With its commanding appearance and powerful sound, the bassoon definitely stands out in any orchestra. As a bassoonist, you're a sort of big brother to the clarinet in the woodwind section, working together to contribute much of the rich aspect of the orchestra's sound. That same richness is what you bring anywhere else you may play as well, whether it's solo or with a smaller ensembleâ€”or even as a unique addition to a pop band. Like many other classical instruments, the modern bassoon emerged from refinements made to the design in the 19th century. The most popular style in today's bands and orchestras is the German system, which is widely represented in our selection. This type of bassoon is often referred to as the Heckel system, named after Johann Adam Heckel, one of Germany's foremost early bassoon makers who made changes to the instrument to turn it into what you play today. The de facto standard for bassoon construction is maple wood, which you'll find in most of the professional instruments. Maple bassoons will give you a rich, colorful tone as well as a traditional look and feel. If you are a beginner, the best choice for you may be a student model with a body made from ABS, polypropylene or a similar composite. These materials help to keep the weight of the bassoon manageable so that it's easier for you to handle as a learner, and their durability makes them well-suited to handle the frequent use and transportation that they'll experience if the bassoon's player is in a high school or college orchestra or band. The bassoon is also a heavily personalized instrument, with a lot of variation between players. For the most part, this comes down to the double reed, with many bassoonists choosing to make their own. Even if you're not ready for that just yet, your new bassoon won't come with a reed so don't forget to pick one up if you're a new player, and let your instructor teach you how to adjust the reed to make it your own. Since the bassoon is a heavy instrument, you'll generally always have it hanging while you play, so another good idea is to pick out a seat strap or shoulder sling to support it. If you're a beginner, once you've chosen your bassoon, reed, and strap, you'll have what you need to get started with this distinctive woodwind instrument. If you're an experienced bassoon player, you're well aware of your tastes and, to satisfy them, the professional models from Fox, Schreiber and J. Puchner are well worth your consideration.