Assembling the Oboe
The oboe is one of the most delicate instruments made. Great care and time must be used when assembling and disassembling the upper and lower joints.
- Prior to each use, soak the reed in water for a minute or two. This will help the oboe to play easier and better. An empty film container works well to soak the reed. Change water every day.
- Apply a light film of cork grease around all 3 tenon corks (reed, middle and bell tenons).
- With a slight twisting motion, straightly insert the reed into the upper joint and push all the way down. Repeat the same procedure while putting the bell on the lower joint tenon.
- Always assemble connections in a straight parallel manner. Be careful that you do not ‘rock’ sections back and forth to assemble as this could cause the tenon to break off.
- Assembling the middle tenon is a very important process. With your left hand, pick up the upper joint near the middle and with your right hand pick up the lower joint just above the bell tenon connection. Carefully align the two upper and lower bridge keys and slide straight together with only the smallest twisting motion.
- Be careful that you do not knock off the two cork bumpers on either bridge key. The lower bridge keys must align with the upper bridge keys to operate. Again, be careful that you do not ‘rock’ the sections back and forth as this could cause the tenon to break off.
- Once you have finished playing your oboe, remove the reed and rinse with water. Blow or shake off any excess water and put the reed back into a Reedgard.
- Remove the bell by pulling straight off with only a slight twisting motion. Then, with your left hand, grab the middle of the upper joint and with your right hand grab the lower end of the lower joint. Carefully pull the two joints apart with only the slightest twisting motion. Be careful that you do not knock off the cork bumpers.
Never force the joints together. Additional cork grease should be added weekly or as needed. If joints are loose or too tight, they may need to be adjusted or replaced. See a qualified repairman.
Do not loosen or tighten the various adjustment screws located on the body. Only an advanced oboist or qualified Double Reed Technician should perform these adjustments.
Cleaning and care
You will need to purchase an oboe swab (do not use a clarinet swab) and a small duster brush from your local music retailer or online.
To clean your oboe, follow these simple instructions:
- Always remove the reed and carefully slide the reed into the Reedgard.
- With your oboe disassembled, pull the oboe swab completely through the lower section. Start from the bell tenon up. Repeat if necessary.
- Pull the oboe swab about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the upper joint section, starting at the middle going up and then pull back out. Do not pull the swab too far into the top joint or it will get stuck. If the swab gets stuck in either section, DO NOT attempt to remove it as this can damage the bore and tone port areas. See a qualified Double Reed Technician for proper removal.
- The small duster brush can be used to clean the dust and dirt under the key shafts. Be careful not to force the brush into any tight areas or damage the pads.
- Do not stand an assembled oboe upright on the bell unattended. If bumped or knocked over, damage can occur. And avoid laying your oboe down unprotected – if you stop for a break or end your playing session, put your oboe back into the case.
- Make sure each piece of your oboe is back in the right spot before you close your case. Don’t force your case closed – if it doesn’t close properly, check how you have packed your oboe away. Do not put your book or anything else on top of your oboe as this will damage the keywork and rod system.
- Make sure your case is closed and locked properly before you pick it up.
Do not chew gum, eat or drink soft drinks just before or while you play your oboe. Food particles and sugar are difficult to dislodge and eventually will affect the playing qualities. If possible, rinse your mouth with water before playing.
The sounds of the Oboe
The oboe is a unique double reed instrument. It’s sound is melodic and mysterious with many colours and tones. It can be harsh sounding but also very sweet and calming. The regular oboe first appeared in the mid-17th century, when it was called the ‘hautbois’. There is an endless supply of music written for the oboe. Famous composers such as JS Bach, Joseph Hayden and GF Handel wrote extensively for the beautiful oboe. A more contemporary sound for the oboe is displayed in pieces such as the ‘Sequenza VII’ by Luciano Berio.
Helpful videos and tutorials
- Setting up & packing away your oboe
- Posture & hand position when playing your oboe
- JS Bach oboe concerto in G minor
We also have our own YouTube Channel, where you can find a collection of useful videos and tutorials.