Thank you, readers, for your thoughtful responses to my 4 nagging questions! Some of you responded by commenting right here on bassoon blog, and some emailed me. I've compiled your answers here:
1. Do you dry out your swabs after swabbing?
This response really rang true to me:
"No, I don't bother drying out my swabs. I tend to think that keeping the bore "dry" doesn't necessarily mean bone-dry. I think the important thing is that there isn't moisture that has pooled, beaded up, or otherwise collected." The reason that makes so much sense to me is because many bassoonists take steps to humidify the insides of their bassoon cases. If we wanted the bassoon to be bone dry, why would we humidify it??
Most respondents said that they used silk pull-through swabs, and not one bassoonist said that he/she dries the swab after use. One bassoonist said he uses cotton as opposed to silk. And while we're on the subject of swabs, my latest youtube search turned up Terry Ewell's instructions on how to make your own swab:
2. Who is your repairman (or who have you heard positive comments about)?Listed in random order: James Keyes, Chad Taylor, Neil Allen (UK), Benson Bell, Jim Laslie, Paul Nordby, Bruce McCall, Fox Factory, Keith Bowen, John Friedman, Tony Milone, Paul Covey, Holden MacAleer, John Yeh, Carl Sawicki, Chuck Huebner
3. Which left thumb keys do you use for high C4 and above?
I agree wholeheartedly with this response:
"I think that the flexibility of being able to use multiple fingerings is a part of the mastery of the instrument. That applies to a number of notes on the horn!" This bassoonist said in his email that he chooses the fingering based upon the reed. Ultimately, that's what I do also- I choose the fingering based upon the reed and the passage in question, even though when I practice scales I tend to use one set of fingerings. In my case that means using the high D key for C4 and higher.
C key for C4
D key for C4
C + D keys for C4
D key for C#4
C + D keys for C#4
D key for D and above
4. What type of seat strap do you use?
Hook (by far the most common!)
A strap with a buckle which attaches to a key ring
Dutch leg support
(Note from Betsy: I use an adjustable cup seat strap, which never interferes with the functioning of the G or Aflat keys which one bassoonist mentioned concern about. Older bassoons with smaller boots might have that problem with cup seat straps.)
Several respondents commented that it is highly unlikely that the hook will in any way damage the instrument by applying too much pressure, even though that was a rumor I have heard. I agree. Thank you all!