I am allergic to nickel. I come up in itchy bumps after contact. I would like to try playing bassoon but all the ones I have looked at have nickel silver keys, which isn't silver at all but is nickel. Does anyone make bassoons with a different metal for the keys?

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    Are you allergic to actual silver, because you can get silver-plated keys.
    – Aaron
    Jan 6, 2022 at 1:09
  • Thanks, that might work, as I use a silver plated mouthpiece for brass. Do you know which brands do that? How long does the plate take to wear through? I imagine they can't be replated the way a mouthpiece can.
    – Hazel
    Jan 6, 2022 at 8:19
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    "I imagine they can't be replated the way a mouthpiece can": I suspect that removing, restoring, and replacing the keys of a bassoon is a standard maintenance service. Surely pad replacement must be common. Replating is likely to be far less common, but it ought to be possible. You might also consider baroque bassoon, which has fewer keys that are typically made of brass.
    – phoog
    Jan 6, 2022 at 9:03
  • What is your price range? As you can imagine, silver is unlikely to be used in student-level axes, expensive though those may be Jan 6, 2022 at 14:21
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    @phoog Silver plated keys are sometimes replated when the instrument is dismantled for maintenance. It's quite expensive, so it's not done very often.
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 6, 2022 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


Could you use clear nail varnish so your skin doesn't touch metal? This is common practice for brass players who would otherwise have an adverse reaction to their mouthpiece.

I also did a web search for bassoons and some of the non-student models do feature silver-plated keys. Looks like only the cheaper (no such thing as a cheap bassoon!) models feature nickel-silver keywork without plating.


Starting from middle price level, the mechanics of a bassoon is silver-plated. Two issues I know for sure:

  • for a general maintainance (for non-professional use required maybe all 8 years) all metal is removed from the instrument to receive a new silver-plating
  • to judge from the amount of darkening which can be removed with a silver-polishing cloth I would assume there is still silver present then, but the keys do not darken due to frequent contact with the fingers anyway.

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