"I have owned many fine bassoons over the course of my career, always searching for that magic combination of complex sound, balanced sonority, a great scale and highly flexible response. My latest Bell bassoon truly meets these standards. The superb workmanship is obvious at first glance, with beautifully executed keywork, its glass smooth bore and a varnish that brings out the depth of its richly flamed maple. It takes only a few moments of playing to realize the intelligence of Ben Bell's acoustical design. This bassoon has remarkably even response. The octave ratios allow me to relax and resonate in the upper half with great ease. There are no weak notes. It has the most workable intonation of any bassoon I've played. All my colleagues have remarked on how rich and engaging the sound is, and I am constantly thankful for the nuance control that the bassoon allows me. Ordering a bassoon from Benson Bell opens a deep and lasting dialogue between performer and instrument maker. He works with his clients to address every preference and, above all, to voice each instrument to its owners musical needs. At this point, I would choose a Bell over any other maker in the world."
Christopher Millard NAC Orchestra Faculty, Northwestern University Bienen School of Music
"Bell bassoons are by far my favorite modern bassoon. Benson Bell has all the pieces of the puzzle: he admires and works with the best bassoons and bassoonists. He is a fine bassoonist himself with an incredible ear. He has an inventive and brilliant engineering mind balanced by a respect for the best traditions, is brutally honest with himself and his results, and is utterly obsessed about getting it right. Now, with years of experience, the results are instruments that have no equal. My Bell bassoon is best summed up as a "musical" horn, with a long list of attributes. Its sound is full, velvety, and even. The scale is excellent and stable. Most importantly: it is musically flexible. It has a big easy dynamic range. I feel I can taper easily, and join notes together in a wonderful creamy way. The articulation in the tenor register is fantastic - perky, clear, clean and fast. Even the low register is musical, in tune, and easy. (Who's heard of a beautiful low B that you can taper in tune?) I feel a wonderful freedom playing the instrument, the connection between my ear and the result is direct and satisfying. It is also beautiful to look at. With such wonderful craftsmanship, sometimes I feel it is musical just sitting in the stand! It is a true joy to play and to own. Thanks, Ben!"
Richard Ranti Boston Symphony Orchestra
"I am very happy playing my Bell bassoon. I find in it all the characteristics I need to play in the Lyon Opera Orchestra: great center in the sound, flexibility, homogeneity in all the registers and a beautiful legato and smoothness of tone. I always prefer a bassoon that sounds like a good cello and this instrument helps me to achieve what I am looking for. Thank you Ben!"
Carlo Colombo Lyon Opera Orchestra
"It's easy to say great things about my Bell bassoon: it started out a fine instrument and has bloomed over the 12 years that I have had it. When Brian Pollard, former principal bassoonist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, first played my bassoon he exclaimed, 'Wow, you can really make music on this instrument!' The sound is dark yet clear. There are no crazy notes that are problematic when playing with other instruments. It's easy to play phrases in tune without going through contortions or compromise tone color to pitch the notes where I want them. It's stable but not narrow and restrictive in pitch and sound. I won't put down other makers of instruments that I've owned, as each instrument is unique and one may search and search to find a great one. But with practically every Bell Bassoon I've played (and I've played quite a few), I've felt it was an instrument I could really make music on and be myself with. They never confine me or made me work harder for the music than I have to. But they can always take all that I demand of them. My repairman loves working on them: they're so well made. He doesn't have to fix things that the manufacturer should have corrected before the instrument was sent out.
"It's impossible to talk about Bell Bassoons without talking about Bell. Ben simply knows more about the bassoon than anyone I've ever met. He is a masterful toolmaker and an artist with wood. He understands the bore better than anyone I know. He has a great ear. He's a player. "How many other makers can you say that about?"
Ken Munday Principal bassoon with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
"I have played bassoons from Ben Bell exclusively for some years, and have found them to be easily the best instruments available, period. I am fortunate to have gotten one of the very first instruments (number 004, in fact) along with a more recent one, and I've spent the better part of my career playing one or the other of these excellent bassoons. They have served me well on literally hundreds of motion picture scores, in addition to innumerable symphonic and chamber music performances and recordings, and I can't imagine how much more difficult all this playing would have been had I been playing on anything else. I believe Ben Bell's work is in a class by itself."
Michael O'Donovan (Studio Musician, Los Angeles)
I have been playing my Bell bassoon exclusively since the day I got it seven years ago - it is a joy! There was no "break-in" or adjustment period necessary, and I comfortable and confident enough to play a concerto on the new horn after only 10 weeks. I immediately added my name to the waiting list for another, and I'm about to receive my new Bell! The tone is remarkably even throughout, and the scale is so good that it eliminates much of the work with which most of us have become so familiar necessary to play in tune in the lowest register. It has good projection and is flexible enough to integrate any and all subtleties that the player brings to the music. The key work is superb and I've had basically no maintenance issues. Benson is a first-rate craftsman and brings a huge amount of knowledge and instinct to his work. I really don't miss the automatic sonic personality that comes with the quirky nature of many Heckels. It's refreshing to have an instrument that can go in whatever direction you choose. The Bell bassoon inspires me to sing. The gentleman's model without the extra metal band is as practical as it is unusual. I couldn't be more pleased.
Steven Dibner Associate* Principal Bassoonist San Francisco Symphony
My Bell bassoon, besides being beautiful, has a very warm and exquisite tone, an easy answer and a very easy high register. I got the instrument on a Tuesday afternoon, took it out of the case, played it for a half hour and that evening played the whole Babier de Seville opera with minimum adjustments (my other bassoon is a Heckel #13000). As an orchestral player, I am really concerned with the quality of soft attacks without compromising the general forte dynamics, and the Bell bassoon I own matches these requirements. It is a pleasure to play that instrument.
Richard Gagnon Principal Bassoon, Orchestre symphonique de Quebec