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Basic Oboe Adjusting A Quick guide

Required Materials

Oboe, Screwdriver, Cigarette paper or feeler gauge, and reed.

Important things to remember when adjusting an oboe

  • Make sure your screwdriver snuggly fits the screws of your oboe. Using one that is too big or too small can damage the screws.
  • When moving the screws, unless indicated, do not move the screws more than a minute on a clock at a time. A small movement can drastically change the adjustment of the instrument.
  • If in doubt of what something does, use the "wiggle" method to figure out what the mechanism connects to.
  • When inserting your cigarette paper or feeler gauge under the pad, make sure you are inserting it on the opposite side of the connection to the rod.
  • When pressing down keys, use a light touch. Usually the thumb is a very heavy finger, so try to avoid using it.
  • After you have adjusted all the screws you must play the oboe to make sure things feel ok. If they don't you need to figure out where you want to make the adjustments to suit your playing pressure.

Screws #1–4

Screw #1

This screw regulates the space between the F# key and the bridge key that moves the C and B keys. You need to have "play" in the bridge key for the mechanisms to work correctly. You only need a slight amount of "play" to ensure a good working mechanism.

  • To add "play" turn the screw clockwise.
  • To reduce "play" turn the screw counterclockwise.

Screw #2

This regulates the relationship between the C key against the Bb key. In general you want the relationship to be equal. If you have to favor one, the Bb key can be ever so slightly heavier.

  1. Press the F# key to open the C and Bb keys. Put the cigarette paper under the C key and release the F# key. Pull out the cigarette paper and take note of the resistance it took to pull out the paper.
  2. Press the F# key again. Put the cigarette paper under the Bb key and release F# key. Pull out the cigarette paper and compare this resistance against the C key. They should be equal.
  3. If the C is lighter, turn clockwise.
  4. if the Bb is lighter, turn counterclockwise.

Screw #3

This regulates the relationship between the C key to the A key. As in Screw #2, you want the two to be equal, but if one is heavier it would be the A key.

  1. Press the F# key and put cigarette paper under the C key. Keep the F# pressed and push down the A key. Pull out the paper and take note of the resistance.
  2. Put the cigarette paper under the A key and press the key. pull out the paper and compare the resistance to the C key.
  3. If the C key is lighter, turn clockwise.
  4. If the A key is lighter, turn counterclockwise.

Screw #4

This regulates the relationship between the Bb key to the C key. As in Screw #2 & 3, you want the two to be equal, but if one is heavier it would be the A key.

  1. Press the F# key and put cigarette paper under the Bb key. Keep the F# pressed and push down the G key. Pull out the paper and take note of the resistance.
  2. Put the cigarette paper under the G key and press the key. pull out the paper and compare the resistance to the Bb key.
  3. If the Bb key is lighter, turn clockwise.
  4. If the G key is lighter, turn counterclockwise.

Screw #5

This regulates the F# key to the Ab key. It is best to purposefully put this out of adjustment to then bring it back in adjustment. Do this by turning the screw counterclockwise one full turn (360º). This is a test you'll need to do with your reed.

  1. Play a low C and press the Ab key. Since you put it out of adjustment you should notice the sound stop or in the least feel a difference in vibrations in your hands as you play.
  2. Turn the screw clockwise, a minute at a time, to slowly put it back in adjustment.
  3. The screw is in adjustment when you first stop feeling any vibrations in your fingers as you are playing.
  4. If you go too far the F# will not close.

Screws #6–8

These 3 screws work together to make your right hand notes speak. Before you begin working on these screws, as you did with the Ab key, you need to deactivate the F resonance key to continue working on screws #6 and #7. To deactivate the screw turn Screw #8 counterclockwise one full turn (360º).

Screw #6

This screw regulates the relationship between the E key and the F# resonance key. Follow the same directions as you did for Screws #3 & 4.

  • If the F# resonance is lighter, turn clockwise.
  • If the E key is lighter, turn counterclockwise.

Screw #7

This regulates the relationship between the F# resonance key and the D key. Follow the same directions as you did for Screws #3 & 4.

  • If the F# resonance key is lighter, turn clockwise.
  • If the D key is lighter, turn counterclockwise.

Screw #8

This should only be adjusted once screws #7 & 8 are adjusted.

  1. Press the D key and you will see the F resonance key raise. If you then press the E key you will see the F resonance key come back down.
  2. Because we backed the screw out the pad shouldn't come down completely. Turn the screw, minutes at a time, until the pad touches the tone hole.
  3. Once it touches the tone hole use your cigarette paper to check the resistance. It should be very little, where you can fill the pad gripping, but not as much as any of the other pads we have already adjusted.

Screw #9

This screw regulates the relationship between the E key and the C resonance.

  1. Insert the cigarette paper under the E key and depress the C key. Pull out the paper and take note of the resistance.
  2. Insert the cigarette paper under the C resonance key. Pull out the paper and compare to the E key. The C resonance should be slightly heavier than the E key.
  • If the E key is lighter, turn the screw clockwise.
  • If the C resonance key is lighter, turn the screw counterclockwise.

Screws #10 & 11

Screw #10

This screw allows you to play low Db or C while pressing the left Eb key. To adjust this screw you will need your reed to play and test as you adjust.

  1. Begin by turning the screw counterclockwise a full turn (360º). This will put this completely out of adjustment so you can put it completely in adjustment.
  2. Play a low Db and press the left Eb key a few times slowly. The sound should stop, or in the least you'll feel vibrations in your fingers.
  3. Turn the screw clockwise until the note continues to speak and you feel no vibrations in your fingers.
  4. Be careful not to over adjust because if you do the C key will be held open and you will not be able to play any notes below D.

Screw #11

This screw allows you to play low B while pressing the C# key. This is another adjustment that is done while playing.

  1. Begin by turning the screw counterclockwise a full turn (360º). This will put this completely out of adjustment so you can put it completely in adjustment.
  2. Play a low B and slide your right pinky to the C# key. The sound should stop, or in the least you'll feel vibrations in your fingers.
  3. Turn the screw clockwise until the note continues to speak and you feel no vibrations in your fingers.
  4. Be careful not to over adjust because if you do the B key will be held open and you will not be able to play low B or Bb.

Congratulations!

You have just completed a basic adjustment of your oboe. There is of course more that you can do, but after adjusting these 11 different screws, you should feel that your oboe plays with great ease, especially if there were a lot of screws out of adjustment.

Checking the adjustment of your instrument really should be looked at daily. There are so many factors to the instrument going out of adjustment that to keep it in complete working order the player should take that sort of care.

Created By
Kristin Leitterman
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with an image by benzahodnar - "oboe music art"

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