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 beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: lauraja 
Date:   2021-06-04 20:54


I am an adult beginner, switching to (or adding) oboe to my musical life after having other instrumental music playing and singing experience.

(Heretically perhaps) my first trial was with a mass-market $309 (Muslady) Chinese-made oboe. Shockingly (some might say) it played and sounded well. I had two complaints: 1, there was a sharp flat wire sticking out from some of the keys of the middle joint. Although it didn't *seem* to affect playability, and could be tucked under the stem the keys are attached to, I wasn't 100% sure it wasn't supposed to be connected to something (and broken). Also, 2, I realized it would be advisable for me to try a short-reach oboe if I can. (I am petite with proportionally very short fingers, and don't want to court a lasting hand injury at my age). So this oboe went back.

I next tried a Howarth Junior+, which was NOT for me. I could tell it was well made with respect to intonation and smoothness of switching between notes, but the kind of plastic it was made of made it sound like an inexpensive clarinet to me, and the keywork was way too limited (more so than I had expected from some of the descriptions I had read).

I have been eyeing a used Loree-Cabart Petites Mains, but it is pricey and of uncertain condition; there is some question as to whether I should make this big an investment yet, depending on alternatives. So -

Enter something called Rochix SH15. Now, this is getting complicated. Although not described as such, it seems to be smaller-scale and lighter like the Howarth JP was, but with more complete keywork (and I think, better tone {I sent the Howarth back and can't compare them side-to-side}). But it has a couple of other issues: 1, it seems like it might be just a little prone to gurgling; 2, there is a serious issue trying to play either common G (2nd from the bottom line of the staff or sitting at the top of the staff), where the first three fingers of the left hand (and no right-hand fingers) are held down. I don't think it is just me only because it is both Gs, and because I didn't encounter a similar issue on the other oboes.

This Rochix oboe could be a miracle for me at just under $400 and with its slightly smaller scale, if there is hope for it.

I ordered it from an online retailer with "free shipping and free returns", and have put in for it to be replaced with the same model/another individual instrument.

What could be causing this issue unique to the G with the first 3 left-hand fingers down? (I am not having trouble with any other notes, including A, or any of the notes using fingerings on both hands.)

I wonder if there is a design flaw, or if the replacement oboe will cure it.

Thanks for any insights or advice!


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 Re: beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2021-06-29 02:20

For an oboe to cost under $1,000 new is the first red flag for me. I have not found one that didn't have serious flaws in pitch, response, tone, scale, or adjustability.

The other thing that's strange is that the Rochix seems to be made of redwood, which likely gives it a very soft and non-projecting tone...rendering it almost useless for playing in an orchestra or band because of lack of projection.

I believe that these "short-reach" instruments are designed for elementary schoolers who will play buzzy honky reeds and eventually grow into a real instrument. As a result, the instrument's tone and scale are not as important as the compromise for reach.

Bay Area, California

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 Re: beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2021-06-30 02:38

I was surprised to see you mention redwood, so I had to go look up the product online. That doesn't look like what Americans think of as redwood, and, as you suggest, there is no way you could make an oboe out of Sequoia sempervirens. I suspect that it's a translation problem, and the oboe may be made of padauk or redheart. My experience with Mandarin is such that I suspect padauk, redheart, and other species are all just commonly called "red wood."


Middle-Aged Amateur

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 Re: beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-06-30 18:28

"Redwood" is a vague term for any wood that has a red look to it and could be anything from any type of rosewood, mopane or mahogany or any other tropical hardwood that's red in colour. There are plenty of Chinese clarinets and piccolos being made from this 'redwood' as well - fortunately I haven't had to deal with any of them so far, but will definitely publish my findings in due course once one happens to darken my workbench.

As for "rendering it almost useless for playing in an orchestra or band because of lack of projection", well that depends on the type of wood and the instrument itself as there have been many great oboes (and cors and d'amores) made from rosewoods which may be less dense than grenadilla, but have plenty of projection and are regularly used in orchestras and bands. I have no problem with my kingwood oboe being played in a band or orchestral setting unless the brass players have no sense of volume control.

The biggest problem with brand new wooden instruments of dubious quality is how well the wood has been seasoned and how well it's been machined and finished. I can't say I have any faith in anything like this.


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 Re: beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2021-08-26 06:08

Your price range is going to prevent your getting a really decent instrument. I have a Rigoutat purely because it is easier to reach for me than a Loree, plus it happens to be a good one. Laubin also is good for smaller hands but for most is financially out of reach.
I don't mean to be discouraging, but I cannot play bassoon because I simply cannot reach it. You might be happier on an instrument that is ergonomically better suited to you.

Reply To Message
 Re: beginner oboe trials (and question)
Author: Saint Louis1 
Date:   2021-11-18 13:38

Another great oboe for beginners and advancing students is the Tiery J10. ... and other features that can take you far into your oboe studies.


Post Edited (2021-11-19 10:27)

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