How long can an oboe last?
Have you ever wondered how long can an oboe lasts? Our instrument is an interesting investment of money, but of course, a normal oboe can be keeper in good condition for about 20 years.
So it can work for me during 20 years in a professional way? In this case, we are very sorry to say that the most appropriate thing if you play it in a professional orchestra is to change it every 4-5 years since the sound can vary due to the wear and tear of time.
If you are seriously considering becoming a semi-professional oboist, but have a low budget and are going to buy a second-hand instrument, then we do not recommend that you buy an oboe that is more than 10 years old. Like it or not, oboes have a useful life. It is true that they have a useful life, which is generally long. And that depends a lot on the use that has been given to it and the wear of the instrument, but wood is a material “that is alive” that changes over time and the holes also lose their shape.
While it is true that there are technicians and oboists who are responsible for restoring and improving the condition of the instrument, it is also true that it will never be completely new. A revision or repair of these characteristics can cost between € 500 and € 1000 or more and although the instrument is again in very good condition, sometimes, even better than when you bought it, it has lost that quality when playing, which I call the brake in the air, which only has it when it is new. Worth it? That will depend on the state of the instrument and the economic capabilities of each one.
Here are some of the problems that affect the oboe over time:
- Slits: Most oboes are made of hardwoods that are quite stable, but even the strongest wood suffers over time, expanding and contracting as temperatures and humidity levels vary.
- The keys come together or separate having slack: over time and especially during the first year, the oboe will contract and expand a few micrometers, a priori it will not be perceptible, but the distance between the anchor posts will change and you can tighten the keys or leave them loose, causing additional friction in their movement or leave them loose, with a space between the keys or between the keys and the columns.
- The springs lose strength: as they are used and after a few years, the action of the keys is noticeably weaker. After several years of daily use, some or all springs in the key mechanism may need to be replaced, although the oboe may continue to have a useful life.
- Wear in the hole: the diameter of the hole in the upper part of the oboe must have a specific and very narrow elliptical shape. This shape is sensitive to some deformation over time, and if lost, the oboe sound can be difficult to recover. This is commonly known as “blowing out.”
And you? Have you noticed changes in your oboe? If you have replaced it, how long has your oboe lasted?
Do not forget to visit our oboist blog to learn more.