Double Reed Tips from Michael!
This month we have some great information from our associate Michael Dicker, as the wooden instrument "crack season" is upon us...
Avoiding Oboe Cracks!
by Michael Dicker, MD Double Reed Services
What is the biggest single problem in maintaining oboes and English horns? Yes.... wooden oboes and English horns are susceptible to cracking in the top joint between the trill keys. Even the most conscientious and careful players – regardless of age --may not be able to avoid this occurrence. When it happens there are several approaches to repairing the crack. Sometimes, if it is a severe crack the joint must be replaced. In any case the restoring of the top joint to “like new” condition is iffy and often expensive.
As a former oboist I have seen and experienced the trauma and the inconvenience of a cracked to joint and would like to offer my advice: avoid the wooden top joint!
Fox Products manufactures several oboe and English horn models made of polypropylene.
They also produce hybrid models made of grenadilla wood with polypropylene top joints. There is never a worry about these joints cracking. Nor is there any wearing out as is sometimes the case of wooden top joints in the most expensive oboes. Please understand that polypropylene is a very high quality, very durable synthetic. It is NOT plastic or resin both of which are hard materials which can break and which do not help to produce a high quality tone. It may also interest you to know that the “poly” body parts are actually more expensive than grenadilla ones!
If you ask whether an English horn or oboe with a synthetic top joint sacrifices tone quality, your question is certainly justified. I have done the “behind the screen” comparison test between totally wood and hybrid and totally polypropylene oboes and can tell you truthfully that the listener has great difficulty distinguishing a difference in the tone. In fact, the “poly” oboes may have a bit better carrying power.
To reinforce my enthusiasm for the “poly” oboes and English horns, please consider the fact that in the past few years the most famous French oboe makers have copied Fox Products and are offering oboes with synthetic top joints. One maker has developed a synthetic material that is supposed to completely replace wood!
The problems with the French oboes and English horns is both the price and the ability to get good service. Do yourself a favor and consider the Renard Model 330 Oboe and the Renard 555 English Horn. Both of these instruments, made by Fox, define the word “bargain” in purchasing oboes and English horns.
If you are looking for an oboe or an English horn, Carl’s Pro Band has a new Renard 330 and a new Renard 555 in stock ready for you to examine and to purchase at excellent, discounted prices. Carl and Travis also provide the very best service available for these instruments!