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Oboe/Marigaux 901 issues


Dear Geoffrey,

I am grateful for your expertise and knowledge of the oboe!

I recently purchased at a great price a beautiful Marigaux 901 from 1991. It has a nice dark tone which is a good compliment to my Fossati which is a bit lighter. But I am concerned I may need to send it back to Marigaux for at least a re-ream of the top joint or possibly a new top joint, heaven forbid! There is a slight step in the bore around the Bb and A tone-holes and a bit of roughness inside there as well! It could have had a swab jammed in and removed leaving a tiny bit of damage. I wonder if some repair guy tried to ream it our?

Anyway it seems to have some sagging and instability in the second octave notes on the left hand and there are issues with the high C# and D. The C# is low and the half-hole key is already high and the D doesn't always speak easily and seems high when it does. Tese issues may or may not be related to the top joint bore!?!

I also find both the forked F and the cross F low in the second octave.

I can send it back but at $3,000 US dollars I'm tempted to keep it...

Maybe I need to use a different staple perhaps? Or a different shape? I am gravitating to a short scrape but also use the American long scrape some as well. So it's confusing because my Puchner and my Fossati seem fairly dialed in with either reed style and don't exhibit the same sagging instability issues.

Thanks for your help,

Dear James

Sagging upper octave notes could be connected with a bore change. What is the extreme range like. Are the high notes really easy or tough?
The cone shape at that point is VERY critical and could be the cause but I wonder which reeds work best. Short scrapes or long scrapes. Let me know would you please.

As to staples though try a KGE French style reed if you can order a couple. They use a KGE 1 staple which seems to work well with the slightly narrow bore of the Marigaux. I have just finished a batch of playing on some of these French (blue thread) style reeds. No sagging on my 901, good scale, and easy both top and low notes.

I suspect that a bigger staple might lose a bit of focus in the sound anyway. BUT so much depends on the cane. Marigaux don't tolerate soft cane and sag on first octave notes and become recalcitrant on C and D in the mid register. The bottom notes are fab though!!! The shapes are pretty well flexible - it likes most. Wider shapes such as the Rigoutat -2 or Rigotti -2 are favourite though I think. Most Marigaux players use these with a French/German style reed and things just work.

The problem is always where has that oboe been. Who has reamed it out to try and "improve it"? There is always that risk but you must have liked something about the instrument to persuade you to buy it. Then getting it home the problems gradually surface. I have done exactly the same thing.

I am sure though the company would have a look at it for you if you think it is worth it. Send it to France and let them see it OR go to the IDRS Convention in New York from August 5th to 8th and let their techy have a look. They will be very helpful. See Renaud Patalowski - the MD of the company - and tell him I sent you along.

Best wishes



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Geoffrey Bridge


Professional oboist with many years experience. Former pupil of Leon Goossens. Solo artist for Arts Council of Great Britain. Freelance recitalist/broadcasting/orchestras. Former Head of woodwind teaching in Hampshire, England. Questions on repertoire, playing styles, reeds, cane selection and processing.


St Andrews University Royal College of Music, Aberdeen College of Education Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music General Teaching Council certificate Broadcast solo recitals/performed with major symphony orchestras/Music Club recitals/writings on double reed matters

Chairman and Trustee of the British Double Reed Society International Double Reed Society Association Hautbois Francais Orchestral Manager of Southern Pro Musica Orchestra/Aberdeen Sinfonietta

Double Reed News/Australasian Double Reed Society magazine/International Double Reed Society

LRAM, Cert Ed

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