by Judith Kahn
Daniel Deitch is an accomplished baroque musician and an expert in repairing and
restoring a diverse array of woodwind instruments, from piccolos to contrabassoons,
with the exception of saxophones.
Up until 2010, he also built woodwind instruments but due to several ailments, including
tennis elbow and arthritis, he had to stop. In the past, he created 12 to 15 baroque flutes
per year using digital calipers to match the measurements of classic 18th century flutes.
He is well versed in the restoration of historical woodwinds, having restored
200-year-old flutes, clarinets and bassoons over the years.
Today, Deitch spends 80 percent of his time repairing and restoring flutes, clarinets,
bassoons and oboes.
Deitch’s passion since childhood has been all kinds of music, from folk to classical,
including chamber music, jazz and rock symphonic. He grew up in Los Angeles in the
’60s and moved to the Bay Area in 1970. Throughout life, Deitch says music
has been his nourishment.
Deitch’s parents were ex-beatniks who played music constantly, everything from
Beethoven quartets to John Coltrane to Henry Purcell to the Rolling Stones. Deitch says
there was always music going on in his head, mostly woodwind instruments.
He plays bassoon, baroque bassoon, four kinds of saxophones, various clarinets,
flageolet, recorder and oboe da caccia, as well as cello, viola da gamba, guitar
and English Horn.
Deitch started playing baroque bassoon around the age of 35. He has been playing the
modern bassoon, modern flute and baritone saxophone semi-professionally from
around the age of 21. But, flutes are his passion, which is “essential for the soul.”
He was an apprentice with the late Erwin Burger, a Swiss émigré who operated the
Woodwind and Brass Workshop on 10th Street. Since the early ’90s, Deitch has been
performing with various baroque orchestras in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto, as
well as in Portland, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Montreal and abroad.
Some of Deitch’s favorite composers are Bach, Marin Marais, for his French baroque
harmonies, and Francois Couperin, for his French high baroque music.
Deitch has been the owner of the Woodwind Workshop, located at 2607 Clement St., since
1994. It is a tiny space, about 300 square feet, in which he has a collection of wood- and
metal-working tools and vintage instruments, like a chestnut-colored bassoon that he
reproduced from a 17th century original.
Known for his craftsmanship and precision, Deitch has spent more than 20 years as a
builder of historic woodwinds. He has flutes from around 1760, one from 1783 and a
couple from around 1810. He has an original bassoon from between 1790 and 1810. The
instruments have come to him in various ways, including the bassoon, which was
found by one of his clients in an antique store.
He repairs and restores clarinets and bassoons for the SF Symphony and
SF Opera orchestras.
“They frequently have special needs. They need everything to work perfectly, and they
deserve for everything to work perfectly,” Deitch said.
His other customers include music teachers, middle-school beginners and retirees
learning how to play an instrument for the first time. He takes joy in teaching others
about the musical instruments.
“Music is really important to me, and when I can help somebody along the path to
having that same joy that I get from music – having their instrument working right,
working better than they thought it could – that’s a real joy,” Deitch said.
Comments about the woodwind repair man are a testament to his woodworking skills.
“Daniel is the best in the Bay Area, which is why he is always so busy and hard to make
an appointment with when the symphony begins,” one said. Another client said: “He
took the time to explain what would be done, possible trouble spots, and answered all
Many musicians who play woodwind instruments, as well as lovers of baroque music in
the Bay Area, feel fortunate to have Deitch’s services available to them. Deitch runs the
Clement Street business and workshop with his wife, Yukari Naito-Deitch, who oversees
the business end: ordering parts, scheduling appointments, paying taxes and health
“I am not a businessman,” Deitch says. “She has turned it around so we are actually
making a little bit of money.”
Deitch also has help from his landlords, which have kept his office rent affordable over
Deitch said he looks forward to many more years ahead continuing his passion for
repairing woodwind instruments and playing baroque music.
Because the Woodwind Workshop is small and Deitch is in high demand, customers must
schedule an appointment. The telephone number is (415) 221-2735 and the shop is open
Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, go to the website