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 Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-05-22 23:20

Yesterday I had an early '90s Renard/Fox 330 oboe come in for some minor work as it was long overdue a service with several keys being sluggish as a result. The owner had also taken it to another repairer before I was recommended, but that repairer had nothing particularly good to say about it.

Yes the 330 isn't a wooden oboe and isn't a full Gillet conservatoire model as it lacks the LH3 split D#-E trill mechanism (making it the same spec as a Howarth S40c/S45c, Cabart 74, Rigoutat Riec, etc.), but just because it's plastic, that doesn't mean it's a bad instrument.

I also bought an older 330 for myself with the view of adding a thumbplate to make it dual system and a low Bb bell vent to bring low Bb up to pitch, but think I'll leave that as it's always good to have a spare conservatoire system oboe as a loaner instrument should a conservatoire system player need one to borrow whilst theirs is being worked on as there a few conservatoire system players in the area when most are either thumbplate or dual system players.

And for me I chose the 330 as a spare for the fact it's made by a company that makes oboes which means features seen on their pro models will have filtered down to their student models for continuity, they have all stainless steel screws and springs so nothing is going to rust and the plastic body will mean they're not likely to crack when subjected to unfavourable playing conditions (making sure the keys don't bind up when cold is important with plastic instruments. Teflon tipped adjusting screws, although noisy, do mean they're more likely to remain in adjustment for a long time as there aren't as many key corks under adjusting screws that can compress, swell, get chewed through or drop off.

There are some aspects of finishing that could be bettered - both these 330s still have their original pads and key corks from new (although I replaced all the key corks and a couple of pads on mine), but they could use more durable silencing materials on several of the linkages than natural cork and while it's not a major issue, some of the small diameter top joint toneholes could do with wider crowned bedplaces, unless they've since addressed that on more recent instruments.

As for how they play and sound, I have no problems with that side of things as there's nothing I could fault, besides the flat low Bb which is common on instruments without a low Bb vent, but it does everything anyone would expect a decent oboe to do. The keywork is very sturdy, not easy to bend or flex and feels very positive under the fingers. The only thing that does flex is the plastic body as plastic doesn't have the same tensile strength as wood and this is true with any plastic oboe, but that's not something that should be seen as a negative thing - only as a characteristic of the material.

Had it been a cheapo Chinese plastic oboe - the type seen on eBay and elsewhere carrying whatever name anyone wants laser etched or printed onto it and with no real heritage nor quality, then there'd be genuine reason to slag it off as those oboe-shaped things are built like crap.

I think it's an educated choice of an instrument for anyone moving around where the climate can be at either extreme, even in a single large country like the US where the owner of this oboe was originally from and the reason why they specifically chose this model oboe.

There are good and bad oboes and these ones are definitely in the good category. I put it down to the previous repairer's lack of knowledge for them to trash it in the manner they did. And here in the UK, Fox/Renard oboes aren't all that well known compared to the US (Fox/Renard bassoons and contras are much better known here), but unfamiliarity doesn't mean bad.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

Post Edited (2021-05-22 23:45)

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 Topics Author  Date
 Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?  new
Chris P 2021-05-22 23:20 
 Re: Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?  new
Hotboy 2021-05-24 20:18 
 Re: Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?  new
Chris P 2021-05-24 22:45 
 Re: Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?  new
Chris P 2023-04-03 14:07 
 Re: Renard/Fox 330 Oboes - Rate Or Slate?  new
Hotboy 2023-07-18 03:35 

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