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 Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-02-15 08:36

I have been playing the clarinet for some years and am a newcomer to oboe. For those of you who know about clarinet, possibly the worst tone on the clarinet is the throat Bb. It is stuffy, airy and weak. The main reason is that the tone hole has to act as both a register hole (which requires it to be smaller) and the Bb tone-hole. To ameliorate the situation, the cork covering the tone-hole could be sanded into a cone shape so as to reduce air turbulence at the exit of the tone-hole.

Now back to oboe. For me, I find the half-hole C# to be quite stuffy and airy. Even some annoying buzzing sound. It could be improved with a better reed, but still not satisfactory. Then it struck me one day that the problem could be due to air turbulence at the half-hole, similar to the situation in clarinet. The air has to exit a small opening from the pad, and then the shape is suddenly a straight cylinder. I then experimented by covering a piece of tape on top of the half-hole key, using the tip of the ball point pen to stuff the tape inside the hole (so the shape formed by the tape is a cone instead of a cylinder), and punch the middle of the tape to let the air escape. The idea is to allow the air to exit through a smooth passage. It's hard to describe in words but I hope you understand. The result is a much improved C#, less stuffy and definitely no more buzzing sound. And it does not compromise other notes using half-hole. I am planning to use some more permanent material to replace the tape.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-15 14:36

What fingering are you using for this C#?

Chris.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-02-15 17:09

Like the low C# with half hole. The basic fingering

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-16 14:03

Is it clearer if you lift LH finger 1 off completely for the C#?

If it is, then adjust the top plate so it's screwed almost fully closed (but still moves by a very tiny amount) and lift off LH finger 1 instead of rolling down on all notes involving the half hole.

So play upper register C#, D and Eb and the lower altissimo notes by lifting LH1 off instead of rolling down.

Chris.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-02-19 11:13

Chris, I have tried your fingering before. It's clearer, but it's a bit sharp and requires adjustment to embouchure to make it in tune. It also requires a bit of getting used to. Just a bit curious why there seems to be so little discussion about this note. Is it my own problem or is it something every player has to deal with?

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: jhoyla 
Date:   2018-02-19 12:25

It varies from instrument to instrument. There is a tiny vertical diamond slit in the bottom of the half-hole well. The shape, size and height of this slit affects the C# more than any other note.

I have exactly the problem you describe on my Loree, but you will find that the more you lower the key, the more in tune the raised-finger C# will sound.

My previous repair guy was able to improve C# on my Loree using a tiny diamond-shaped probe or file he got from the manufacturer, but it is still worse than my strasser.

On the Strasser, a repair guy (in 1980, or thereabouts) removed the diamond with a drill thinking it was a manufacturing error. I fitted a tiny sliver of cork inside the donut-shaped cork under the key, and all of a sudden it worked wonderfully - but I don't reccommend you try this at home.

J.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2018-02-20 00:06

jhoyla wrote:

> On the Strasser, a repair guy (in 1980, or thereabouts) removed
> the diamond with a drill thinking it was a manufacturing error.

This is just horrifying. It is a miracle you were able to resolve it the way you did!

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-20 03:39

I often see the aperture in the LH1 fingerplate waxed in so it's level with the surface and a round hole of around 1mm put through it. Use beeswax as that's easy to adjust and alter as well as remove if it doesn't work. Use a heated needle spring to adjust the diameter of the aperture as that won't harm the diamond as a twist drill can.

Chris.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-02-20 10:45

Jhoyla, its comforting to know it's not unique to me. Mine is a fully automatic SML Marigaux. The opening is also a vertical slit (not so much a diamond shape).

Given my experience with the tape, I think I would try the suggestion of Chris by using beeswax. Thanks all for the wonderful suggestion!

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: jhoyla 
Date:   2018-02-20 15:20

Yes the guy was an experienced instrument technician, but who specialized in Clarinet and Flute.

It turned out he had no idea about oboe :-(

I was pretty young at the time and just thought my reeds were playing up - I had no idea why C# was sounding so bad. It was years later when I realized that the hole should really be only a slit, and so I experimented with cork under the pad until it worked.

I'm almost certain that is what the professionals do with the diamond - fiddle with their little probe, increasing its size and shape and smoothing the edges until it sound right. Much more of an art than a science.

J.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-03-01 06:17

I couldn't get my hands on beeswax as suggested by Chris, so instead I use candle wax to fill the half hole and made a 1mm hole with a hot pin. The result is quite satisfactory, and it helps me to speak the altissimo notes more easily. Thanks all for the wonderful suggestion!

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-01 12:37

As it's a fully automatic (Marigaux 910), is the LH1 fingerplate linked to and lowered by the bridge from LH3 to the 8ve mechanism, or is it completely independent with the adjusting screw making contact with a disc of cork on the body?

With the top plate linked to the bridge, closing LH3 will lower the top plate down but shouldn't close it completely and you set the closure with the adjusting screw. You can use the open C# with all fingers off with this set-up.

If the top plate is completely independent, then set it to how you prefer - either fully open if you roll LH1 down to half-hole (and use the open C# with all fingers off), or closed down but not completely if you lift LH1 off instead of rolling down.

Chris.

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-03-01 19:14

Hi Chris, the LH1 is linked to LH3 to the 8ve. The present setup allows for a quite satisfactory result, but I would try the open C# (much like the flute fingering) as suggested by you

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 Re: Stuffy half-hole C#
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-01 22:22

It's not the best note as it lacks tone quality (brighter than the C natural), but it can be used as a B-C# trill or A-C# tremolo fingering.

Chris.

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