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 plastic vs wood top joint
Author: Phil Freihofner 
Date:   2017-02-02 03:04

I also posted this question on the forum, but I hear there is little overlap (people tend to prefer one or the other) so I'm posting this again.

Have you tried the Loree plastic top joint? If so, how does it compare to the wood? Similar tone? Response? Would you feel comfortable using it for a professional gig?


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 Re: plastic vs wood top joint
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-02-02 03:45

If it's a pro level oboe, then it should be fine for any professional player playing a professional concert.

The most significant difference is the plastic joints will need more end play between the key barrels and pillars relative to their lengths to ensure the keys won't bind up when the plastic pulls in when cold, so some may complain about poor key fitting when it's been made like that on purpose for reliability's sake.

Howarth, Loree, Marigaux, Hiniker and several others make entirely plastic pro level oboes, ones with plastic top joints as well as all wood but with sleeved top joints that are played by pros, so one with a synthetic top joint is something less of a worry to the owner if the playing conditions are far from ideal.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: plastic vs wood top joint
Author: veggiemusician 
Date:   2017-02-02 20:05

I have both and dont prefer one over the other. Its really the density of materal that maters. If you like a dense heavy close grain wood oboe then you will love plastic. Plastic sometimes can be a little colder sounding if spliting hairs.

If you live in dry or ac envioment then plastic is best...

Jerome Broun
Principal Oboe UAE NSO Symphony Orchestra

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 Re: plastic vs wood top joint
Author: heckelmaniac 
Date:   2017-02-05 23:21

In my estimation, some acoustical difference may exist between different
types of polymer used to make oboes.
Cast Acrylic seems to me to be the best acoustically, followed by extruded
Acrylic. Injection molded Acrylic is my least favorite.
Loree has used several different polymers over the years.
My favorite Loree polymer acoustically is the marbled ("swirly") gray-white material Loree used in the 1970s. Loree has also used a gray-ish polymer and jet-black polymer.
Polymer or hard rubber sleeves seem to have no effect on the tone of an oboe that I can discern. I have an old professional model Malerne oboe lying about made completely out of hard rubber, and it has a rather pleasant sound.
With all Dalbergia species of wood (including African Blackwood) being placed on the CITES list as of January 1, 2017, I surmise we will see much more in the way of synthetic materials being used for oboe making...


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 Re: plastic vs wood top joint
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-02-06 18:24

The problem with PVC is it will develop a white powdery bloom on the surface due to the effects of light, but that can be removed through polishing once all the keys and pillars are removed. UV treated PVC should prevent that bloom. Other plastics used are delrin - only the weakest part of any oboe is the middle tenon, so plastic oboes are far more at risk of broken middle tenons compared to wooden oboes - best course of action is to leave the sockets unlined (as you don't need metal lined sockets on plastic instruments) and make the tenons considerably wider as a result to add more strength to them.

Plastic oboes are more costly to the maker due to both the higher cost of the plastic and the difficulties it poses during manufacture - wood will machine and leave dust, whereas plastics often need lower cutting speeds to reduce heat build-up which will cause the joint to bow between centres and they need constant supervision to ensure the swarf which comes off in a single strand doesn't wrap itself around the joint during turning which can end up melting the joint if it gets caught up with the tool post or cutter. Pillar threads are much easier to strip when fitting pillars and cutting the bedplaces and toneholes has to be done at slower speeds to prevent melting or distortion.

After all that, a plastic oboe will need play between key barrels and pillars as already mentioned, but on the whole they will be far more efficient due to plastic having no pores or vessels in the material that can cause small leaks on wooden oboes which will need sealing once discovered or the joint discarded if the flaws are significant. Plastic in that respect has less waste as the plastic rods should all be uniform.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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