Oboe/Left F key

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Question
Hello
My daughter's oboe teacher would like her to upgrade her oboe and I am wondering what oboes have a left F key which is what her teacher would like it to have as bear minimum.
I cannot afford to break the bank and my daughter just started high school and has played a bargain basement Linton for the past 2 years. I have heard good things about the Yamaha 241 which is supposed to be a much better student model but I have been given different answers about whether it has the left f...can you help? My daughter's teacher would like her to stay away from wood right now as she has to walk to school quite a distance and she is concerned the wood would be difficult for her to maintain during our Canadian winters and fears my hard earned money would be wasted if it was to crack due to weather and all her walking with it. Thanks very much

Answer
Hi, Linda.  I'm not personally familiar with the Yamaha 241 oboe.  I did some research and it appears that it does not have the side F key.  I agree with your daughter's oboe teacher that this is enough reason to reject the instrument. Looking at images and reading some of the information, I think there are significant other reasons as well:  it lacks a low Bb key, it lacks an F resonance key.  Let me explain the latter.  There are times when one can't play the regular F and have to resort to either the side F or a forked F.  The problem with the forked F is that the tone is not comparable to the regular F - it comes out stuffy.  In modern oboes, that problem was solved by including another key that automatically came up when the forked F is played.  This added resonance to the forked F and improved the tone quality.  The 241 lacks that particular key.  Finally, despite what the manufacturer would like you to believe, I firmly believe that the tone quality of a plastic oboe will never match the warmth of a wooden oboe.  I'd like to address the cracking issue.  I spent my high school career in Rochester, NY and played on wooden oboes throughout most of high school (except for the 8th grade when I did play on a new Linton plastic oboe).  I never had a problem with cracking. I know it exists - I don't deny that - but if one is careful, warms the upper joint to room temperature, maintains moisture while the oboe is in the case, and frequently swabs out the instrument especially in colder, drier weather, the probability of cracking is greatly reduced.  Take a look at Nora Post's website (www.norapost.com).  She does a good job of addressing this issue.  I have always advised parents to purchase the best oboe they can afford.  The oboe is difficult enough an instrument to master (if that's ever possible) without having to deal with the frustrations of an inferior instrument.  I especially think this is so when the student is serious.  An alternative might be to consider a good used oboe.  They have already been broken in and, if cracked, they have been repaired.  Except for exceptional cases, a crack in an oboe is not fatal. It can be filled and at the hands of a master, almost invisible.  There are some who even say that a filled crack actually improves the tone quality of the oboe. Your daughter's teacher should be helpful in choosing a good oboe whether used or new.  I hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions or need clarification.  Joel  

Oboe

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Joel Simon

Expertise

Reed making, oboe technique, oboe adjustments. PLEASE NOTE, NO QUESTIONS ABOUT OBOE VINTAGE OR VALUE. THAT INCLUDES SERIAL NUMBERS, AGE OF INSTRUMENTS, AND HOW MUCH THEY MIGHT BE WORTH; AND THAT INCLUDES WHERE YOU MIGHT FIND SUCH INFORMATION. THESE QUESTIONS WILL BE REJECTED.

Experience

I've played oboe for over 40 years. During that time I've played and performed in many ensembles including full orchestras, chamber orchestras, and wind quintets. I've played as both an amateur and professionally. Out of necessity, I've learned how to care for the oboe, make adjustments and repair when necessary.

Education/Credentials
I studied with Robert Sprenkle at Eastman School of Music preparatory department and 3 years privately with Lois Wann. I've also studied with Robert Eliscu.

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