QUESTION: My daughter is now 15 and is using a Buffet 4121 oboe from county music service stock but we are now considering what next for her.
As a non-player I have only slight knowledge gleaned from others about what would be a good, sensible buy for the next few years. She is currently taking Grade 7.
We have had advice that the intermediate Yamaha 431 would be a good bet for her - she plays in the County Youth Orchestra - and that they are quite (dare I say it) robust models.
Would you have any advice on this or suggestions for a man with a limited budget?
ANSWER: Dear Paul
A problem for you. Will you be wanting to buy another oboe after the step up one that you are contemplating presently because I always feel that you should buy the best you can afford.
Your daughter is taking grade 7 perhaps she might benefit from an oboe with the full system rather than an intermediate level. If you are going to spend say £2500 on a new Yamaha 431 maybe you could find a top brand oboe albeit older but blown in, for slightly more than the same money.
Looking at Howarth's website as I write for example I see some very promising second hand oboes that might fill the bill. There are two Rigoutat oboes for £3350 and £3500, a Fossati Tiery for £3250 and a promising Marigaux at £3500. Obviously these would have to be played and tested but usually from Howarth they will be in very good order.
Another tack altogether is to try an oboe from China which is doing well and supported by some top players - the De Vinci Oboe.
This is sold by Fortay Reeds who work from Ringwood. Tel. 01425 470893 and daytime 01590 679597.
They sell brand new for a great price of £1455 and are almost a full system. They are very good and solid wooden oboes. Worth a pilgrimage to Ringwood to hopefully try a few and see what is what. Then perhaps if warranted in time consider a very good recent used or new top maker.
If you bought from Steve Forbes of Fortay Reeds and something isn't right he will fix it for you and he's not too far away from you.
I think the Yamaha 431 is a pretty good oboe but not greatly characterful and tending to blandness.
The "real" oboe makers eventually are best to go for and they are in no order, Buffet, Marigaux, Howarth, Rigoutat, Loree, Fossati. Bulgheroni, Frank, Puchner, Josef, Dupin - the last five much rarer in this country though.
Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you even more!
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QUESTION: Geoffrey, thank you for the advice. We are a little reticent about buying a £3k piece because we are not sure how long she will keep it up for! She enjoys orchestra etc but may not keep it up after she leaves school.
Thank you for the advice on the De Vinci. Might well have a look at that. We have just found someone locally selling a 'nearly new' Yamaha 431 for around the £1000 mark so are giving this serious consideration!!
A nearly new Yamaha for that sort of money must be good but do get it checked over first. I am sure you will.
They sell for about £1500 - 1600 used, normally.
Thanks for your rating by the way. Good to know the appreciation!
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QUESTION: You are most welcome.
Yes, my thoughts were that it was a good price. Howarth have one up at £1600 on their current list.
Best, I think, to have a look, see if she likes it, get it checked over (there is an oboe repairer by the name of Alaster Bentley who lives nearby who I might approach to give it the once over - you might know of him?)
I think this might suit at least pro-tem without a major spend.... and if they sell at that sort of money usually I might even get my money back after she's finished with it.
If it's no good, a trip to Ringwood perhaps?
Yes I know Alaster quite well. He worked on one of my oboes last summer and did a great job. He also has oboes for sale sometimes.
As you write of Dorset I assumed that you were living there. I presume that your daughter is perhaps at school there. Hence my reference to Ringwood and Steve Forbes of Fortay reeds. I used to live in the area myself until ten years ago near to Wimborne.
A much closer champion to you and supplier of the de Vinci oboes is Malcolm Messiter the great British oboist who is ex Bryanston - some years ago now, and lives in Barnet. He would pleased to help you try one I'm sure if that is still a feasible route for you. Get in touch with me if you need contact details or google de Vinci oboes and you will find him.
Best wishes with your search