Contrabassoon Restoration


  • Jacob Starker


The Bassoon Studio in the School of Music at Tech uses a contrabassoon as a significant part of its curriculum. Not all universities in Tennessee own a contrabassoon and the fact that Tennessee Tech owns and studies on this instrument gives the students at Tech a decided advantage over their peers from other institutions. Tennessee Tech's contrabassoon was built in 1965 and, over time, had fallen into disrepair and suffered an unfortunate fall. Consequently, the condition of the instrument did not allow students to use it to its (or their) fullest potential. We are fortunate that a world-renowned bassoon technician lives 40 minutes away in Alexandria, Tennessee. This individual offered to teach me, and my professor, the skills needed to restore the instrument to its best possible condition. A list of supplies/tools was compiled and a URECA grant application was submitted and awarded. The grant award covered the entire cost of the materials needed, and the work was completed over a 23-day period during the summer of 2021. Techniques involved included completely stripping/disassembling the instrument, repairing broken pieces, sealing the wood, reassembling, and replacing and sealing pads so that the instrument was airtight. Afterwards, the instrument was extensively tested and tuned. The project was very successful and the instrument was featured in a performance with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra in a Fall 2021 concert by the student that performed the restoration.