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 Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: CMW 
Date:   2021-03-23 05:17

I currently play on a Buffet Greenline, but I feel a need to upgrade. The Greenline feels kind of "one-dimensional" and is really holding me back. I'm looking for something with great sound/feel AND great durability. I love the sound and feel of wood horns, and have owned several very good ones (a pre-Loree Cabart, a Fox, two Lorees) but they've all been retired. They're just not built for the long haul.
So now I'm getting ready to purchase my next oboe, and hopefully it will be a "forever oboe". I have a generous budget, so I am considering a high-end Howarth, a synthetic top Loree or maybe a 800 level Yamaha. I have questions about these instruments and I'm hoping someone on this board can answer them.

1. How do oboes with lined upper joints react to temperature changes? If they are exposed to a large enough temperature change, could the liner possibly separate from the wood? Could gaps just develop over time?
2. Are lined oboes immune to blow-out?
3. Why are the Howarth models only partially lined? What is the advantage of a partial liner and how is that maintained (periodic oiling, etc.)?
4. Howarth synthetic top joints are available in Delrin and Ebonite. What is the difference between the two, and which material comprises the "Jazz" models?
5. What differences have any of you noted regarding the performance of lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes?

I appreciate any insight regarding the above.



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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-03-24 22:53

1. Would you knowingly subject your oboe to massive and sudden temperature changes?
2. Do wooden oboes 'blow out'?
3. The partial liner protects the most vulnerable section of the bore where cracks occur and the unlined section will still require oiling.
4. Delrin is a lower density material compared to ebonite, so you'll have to see which one you prefer - ebonite contains sulphur which can tarnish silver plate. The 'Jazz' models are made from marbled ebonite.
5. I've felt cors anglais with all wood or partially lined top joints do have more tonal depth compared to those with all plastic top joints, but you'd have to do direct comparisons to notice the difference.


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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: CMW 
Date:   2021-03-25 05:44

Of course I would never knowingly subject an oboe to "massive and sudden temperature changes". That was not at all what I was suggesting! My concern was more related to unexpected changes in household temperatures.

For instance, when my furnace failed in the middle of a hard freeze, I wasn't worried about my pipes cracking. I was worried about my Loree. And when we lost power for a week after a tropical storm in mid-August, I wasn't worried about the walls buckling. I was worried about my Loree.

Normally you could expect an oboe to survive something like that, especially if it is allowed to recover on its own without the additional stress of being played on. A quality wooden oboe (with consistent humidification) should be capable of small degrees of swelling and contracting without lingering damage.

But what about a lined oboe? How can the wooden portion of the oboe withstand those kinds of changes if it is already fixed to a more rigid material??


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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: tgenns 
Date:   2021-03-25 06:07

Hi Christine,

Concerning the liner separating from the wood, that is not something that is likely to happen. There is a lot of info on the web about oboes and I have not once seen anything referring to this as a concern or an issue. In general, you are making a trade off when going for a synthetic liner of any kind -- you are getting a more "durable" oboe, but the sound will not be quite as good as wood. That being said, the difference is very little, so it is certainly a trade off worth considering. Your best bet is to jump into the waters and order some oboes on trial and compare. Then you can make an informed decision.


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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-03-26 00:04

Plastic is less stable than wood when it comes to temperature changes when wood is less stable than plastics when subjected to humidity changes. Then there's metal which is the most stable substance out of them all. Mixed together it can be a recipe for disaster unless it's been done with understanding and factoring in the different properties so they will work together.

I've never seen any lined oboes come adrift compared to flutes with metal lined headjoints or bassoons where the ebonite tenor joint bore lining has separated as the much higher density wood oboes are made from (grenadilla, cocobolo, kingwood and rosewood) are of a much thicker walled compared to flute headjoints which split because of the metal lining or bassoons where maple is a much lower density and porous wood compared to rosewoods.

The only oboes with lined joints that are compromised are the Schreiber/Buffet student models where they also line the lower joint which is completely unnecessary and that only leaves a thin shell of wood at the socket which can break off as resin doesn't have the same structural integrity as wood.

On oboes cracks usually happen at the top half of the top joint, so protecting that area from the inside will significantly reduce the risk of that happening. Also with the partial liner, the top joint is still mostly wood and the bore sleeve is around 9mm in diameter (compared to around 19mm to 22mm diameter where the top joint is at its narrowest), so there's plenty of wall thickness of the wood to maintain the strength, the toneholes are bushed through to the lining to prevent any moisture getting in between and with ebonite being dense, I doubt anyone would notice a difference in tone quality compared to an all plastic top joint unless they have ultra-superhuman senses.

If your furnace failed, then the gradual resulting temperature drop won't cause any problem if it was cased up (as would allowing it to slowly warm back up to room temperature) rather than being plummeted straight from room temperature to -40 in a heartbeat, unless you decide to play it from frozen. And bear in mind oboes get shipped around the world in all manner of temperatures and conditions and can end up in some freezing cold warehouse during that time.


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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: CMW 
Date:   2021-03-26 07:55

Thanks Chris!! Lots of really helpful information in that last post! I feel better now about considering a lined top joint in the quest for my "forever oboe"!!


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 Re: Lined oboes vs. synthetic top joint oboes
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-03-26 21:17

It's the best of both worlds and a much better sense of security having a lined top joint.

While lined bores and synthetic top joints have been a popular option with oboes, clarinet makers have been slow on the uptake and wooden clarinet top joints are just as likely to crack. I think only Yamaha and Selmer are the big name makers who offer lined top joint bores on some, but not all of their clarinets.


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