Capable of producing a distinctively beautiful sound, the oboe enjoys an exalted place among woodwind instruments. The instrument may look similar to a clarinet, but it has a double reed that makes a world of difference. The oboe’s sound has been used in classical, chamber, film, folk, jazz, pop, and rock music. What’s more, the instrument has the distinction of being the one that tunes the orchestra with its unique “A”. There’s something undeniably special about the oboe, and if you’re looking for one, you’ve come to the right place. With a range of instruments to suit all levels of commitment and skill, Dawkes Music has got you covered.
The oboe made its appearance during the 1700s, when it was developed from the shawm. Its inventors may have been members of the Philidor and Hotteterre families. For most of that century, English speakers knew the instrument by its French name of hautbois (‘loud wood’ or ‘loud woodwind’). From 1770, the spelling changed to ‘oboe’, which was borrowed from the Italian oboè. Baroque oboes usually featured one ‘great’ key and two side keys, and they were made of boxwood. Several changes were made to the instrument’s design during the Classical period, and in the 1800s, Josef Hajek developed the Viennese or Wiener oboe. The 19th century also saw the development of the Conservatoire oboe by the Paris-based Triébert family. The modern oboes you’ll find at Dawkes are made of resin or wood such as African blackwood. Among other woods used to make the instruments are rosewood, violetwood or kingwood, ebony, and cocobolo.
According to Henry Playford’s 1695 book, the Sprightly Companion, the oboe’s sound is stately, majestic, and almost as good as the trumpet. There may be a small sting in that tail, but it’s nowhere nearly as cheeky as the play, Angels In America, in which the sound is described as what ducks would sound like if they were songbirds! However, if you’ve heard Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Roland Joffé’s 1986 film, the Mission, especially the main theme, Gabriel’s Oboe, you will know there’s nothing quite like it. Nothing that gooseflesh-inducingly beautiful comes easily, of course, so it’s not surprising that learning to play the oboe is notoriously challenging. The challenge of playing the oboe comes down to the double reed system. Along with the two thin cane blades on a metal tube, the instrument also has a reed socket and a narrow conical bore. If you’re a beginner, you may need to spend your first few lessons learning how to use the double reed to produce a sound, and then learning to keep the sound constant and steady. Only then will you start learning ways to control it and to add emotion, tone, and texture to the sound. Whether you’re only just setting out on your musical journey, or you’re a professional with years of experience, you’ll find the perfect oboe at Dawkes. Most of the oboes that we stock offer the accepted range of the more than two-and-a-half octaves from B♭3 to about G6. You’ll also find student oboes with a fully chromatic range of two-and-a-half octaves from bottom C. We’ve sourced our instruments from reputable suppliers such as Howarth, Yamaha, and Buffet, so you know that when you purchase an oboe from us, you are purchasing something of quality.
If you aren’t sure which oboe make or model is the right one for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We will do our best to match you with the perfect instrument. Along with recommending instruments, we can offer advice on caring for and playing them. You can find all sorts of information about oboes and other woodwind instruments in our blog, such as helpful hints, overviews, playing tips, and reviews of instruments and accessories.
If purchasing an oboe isn’t an option right now, or if you’re worried that you or your child may discover that the instrument’s not the perfect one for you or them, Dawkes has a solution. Take advantage of our oboe rental scheme and enjoy the use of an instrument without the cost or commitment that comes with purchasing one. Our rental schemes ask for a three-month commitment, which gives you enough time to gain a feel for the instrument and to decide whether you want to continue with the oboe or switch to another instrument. If you want to rent an instrument that is perfect for younger learners, choose the Howarth Junior. The size of it makes it suitable for small hands and fingers. If you want to hire an instrument for an adult, choose the Yamaha YOB-241B oboe. It’s an excellent model for beginners, and when you rent it, you also get a case, a cleaning cloth, a pullthrough, and all the bits and pieces you need to care for it.
Here at Dawkes, you’ll find oboes to suit various budgets and levels of interest. There’s a budget-friendly model made of resin that’s great for children, and then pricier models made of various materials. While most of our upper-range instruments are made from African blackwood, the Buffet Orfeo BC3663 also is available in Greenline, a composite material created by Buffet Crampon. Our staff are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our selection of oboes.
If you’re looking for accessories to enhance your playing experience or to care for your oboe, you’re sure to find them at Dawkes. We’ll do our best to source and to order any accessory that you can’t find in our webstore or our physical store. We offer a range of oboe reeds and reed cases, as well as the materials and tools you need to make your own reeds. In addition to this, we’ve got oboe maintenance essentials such as cork grease, bore oil, and polishing cloths, and we have swabs, oboe cases, stands, straps, and thumb rests. The perfect oboe for you isn’t “out there”. It’s right here at Dawkes, along with an array of other musical instruments and accessories, rental and repair services, and more. Choose us as your one-stop music shop in the UK.