Date: 2012-11-27 20:30
If you're a professional musician, you're going to hear right away the difference between an intermediate and professional instrument. Even though I'm just an advanced amateur, even hearing an intermediate instrument almost grates my ear nowadays. Rather than listen to someone's technique, I just go, "ohhh, that is sooo not a good oboe!" So, once you switch, there is no going back. I think I played for about 2 years before getting my oboe. Wasn't necessary at that point, but I knew I would be approaching the time soon where having an inferior instrument could hamper my progress. So I went for it.
Keywork feel can be VERY different. And if you have small hands, the ergonomics can make a big difference. I noticed that my Marigaux has a longer left F key than what I see in pictures, so it must have been made that way/adjusted and I am very thankful for that. Definitely something I will have to have when I get my next oboe. My instrument is way lighter than a Howarth, which is what most people that I know play on. Sound is quite different, too.
The issue with EH is finding places to play it. I've been making an effort to play it as much as I can, by using it in my normal practice routine, and to occasionally practice my oboe rep with. Also, I've cannabalized some of the sax and trombone parts in my orchestra and transposed them for EH. Otherwise, I really don't have a use for it. I have to make opportunities to play it.... Also, before splurging on an EH, make sure you really want to play it first. I know some people that hate it, some people love it.
So, if I had a choice, I'd go for a pro oboe first. The advantage of playing the oboe is that you do tend to get offered a lot of gigs because there are so few of us out there. A lot of people have nice oboes here as well.... I don't know why. I mean in my community orchestra, both me and the other oboist have pro oboes and EH's. Too much cash to burn? Try out the potential instruments first, though. I didn't because I live in the middle of the oboe desert, but if you have the chance to try before you buy, certainly do that.