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On the subject of Heckelphones

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Heckel still makes them. Off the top of my head, they were patented in the 19-teens or thereabouts, so there shouldn't be any patent concerns, so anyone could make one. However, I don't know anyone that's tried. I think they're beautiful looking instruments.

What to call the instrument is one thing, its use is something different. It was designed as a large oboe that descends to the low A the bottom space of the bass clef. Most orchestrators have called the Bass Oboe and the Heckelphone interchangeable, but I have not found this to be the case. The Heckelphone is a powerful instrument capable of great projection due to the cross-section of its bore which is twice the diameter of the Oboe and not twice the area like Bass Oboe. This makes a huge difference. The Heckelphone is more of a soloist while the Bass Oboe is more of a team player. For most works, I prefer the Bass Oboe.
Source.

For what it's worth, I can sort-of agree with the idea that instrument a can have different characteristics than instrument b, even if a and b are supposed to be in the same family. As an example, the Bb tenor sax and C melody tenor sax are only a couple notes off, but you can make the C melody sound much more "reedy" than the Bb tenor. Note the word "can." I've heard some people play different pitches of saxophone and it just sounds like they're playing one big horn with no difference in tone characteristics. That's not "wrong," it's just not what I like to hear.

If the above quote is correct, that goes a long way to explain why the Heckelphone isn't as much in demand. Check this post. A nice-looking one made in 2003 was being sold for $22K in 2015 -- and it was the only Heckelphone made in 2003. A brand new one was $48K. That's an awful lot of cash for a horn you're not going to use that often. Lorée bass oboes start at $12K and go up to $15K. I see that a Lupophon was $16K in 2009. That's about $19K, adjusted for inflation. (All of the prices are in American Freedom Units! I mean, US $.)

In other words, Heckel might have priced themselves out of the market.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Also a beautiful instrument. I've seen a couple examples with longer bells. Custom keywork for a bit lower range, I'd assume.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
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