How To Choosing Your First Oboe
Choosing your first oboe can be a minefield. There are so many choices of the instrument out there.
So follow my oboe tips and you will not make a costly mistake.
Where should you begin?
Oboes varying price made from either wood or plastic.
Beginner Oboes designed as a temporary, basic oboe. They are typically very simplified, stripped-down oboes, usually without the complicated key work of more expensive models.
Their costs range from $1,000-$1,500 new (£700-£1300), and $300-500 (£400-£900) as a used instrument.
Buying a used Oboe is also an option. Here you have to be very careful that the oboe is in good working order. Many times the oboe is not in playing shape or is “barely” playable. There is nothing like a badly adjusted or leaking oboe to dampen a beginner’s enthusiasm for the instrument since all problems will be blamed on the player rather than the instrument.
Your best bet when buying a used oboe is to buy from a reputable shop that has its own repair shop. Then you can be sure that the instrument will have been set up and tested before you purchase and of course, if you have any problems you can bring it right back again. Intermediate Oboes Intermediate oboes designed for the serious student and developing player.
They are often what we would call modified conservatory, which is to say that they have all the essential key work. Costs range from $2,500-$4,000 (£2000) new and $1,800-$3,000 (£1000) recently used.
These oboes may be plastic or wood. They will usually serve the oboist very well until they need a professional instrument.
Professional Oboes These oboes are made of wood and made with silver key work usually.
Sometimes you get variations in the wood (rosewood for instance) and you may even get gold key work on some! Current prices for these oboes range from $5,000-$7,000 (£3000-£6000) for a standard granadilla wood oboe with silver-plated keys.
What are the Different Fingering Systems?
What does “conservatory “system mean? It sounds complicated but actually, it just means that the key work of the oboe based on a standard set of fingerings.
So a Simplified Conservatory System is usually found on beginner oboes, which lack certain keys. A Modified Full Conservatory System is usually missing a few of the extra keys found on professional oboes but has all the essential keys. Full Conservatory System actually can mean any number of keys but should mean that all the necessary keys are there.
What differs is that each manufacturer may include different variations of keys depending on their own oboe designs. Wood versus Plastic Like many woodwind instruments oboes manufactured in wood and plastic. Obviously, plastic instruments are cheaper but they have come a long way over the years and should not be seen as a poor-man’s alternative to the wooden oboe.
Here is a list of the pros and cons of wood and plastic: Wood Pros – sound quality Cons –requires more care. Must play before it will sound its best .can/will crack. Sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.
Only lasts for about 6-8 years after which it will be past its best.
Plastic Pros is not crack. Longer life. No playing-in necessary. Better withstand harsher playing environments. (If you are going to playing in a band outside then plastic is really the only option!). reacts less to moisture and temperature changes Cons – The sound of a plastic oboe is not as endearing as a wooden oboe.
What you need in a reed is unique and depends upon you, your personality and the way you play. There is no “best” or “right” reed for everyone, no matter who you are. There are a few qualities that MUST be present in a reed, no matter who’s it is or where you get it.
A good, functioning reed of any kind RESPONDS and is STABLE. Which means it behaves in a flexible way and does not change all the time!
Reeds cost from $15 (£15) each. Which is why students soon start to make their own?
Moisture left in the oboe after playing will cause pads to deteriorate. So swab the inside of the oboe after playing and use a cloth to wipe off moisture and finger marks.
Blow moisture out of the reed (by blowing down the reed from the wrong end) and put it in a reed case so that it can dry out. If the pads are sticky, place a clean cloth (or dollar bill) under the pad, close the key, and pull the cloth through.