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Oboe/MKD by Otley woodwind


Dear Goeffrey,

After leaving the oboe for 25 years(!) I have now started again on a student model and am looking to update and have come across, via the website, a rare MKD at Ian Crowther's shop.  I have heard that MKD (based in Otley, Yorkshire) went out of business in the 80's(?) but produced very good instruments.

I just wanted to ask whether you have had any experience with these models and would be able to offer your valuable viewpoint.  I think Crowthers are pricing it at over 3000-infact here is the link:

Many thanks for your time,


Dear Simon

Welcome back to the oboe, I say. Well done you!  I hope you enjoy it. Find yourself a good teacher though to help if you can certainly to make sure you are on the right lines.

The MKD oboes are very few and far between as not many were made. Mick McKenna was the maker who tried to improve on all aspects of the Howarth oboes at the time. You will notice in the photo from Ian Crowthers that the top joint has an unusual profile. He was a little before his time in thinking about the thickness of walls and length of tone holes and so on. Interestingly enough many makers are now back to a thicker top joint including Howarth themselves. There were also some interesting key work differences as well in terms of layout, width and convenience.

I knew Mick from the past and I know that he did experiment quite a lot and that hardly any two instruments are the same!! That may be an exaggeration as the same can be said for all top class oboes. So the oboe on offer could be absolutely terrific or a real "bummer'. The best plan is to try it and have someone else try it also, before parting with money. Watch out for instabilities and tricky notes such as keyed F, middle E flat, middle C sharp, the pitch and production ease of the second octave notes.

Mick was a very good player himself and certainly sought to make as good an oboe as possible. So try before you buy and you may have a real winner. I would think 3K about the price if you can get that.

Best of luck with it



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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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