 in depth to E6. The sound, which resembles an English horn, especially in depth, is soft and sweet. This gave it the name d’amore, which is also used for other instruments with similar sound.

Use in Music

The instrument has been widely used in works by Johann Sebastian Bach, especially in some of the solo parts of his early cantatas. After Bach’s death, the instrument fell into oblivion for the time being, but was rediscovered in the mid-19th century.

At the time, people were working more intensively on the works of Bach, but there were hardly any intact instruments on which to play the parts of the oboe d’amore. These parts were then mostly taken by the oboe or the English horn.


The flute is one of the oldest woodwind instruments whose origin dates back thousands of years. The first flutes were probably made of bone or reed.

The instruments were held straight down from the mouth and the upper part of the joint was used as a mouth hole.

A variety of different versions of the flute were built. Thus, stretched, curved or horn-like flutes were made, as well as lip flutes, where the mouth hole was attached to the side. During the Baroque period the initial small flutes gradually developed into larger flutes, which were then also used in orchestras.

Basically, there are two types of modern flutes. There are flutes with a conical bore and a cylindrical head, and flutes with a cylindrical bore and slightly conical head.

All flutes from Heckel were built in C as standard. The conical drilled flutes were characterised by a noble and vocal sound, as well as a sophisticated key mechanics, which facilitated the playing of trills. Heckel Böhm flutes, on the other hand, had a rather colder sound, but were characterised by their easy handling and responsiveness. In addition to the regular flute and Böhm flute, Heckel also produced piccolo flutes, terz flutes, Böhm piccolo flutes and the Heckel love flute.

The last Heckel flute was built in 1949.

Tristan Shawm

The Tristan shawm is a woodwind instrument with double reed, which was developed by Wilhelm Heckel.

The reason for the development of this instrument, like with the heckelphone, goes back to a suggestion by Richard Wagner. He had a very precise idea of the shepherd’s shawm sound, which appears in the third act of his opera Tristan and Isolde.

The sound of the Tristan shawm can be compared most closely to the wooden trumpet.

Heckel Saxophone

Saxophones are classed as woodwind instruments and have a single-reed. The first saxophone was developed in the mid-19th century. It consisted of an instrument body, an S-bocal and a mouthpiece with a reed.

With a range from B♭3 to F#6, the saxophone has the warm sound of the clarinet combined with the nasal sound of the oboe.

Heckel began producing sopranino, soprano, alto, melody, tenor and baritone saxophones around 1900. While the soprano, alto and baritone saxophones were in E♭, the soprano and tenor saxophones were in B♭. Only Heckel’s melody saxophones were in C.

Saxophones were manufactured by Heckel from 1889 to 1909.


S-Bocals are connecting pieces that connect the body of the instrument with the mouthpiece of woodwind musical instruments, such as the bassoon, contrabassoon or heckelphone.

The S-Bocal gets its name from its curved form, which closely resembles the letter S. The S-Bocal is attached to the wing joint and big bocal with slide of the instrument on the bassoon and contrabassoon and can be changed at will by the musician. In particular, the choice of the metal used and the type of alloy, the length and the diameter of an S-bocal have a significant influence on the sound and playability of an instrument.


A very unusual device developed by Wilhelm Heckel is the monophone. To this day, we do not know what the monophone looked like exactly, but we know from a plaque and notes by Heckel that it existed.

The monophone, which was as big as a footstool, was placed on the floor next to the conductor and operated by them. The device was used to tune the instruments in the orchestra. Here, a plate on the monophone was pressed down with the foot, whereby the pitch standard A sounded with 870 oscillations. The sound produced was strong, even and could be sustained as long as desired.

The tuning of the monophone was always the same and did not change after repeated use or under the influence of different temperatures. Thus, the monophone solved a fundamental problem that often occurred, especially with tuning forks.