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 Instrument Shrinkage
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-09 00:24

A friend gave me his mom's old oboe, a wooden Selmer full-conservatory model. He said she got it new when she was in high school (late 70s/early 80s) and that it had been kept in a closet from then until he gave it to me in 2010-ish. The location it was kept was Texas, crazy humidity swings, but air conditioning most of the time.

Anyway, when I started playing the oboe I thought I was just really bad at tuning; some notes I could barely get up to A=440, and others were just 20 cents flat no matter what I did. I had my reed-making friend make me some extremely sharp reeds, and that helped me play in tune. (Btw, when I played on other horns at the school I was teaching at--Foxes, Buffets, other Selmers, the tuning was fine.) She suggested that my bore had shrunk.

Is there a way to fix this? I've heard of boring instruments out, but I've also heard horror stories about an instrument being ruined by the boring process.

From a cost perspective, if I can bore it out and have a lovely, in-tune instrument, that would be better than going and spending a ton of money on something new. I could buy used, but then you go through the whole process of finding out its quirks, which may or may not be worse than the quirks of my own instrument.

So there's the conundrum. Any advice? Also, if it helps, the two worst notes on the instrument are top-line F (any fingering) and space C. Very very flat even with sharp reeds.

Thanks!

Edit-for spelling

-----------------------
Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: c. 1965 Buffet R13;
A: 1963 Buffet R13

https://gentrymusic.wordpress.com




Post Edited (2017-03-09 00:29)

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-03-09 00:37

I don't know so much about oboes, and their bore diameter is smaller than a clarinet's, so I guess bore shrinkage is a possibility, but I have a hard time believing it would explain a pitch problem as bad as you're describing. I think I'd look for a simpler, more straightforward explanation first - from a qualified repair tech. Could be dirt somewhere crucial - oboe tone holes are smaller than a clarinet's and a little dirt in a hole or two or up in the receiver tube for the reed might explain some of the flatness.

In any case, reaming out the whole bore is not a guaranteed process and the oboe might still not play well.

Karl

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2017-03-09 00:52

Have you had the bore oiled? If the wood is dry this will cause the wood to expand quite a bit. Regardless, you should oil wood instrument at least once or twice a year. You can do this yourself with a swab and some almond oil.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2017-03-09 01:46

It might be worth considering oil immersion.

http://www.naylors-woodwind-repair.com/oil-immersion-processing-of-deteriorated-grenadilla-instruments

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-09 02:02

I wonder how expensive that is. ^^

I might try oiling the bore (although all my teachers have been dead-set against that...) just to see if that makes a difference. Oiling once per day till it doesn't soak up any more.

-----------------------
Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: c. 1965 Buffet R13;
A: 1963 Buffet R13

https://gentrymusic.wordpress.com




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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2017-03-09 02:13

Just remember to wipe off any excess oil before playing as it will make the instrument harder to play.

I find it strange that anyone would be against oiling instruments. I've saved plenty of "Blown Out" instruments with a good oiling.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-09 04:14

There's a big thread a few threads down about it. (Oiling vs. not oiling).

-----------------------
Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: c. 1965 Buffet R13;
A: 1963 Buffet R13

https://gentrymusic.wordpress.com




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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-03-09 05:40

jdbassplayer wrote:

> I find it strange that anyone would be against oiling
> instruments. I've saved plenty of "Blown Out" instruments with
> a good oiling.

A "blown out" instrument or one that's badly desiccated because it has been stored unused in poor conditions over a period of years may very well need to be oiled. The debate isn't whether or not bore oil can help restore those instruments, but rather whether or not an instrument in regular use and not obviously dried-out-looking needs to be oiled on a regular basis with votes for regular oiling suggesting anything from once a year to every couple of weeks.

It isn't that anyone is "against oiling instruments" in any case. It's that people debate whether or not it's needed - whether it's indeed important for the instrument's continued good health. I think it has been said here and many times in the other (still active) thread that you may do whatever you want to do. Just don't make it into an inviolable imperative ignoring which will lead eventually to the ruination of your valuable clarinet.

Karl

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-03-09 05:45

To the OP, I would only slightly amplify my earlier advice to have a qualified, knowledgeable repair tech look at it **before** you go off trying to make this an exercise in DIY guesswork. If the bore has changed and the change is drastic enough (and I haven't said that it's an impossible explanation) to cause the problems you're having with the oboe, the tech will be able to verify it by actually measuring it. Then you'll know what the problem is that you're trying to remedy.

Karl

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: RKing 
Date:   2017-03-09 17:16

If the inner bore is shrinking, wouldn't that actually cause the instrument to play sharp? Smaller bore, same length equals higher pitch, doesn't it?

Could it be that the wood has dried out such that the air stream is no longer vibrating correctly and the basic acoustics have simply flattened out?

Sorry to ask such basic questions, but I would try to restore the wood to its original state (oil or water) and I would have the instrument checked out mechanically (pads, tones holes, etc.). Doing something drastic (boring) is something that I cannot undo and that would be my last choice.



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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2017-03-09 18:22

RKing wrote:

> If the inner bore is shrinking, wouldn't that actually cause
> the instrument to play sharp? Smaller bore, same length equals
> higher pitch, doesn't it?
>

No. Flat. Hence the string down the bore to approximate an A clarinet trick.

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-03-09 21:08

Is it a Selmer USA or Selmer Paris oboe?

Wooden Selmer USA oboes are made from kiln dried granadilla and they usually end up warped so the joints and bore are banana-shaped. You can check this by looking down the bore from the narrow ends.

Selmer Paris oboes are some of the worst oboes when it comes to tuning - very hit and moss. Some aren't even in tune with themselves so no single scale is even.

Both are based on a Loree design (bore and tonehole layout - not sure which model Loree, maybe the C series), so any oboe specialist with reamers made to Loree specs should be able to check how far off the mark they are, but that won't be advisable on an instrument with a severely warped bore.

Chris.

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-03-10 08:39

Instrument shrinkage? I think Seinfeld had an episode about it.

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 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-11 04:41

Chris P, it only says "Selmer" on the bell. I do not know if it is USA or Paris. It sounds like I might be out of luck though either way!

-----------------------
Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: c. 1965 Buffet R13;
A: 1963 Buffet R13

https://gentrymusic.wordpress.com




Reply To Message
 
 Re: Instrument Shrinkage
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-14 04:08

I figured it out. It's a Selmer USA.

I looked down the bore and could not see any warping, but I am not exactly an expert on being able to tell, for what it's worth. I'll just keep ordering super sharp reeds and do my best with it!

-----------------------
Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: c. 1965 Buffet R13;
A: 1963 Buffet R13

https://gentrymusic.wordpress.com




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