AFTER you talk to your child's private teacher about it.
When there are no quality school instruments or rentals available.
When your child is practicing most days of the week and is self-motivated to improve for more than 6 months. Your child must also be careful and responsible enough to protect an expensive item.
When your child is already achieving musical honors (District Honor Band, MidFest, etc.) on his/her rented instrument.
AFTER you read all of the information on this page.
For students in grades 6-12, I recommend the Fox 330 (or better). Fox oboes have good intonation, easy response, and are well-built. All models of Fox oboes have the Low B-flat and Left-F key, which are the two keys needed by high-school oboists for auditions and school band music.
Fox Models (ranked cheapest to most expensive)
333 - plastic, has every key needed to play through high school and in community bands as an adult.
330 - (335 wood version), plastic, moving from low B to low C# is slightly easier, low B-flat has a vent key to help its intonation. This is a good oboe for a student who is making District Honorband/All-State. It is a fine instrument for playing in adult community bands and orchestras.
300 - full-conservatory system (has the "split D ring" so 1 particular trill is more in tune), plastic
450 - Same as 300, but has a plastic top joint (to prevent cracking) with a wooden lower half. I took this one to All-State in high school.
400 - Same as 300, but made of all wood
Plastic vs. Wood: An oboe's tone has far more to do with the maker/brand than whether it is wood or plastic. Wooden oboes can have slightly most resonant tone, but when comparing plastic and wooden Fox oboes, the difference is almost undetectable. Fox uses a heavy-weight resin that produces a beautiful wood-like sound. Wooden oboes are at risk for cracking, but this can be prevented with special care. I do not recommend buying a wooden oboe in the fall for this reason - oboes need to be "broken in" and get acclimated to being played before winter comes. Always warm up the outside of the top joint before blowing into a wooden oboe, make sure the bore is oiled once every 6 months, and use a case humidifier.
Be cautious of "big box" makers who also make other instruments (ask me in your lesson and I will tell you which ones) - many of these oboes can have severe intonation problems, thin/weak tone, and can be frustrating to play. If you see an oboe priced less than $1500, there is a good reason, and it will cost more in the long-run to either keep it repaired or replace it. Learning the oboe is frustrating enough without having problems from the instrument itself. Never buy an oboe without a good return policy or trial period, and always talk to your private teacher first.
College music majors: Purchase a wooden, full-conservatory oboe. There are lots of makers to choose from, so come talk to me (or even better, your soon-to-be oboe professor) when you are considering a professional instrument. I have a Loree "AK bore" oboe, a Loree "Royal oboe", and a Fox English Horn.
If you are looking to purchase a bassoon that will be good through the end of high school and into college/adult music groups, I recommend the Fox 220 or 240. If you have more to spend, look at the upper Fox models and bassoons by Heckel, Moosmann, and Puchner.
For a quick comparison of common student models (ranked cheapest to most expensive new):
Fox 222 - sugar maple, plateau key for LH 3rd finger, high D key is optional, rollers on pinky keys, alternate B-flat key, synthetic ivory bell ("German" style bell), comes with 2 standard "C" bocals. No RH whisper key lock
Moosmann M22 - German maple, plateau key for LH 3rd finger, high D and E keys, rollers on pinky keys, RH whisper key lock, French bell (has silver ring), comes with 2 "Excellent series" bocals. No alternative B-flat
Fox 220 - black maple, open hole for LH 3rd finger, high D and E keys, RH whisper key lock, alternate B-flat key, additional rollers on "pancake" key, French bell, comes with 2 CVX professional bocals
Moosmann M24 -German maple, open hole for LH 3rd finger, high D and E keys, RH whisper key lock, alternate B-flat key, French bell, additional rollers on "pancake" key, comes with 2 "Excellent series" bocals
Fox 240 - exactly the same as the 220, but a "short bore" design. This allows for greater flexibility in pitch and projection (good for solo playing).
Convenient bassoon features include the high D and E keys, a whisper key lock, and rollers. The Fox 51 model is designed to fit smaller hands. Click here to read about bassoon key options.
Where to Look Online for Used Bassoons: Midwest Musical Imports, Forrests Music, Charles Music, Aria Double Reeds, Miller Marketing, RDG Woodwinds
Bassoon Bocals Just as important as the instrument, the bocal greatly affects a bassoonist's tone. Fox "C" bocals are always a solid choice, and the Fox "CVX" model is especially good for high notes. If you are able to spend a little more, I recommend getting a Heckel or Puchner bocal. All bocals will come in a variety of lengths - #2 is standard. The larger the number, the lower the pitch.