Amati, worth a second look?

Amati Contra Bassoon Howarth of London

Say the word ‘Amati’ in Bassoon circles and you’ll usually conjure up images of battered old instruments, with a variety of different maker’s marks that have sat for decades, in a cupboard, unloved and unplayable without serious money being spent on it. The sheer number of these instruments in existence means that their relative value is low and it’s not worth spending anything on them.

That is not to say that an Amati bassoon in good order is not a worthy student bassoon. They are, and as with any well-made brand of bassoon, if maintained they should have a long and useful life.

Although, for reasons mentioned above, it is rare to see an Amati bassoon on our second-hand lists, Howarth has been using modern Amati instruments in our rental scheme for many years. Many long-term customers began their bassoon adventures on an Amati bassoon or progressed onto one when they outgrew their mini bassoon or tenoroon.

For several years, Howarth has been working with Amati to have their instruments built to our specification. Using our own bore dimensions, we have been very pleased with the improved quality of sound and intonation that we achieved with these bassoons. Combined with the variety of key work options Amati produce, the Amati bassoon has been a versatile instrument for us.

Of particular benefit has been the ABN 32c Children’s bassoon (to low C) now produced under the Vantage title. This instrument feels and plays like a normal bassoon but removes the section of tube for bottom B and Bb improving the weight and size of the instrument for a younger player. Despite the reduced bore length, the Vantage still has the same tone and character as its full-size equivalent, and although the bottom two semi tones are omitted, the instrument happily flies up to a top D with little effort, offering range exceeding what most players will need from this bassoon.

The next stage is the ABN33, a full size but completely adapted short reach bassoon. Unlike most short reach instruments, Amati have covered the left hand second finger and right hand first finger. This is in addition to the more conventional third finger left hand and thumb key extensions. With this bassoon, a player whom can cope with the size and weight of a full-size bassoon, but not the finger stretches can move up onto a regular sized instrument with a full chromatic range.

The ABN 31 offers a more conventional short reach set up but is otherwise identical to the ABN 33 and has long been a core part of our rental pool.

The 800 Heritage has replaced the ABN41 and is an ideal student bassoon and indeed is our normal rental bassoon. This instrument has all the key work you need to comfortably play the standard range of the instrument and produces an excellent sound. This instrument meets the requirements of many student and amateur bassoonists.

Amati’s Contra bassoons are by far the most popular instrument we sell from the Amati stable. Popular with amateurs and young professionals alike, the 801 (previously ABN 36) has given many people the chance to own a contra when they had thought it was but a dream! The 801 has plenty of character and compared to other instruments in this price range (old and second hand), is easy to play and has a very stable scale. For the occasional contra player, this instrument is very straight forward to get to grips with and if played regularly by an experienced player it is able to hold its own against more expensive instruments.

Amati are now part of the UK based Geneva group and since their acquisition, there has been much effort to further improve the quality and playability of their bassoons. As well as improvements in the instrument design, we are receiving instruments set up in the UK by Dave Walker, Geneva’s Head of technical Design. We are receiving instruments that are correctly set up and consistent. Dave is also keen to develop the brand and we have seen Dave’s new prototype bassoon in the shop, with a lot of radical (for bassoonists!) changes in design that really makes it a talking point.

In our opinion, Amati are now comparable to instruments produced by Adler and Schreiber. With the demand for these brands as high as ever, we are experiencing longer delivery times from these makers. At Howarth we want to give you the choice and support to select the right bassoon for you. Amati instruments are now a serious addition for students and amateur players looking for an instrument.

Amati Bassoons and Contra Bassoons are available to buy direct from Howarth of London. Please see for current availability and prices

Amati’s Vantage, ABN31, ABN33 and 800 Heritage are available on our long-term rental scheme at £50 / month each *

The 801 Heritage Contra is available to hire at £150 / week on our short-term rental scheme *

Please see  

*All rentals subject to availability

About Howarth of London

Woodwind Specialists - Howarth are leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones and flutes. Makers of fine oboes, cors anglais & oboes d'amore.
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