Low reed stand showdown: K&M vs. Hercules

January 24, 2017

I’ve had a König & Meyer bassoon/bass clarinet stand for years now, and recently picked up the Hercules version and tried it out on some gigs. I was hoping to form a strong opinion and make a nice clear recommendation here between the two. But the bottom line is that both are really quite usable.

left: Hercules; right: K&M

The exact model of K&M stand that I have doesn’t seem to be in production anymore. There is a newer one with a black finish (nice for onstage use) and slightly different hardware. I would be interested to hear if anyone is aware of any significant difference between the older and newer models.

The big question of course is stability. I spent some time knocking both of these around to see what it would take to tip them over, and based on that non-scientific approach they seemed about equal. (No instruments were harmed.)

I don’t have any concerns about either stand scratching my instruments. The K&M has a rubbery cup for the bottom of the instrument to sit in, and a felt-covered brace at the top. The Hercules has a harder (but not hard) plastic cup and a foam-covered brace.

The K&M’s large, soft, and somewhat grippy cup is a nice feature for quick instrument switches. The Hercules’s I wouldn’t trust quite as much—I would need an extra moment to be sure the instrument is secure. The Hercules has room to add a couple of additional instrument pegs, which is a nice feature for doublers.

Note also that the Hercules’s cup can be rotated 180° from the way I have it oriented, if desired. It is mounted on a leg that is adjustable, which I suppose you could use to change the angle of the instrument on the stand. I like it at full extension for maximum stability at the base.

For quick switches, I like to be able to play bass clarinet with its peg still in the stand if needed. Both stands accommodate this without any trouble.

Upper braces on both stands are height-adjustable to about the same height. At around full extension the braces are out of the way of keys on the bassoon’s long joint (the bell key is on the side where the braces don’t touch it). Neither quite adjusts as high as I would like for a low C bass clarinet (with the peg extended a little), so unfortunately for me the left index A and A-flat keys rest against the brace.

Both stands fold up, but neither is tiny. The Hercules is more portable if you remove the cup, but that means fussing with a wing nut and then having one extra piece to carry around (or lose).

The Hercules does win on price, at about 60% of what the K&M costs.

Overall, I guess I lean toward the Hercules a little for bass clarinet, mostly because I could add, say, pegs for B-flat and E-flat clarinets and be ready for a utility clarinet gig. And I like the K&M slightly better for bassoon because its larger, softer cup makes a better target during a quick instrument switch. If you’re still torn, the Hercules’s lower price point may be a good tiebreaker.

Comments

  1. David A. Wells

    I’ve had one of the Hercules stands (used for bassoon) for about five years, but it’s spent the last two only being used in my home practice space. This is because the ‘upright’ pole will no longer stay completely upright. It leans over at a slightly scary angle, and I fear that with a serious bump, it might fold all the way flat (in the wrong direction. Now it rests permanently against a a wall, where it can’t fail. A few of my students have also had these Hercules stands fail on them, either in a manner similar to mine or having the cup break off of its mount. I haven’t actually owned one of the K&M stands, but I’ve used a couple owned by schools, and they were rock solid after many years of probably taking more abuse than I ever dish out. The Hercules is certainly less expensive, but I think the K&M is a better investment in the long term.

    Reply

    • Bret Pimentel (Your host)

      Fair point—I’ve used my K&M for years, but haven’t had the Hercules long enough to judge its longevity.

      Reply

  2. Ronnal Ford

    Hey Bret, I’ve found the Hercules (At least with my low C bass) to be more stable and not rest on any keys if I put the bell in the cup and not the peg. It moves far less and it essentially had a groove there for it. Does that change anything for you too?
    For bassoon, I tend to have it at it’s minimum height also.

    Reply

    • Bret Pimentel (Your host)

      That’s a possibility as long as I don’t extend the peg too far (if I do, the leg of the stand interferes). But it also makes quick switches to/from bass clarinet more complicated, because I either have to take the instrument out of the stand to play it or count on having a chair exactly the right height to play it in the stand.

      Reply

      • Ronnal Ford

        Is it sad that I bring an adjustable cushion with me to bring the chair to the height that I need it? (I’m REALLY close to just having a chair in my car for that reason too…)

  3. David Erato

    I’ve used the Hercules for years and love it. Mostly for teaching, so I can set the horn up and have it available when I have a bassoon student. I do take it to and from the music store and home regularly, and transporting it has been the worst, especially when carrying other instruments. I don’t know if Hercules now includes a bag (as they do with many other stands) but I found a really nice bag at Forrests Music. It seems very durable, and made my life a lot easier.

    http://www.forrestsmusic.com/bassoon_stands.htm

    Reply

  4. Ed

    My favorite bass stand is the Blayman. While it is not as portable as the others, it is rock solid.

    Reply

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