Bocal Markings Revealed

Often, the confusing array of letters and number Heckel uses on their bocals seem inscrutable.

In an effort to reveal what these markings mean, we’ve compiled information from numerous Heckel charts detailing the original specifications of their world renowned bocals and translated it to English.

The numbers and letters are stamped on the bocal either near the makers name on the central area, and/or at the butt, just above the cork on the inner side. Sometimes, a too long cork will obscure the mark.


The almost foolproof way to determine if your bocal is “Pre-War” is by examining the makers mark. If it is imprinted with a slightly spiral twist, it is not Pre-War. If it appears to be straight in a line and runs along the bocal without twisting, it is most likely a Pre-War bocal. You are welcome to send us photos for a second opinion.

The Heckel factory was apparently destroyed during WWII. The bocals they produced before that war are prized for their rarity. The ones produced after have maintained the high quality for which Heckel is known.

Internal dimensions and tip openings.

  • CC: average thickness and tip opening, good upper and lower range response.
  • C: like the CC but slightly thinner metal for enhanced overall response.
  • B: narrower bore than the CC with enhanced upper note responsiveness.
  • BB: similar to B with a smaller tip opening for enhanced upper and high note response.

Modifiers for the letters listed above. (ie. CCV or BBE will describe two aspects of the same bocal).

  • D: slighter thinner metal to aid in low note response.
  • E: an even smaller tip opening for enhanced focus of tone.
  • V: special curvature for exceptional high note response.
  • XL: the newest style of curvature for added high note response.

The length measured from tip to butt along the spine. These are representations of relative length.

  • 00: the shortest length which raises the overall pitch the most.
  • 0: raises the pitch less then the 00.
  • 1: a popular bocal for average A=440 and slightly higher overall pitch.
  • 2: standard with new Heckel bassoons for A=440 pitch.
  • 3: slightly longer bocal which creates slight flattening of the pitch.
  • 4: the longest bocal which creates the most flattening of the pitch.

The alloy or type of metal plating the body. Heckel bocals are generally made of a brass alloy with plating.

  • S: sterling silver 935 which offers slightly brighter tone quality.
  • N: softer German silver which enhances a warm tone, needs little care and remains quite shiny.
  • Z: harder German silver which also helps create a warm tone and is more durable than N.
  • G: gold, described by Heckel as having a “medium-hard” sound. We think of it as focused and dense.
  • If it looks like gold but has no “G” marking, it’s probably unplated brass, which some love.

Well, that’s what we’ve been able to determine. If you have additions or corrections, we would love to know. Please email us.