Oboe Care

To protect your new instrument from cracking, it will be necessary to give it a gradual break-in period. Refrain from playing it for longer than a half hour a day for the first couple of weeks and slowly increase your practice time to one hour over a few months.

Always dry out the moisture in the bore after playing, with the cloth swab provided, including the middle joint socket where water tends to accumulate. You should oil your instrument (inside and out) at least 3 or 4 times a year, especially in the winter when the humidity is low (less than 30%) or after the oboe has not been played for a long time.

To protect the leather pads, remove the keys by pushing out the axles with a paper clip pusher and use a feather or pipe cleaner to distribute the oil in the bore. Let the oil soak in for a few hours or overnight and then be sure to completely wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel before putting the keys back on. Be sure to remove oil from the tone holes, as well. We recommend using a thin grade of almond oil such as used for massage.

It is a good idea to have your instrument re-bored after about a year of use, because of the inevitable shrinkage in the bore from repeated wetting and drying. We will be happy to do this for you free of charge (for our instruments), but you will be responsible for all shipping and insurance charges.

Here's what you need to be aware of to keep from cracking the top joint of your oboe. Wood responds to moisture (i.e. liquid water or water vapor in the air) by expanding when it absorbs it or contracting if it dries out and looses it., much like a common sponge in your sink.

Cracking is the result of the wood fibers next to the bore becoming so saturated with moisture(expanding)that the dryer fibers on the outside come into conflict with it (contracting). The wood is normally able to withstand these forces, but if they become too extreme...POP! the outside will split open to relieve the tension. To keep these forces under control, you need to minimize the moisture inside the instrument and maximize it on the outside.

Condensation from warm breath blown into a cold instrument is the main way moisture can become too extreme. To avoid this, always warm the top joint to the touch before starting your practice. (A warm towel or hot water bottle can work, or put the joint under your arm pit for a few minutes) Never practice in a cold room! If this is unavoidable, swab out the top joint, (with the cotton swab provided), every 10 minutes, and keep your practice to a half hour at first and then up to a hour, if you must.(Keep swabbing out!) The basic idea here is moderation.

It is important that the moisture in the bore can eventually evaporate every day and relieve the tension in the wood. Oiling can help slow down the movement of moisture in and out of the wood. This must only be done in the bore when it is dry, otherwise you will compromise its ability to dry out and trap moisture where you want it to be minimized. Wait a couple of days without practicing to make sure of this before you oil inside.

You can oil the outside frequently (no waiting) and you will see how it absorbs the oil if it has dried out from low humidity in the air. Don't store the oboe next to a stove or heater for this reason. If you have a humidity gauge, keep track of it and put a kettle of water on the stove if it gets below 60%. Practicing in a warm humid room is much easier on your instrument than if you are in a cold dry one.