About Our Oboes

We offer a number of historical styles of 'hautbois' ranging in time from about 1700 to 1810. During this period, there was no 'standard model' oboe as we find today, but instead a diverse collection of instruments representing evolving, regional pitch standards as well as the tastes of the individual craftsman who made them.

Our instruments divide roughly into two types; the relatively large-bore 'baroque oboes' of the first part of the 18th Century, and the smaller bore, 'classical oboes' of the last quarter of the 18th Century.

Baroque Oboes

In order to reflect the basic diversity of pitch levels in use during the first half of the 18th Century, we have chosen to make our baroque oboes at 3 pitch levels, each a half step apart and centered on the current 'modern baroque' standard of a = 415hz.

The primary focus of our production of a=415hz instruments is on the work of the German maker, J.H. Eichentopf. We've done this for two reasons: Firstly, because his instruments are closely associated with the music of J.S. Bach (he also made oboes d’amore and oboes da caccia) and secondly because the original pitch level of his instruments closely matches our current modern standard of a=415hz. This happy coincidence allows us to copy the important features of Eichentopf's oboes more or less exactly and lessens the chance that we will compromise his original intentions.

French instruments were generally about a half-tone to a quarter-tone lower in pitch than those used in Germany. In order to conform to our 3 transposable baroque pitch levels, we have decided to raise the pitch of the Schlegel and Hotteterre models from about a = 405hz up to a = 415hz by shortening their reed systems. (The Schlegel and Hotteterre can also be supplied at their original pitch of a = 405hz, if specially requested.) The anonymous Galpin oboe, however, is made to play at the low French 'Opera pitch' of a = 392hz.

Italian baroque oboes were a half-tone to a whole-tone higher than in Germany. Our Ancuiti and Denner oboes represent the lower of the two standards at a = 440hz.

Classical Oboes

Sometime in the middle of the 18th Century, Italian makers began producing smaller bored oboes that used smaller reeds as well. These instruments were promoted by travelling Italian virtuosi, and soon became popular across Europe, effectively replacing the older, large-bore/large reed oboes by the 1770s.

In Germany, this type of instrument was commonly supplied with three top joints in order to cope with the rising pitch requirements demanded by Italian opera, chamber and church music. Our Grundmann and Floth models are normally made at the a = 430hz level, but can also be supplied with a shorter joint at a = 440hz.