I recently finished reading Wilhelm Heckel Six Generations Dedicated to Music. And as I noted in my YouTube Video- I had a slight challenge following a timeline of events.

The book follows innovations in relation to each family member. But many of the family members overlap in their work at the company. As I read the book I built a timeline of events to aid in my personal comprehension and synthesis of materials. I am sharing my timeline so that it may serve as an aide in your bassoon studies and personal enjoyment while you read the book. Cheers! Eryn

HECKEL COMPANY TIMELINE: Based on Edith Reiter’s

Wilhelm Heckel Six Generations Dedicated to Music 

Johann Adam Heckel (1812-77) and much older Carl Almenräder (1786-1843) meet while working for the music publisher Schott

1831: 19 year old Heckel and Almenräder open Musical instrument Factory in Biebrich, Germany

1838: Almenräder leaves the firm. No established reasons for leaving.

Heckel Factory will continue as a family tradition, passed down through inheritance, each family member working in the company

1845-50: European Sales Tours: increased sales to St. Petersburg

1847: Construction of “Contra-bassophone” or Contrabassoon

1852: Sale of bassoon to Louis Weissenborn, father of Julius Weissenborn

1856-67: Bassoons sent to Boosey & Son in England/Colonies for military bands. This ends in 1867 Boosey & Son develops their own bassoon

1862: Richard Wagner visits Heckel workshop and becomes family friend, later praises the “Contra-bassophone”

1877: Patented Construction of “Contra-bassophone”

  • 19 keys, no finger holes
  • 1 inch higher in length than a usual bassoon
  • Larger Bocal
  • Range of three octaves and a major third
  • Sound compared to a 16 foot pipe organ

Serial Numbers added to Bassoons: Serial Numbers Begin at 3000 to account for bassoons made Pre-1877

1880: No Longer called Almenräder Bassoon, referred to as Heckel Bassoon

Post 1889: Lined Wing Joint to avoid the consistent challenge of Decay

1900: Modernize Bell Ring

  • “Calophone-Ring” narrowed opening (more than our modern bassoon)
  • Meant to help the sound of B, E, and C-sharp

Richard Strauss visits the Heckel factory, pushes for Piccolo Heckelphone

1904: Bocals marked with either a Star or a Sun

  • Bocal Types C, CC and D
  • Added Bocal Button, closed by the E Key
  • Attempt at a Water Free Bocal. This was unsuccessful. It required a shortened wing joint, altering tuning and sound of bassoon.

1911: Heckel Serial Number 5000 sold to Dresden bassoonist Knochenhauer

  • Local debate over serial number, due to numbering beginning at 3000
  • Knochenhauer later given credit for Tuning Pipe used for Setting up Heckel Bassoons

WWI: Stop consecutive ordering of serial numbers to hide declining sales. This is still used today to mask actual instrument sales

War Recession: Heckel begins to copy of bombards and dulcians from Leipzig Museum

1920: Higher Tuning of bassoons, first bassoon sold tuned to A 440

1932: Heckel Bassoon with a Boehm System 

  • Changed the Sound, the Intonation, and Acoustic Radiation: NOT for the better
  • Visit this bassoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1939: LEGEND of the Stroboconn Tuner and the Conn 8R

  • Attempted trade of 2 Heckel Bassoons for the Stroboconn Tuner
  • Heckel denies the trade due to challenges of the wartime conditions
  • Begins the legend of the Conn 8R based on 8000 series Heckel Bassoons
  • *Not in the book but it is believed that Conn had 4 Heckel Bassoons that they modeled the Conn 8R after

1945: Recovery after war, retrieval of stored instruments in Taunus, USA contacts assist

1950’s: Secrecy in the workshop between instrument makers

  • Fearful of losing their jobs if other’s new their profession
  • Workers took all tools home as part of job protection
  • Creation of E Bocal for extreme High Notes

1995: Creation of XL Bocals for High Notes and R Bocals built without a brass casting, creating consistent wall thickness

Contrabassoon Advancements:

  • Bell facing upwards for acoustic resonance
  • Expanded to B or Sub Contra A
  • Lined wing joint, improving longevity

1996: Student Model “Opus” Bassoons

1997: Student Model Heckel “Opus” Bassoons changed named to Heckel Crest

Current Bassoon Innovations: 

  • Synthetic Lining of Wing joint and secrets pipes
  • Round Wings
  • Third Octave Keys
  • Shifted F-sharp Hole with a New Key Mechanism


  1. Hi, Erin!

    Thanks for the timeline! I bought the book when it first came 0ut, and managed to enjoy it despite my German being a bit rusty. Incidentally, I heard a restored Conn 8R at bassoon camp a few years ago–not a bad bassoon, but it was no Heckel 8K series (I have a friend who plays a Heckel 8K)!



    David Bell 2506 Crest Street Alexandria, VA 22302-2717 703.998.2903 (home) 703.732.3684 (mobile) bssn2@comcast.net



    1. I agree that the Conn 8R may be modeled after a Heckel but they are not the same. I believe this has a lot to do with the wood being different between the Heckel and the Conn 8R.


  2. Hi, thanks for the time line. There’s a typo: Without knowing the book I’m quite sure that instruments were hidden during WWII in Taunus (not Tannus). I is a less populated montain range north of Frankfurt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taunus). People from larger towns (Mainz, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt) went there to escape bombings.


  3. Hi,

    I have #8626 Conn Heckel Bassoon Instrument With Mouthpiece & Hard Case. It is excellent. I could not find SN # 8626 but only #8625 online. Is #8626 as same as #8625? I need a manual book for that.

    How much is it worth?

    In case where can I find a music store for cleaning and testing #8626 ?

    Let me know.



    1. Hi Francis,

      I wish I could answer your question. I would need more information and photos of the instrument to best be of service. Could you send me an email please or reach out through my CONTACT page on my website. Kind Regards- Eryn


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