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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a wood Signet oboe (yeah, I know...) from a store that was liquidating its inventory. There was a barely-used oboe in a pristine Bundy (!) oboe case. It was marked $100.00. I couldn't resist. I've wanted to return to playing for several years.

This instrument shows signs of very little use. No dents, no bent keys.

I got it home and closely inspected it and put a leak light through it. This is what I found:

All of the pads look like recent installations (or maybe original, which is a possibility because the instrument shows almost no use. Okay, they're probably not original, but they seem to be in very good condition).

The silver-plated keys were polished for sale.

Three or four of the cork keys are not properly seated. This is where the problem is. I've never worked on an oboe. I played oboe for several years, but never worked on one.

Here's my quandary:

I'm not bringing it to to the local I-Repair-All-Upscale-Woodwinds-For-Big-Bucks-Guy-Who-Hates-Low-End-Student-Instruments who has a very large website, so I'll have to do the work myself.

Should I try re-seating the cork pads with a cup heater and a pad slick, or should I just replace the leaking cork pads with new corks? (Most look like recent installations).

I've read that many oboists eschew cork pads completely (which may explain their odd breaths).

Is installing felt pads of the proper size a better solution? (I can foresee the challenges of making sure that the pads are of the same height).

I've repadded many clarinets. My first and only job when I attended high school was in a music store was repadding clarinets, so I understand well padding principles and methods ON A CLARINET.

But an oboe? Cork? My only experience with cork is removing one from a bottle of champagne. (Even that was a long time ago. Most "corks" are synthetic now.)

A very long time ago, I played oboe in the high school concert band as well as in youth ensembles, so I know how finicky the even best oboe can be. However, I never needed to have any work done on my F. Loree. (When I abandoned it for the saxophone, it passed through several hands until I finally sold it here on SOTW. It wasn't in very good condition by then).

Help?
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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Ok, I'll be brave and try to explain what you need to do.

On ANY woodwind instrument, the pad (regardless if it a skin, leather, or cork pad) needs to seal a tone hole perfectly. multiply that by every hole on the instrument. Sometimes replacing a pad is easier than making an existing one seal.

Now, how well the substance does this, is another subject altogether. With cork pads (which should be air tight), you have to see if there is tiny holes on the pad creating a leak to the side of the pad (through the cork) as well as making sure it's level (as well as the tone hole).

In addition, you got the nightmare of regulation that exists.

What I have given you is a real simple explanation, and I may be saying things you already know - if I'm under talking you, I apologize.

If you tackle this - I wish you luck!!

Charles
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. I've got the concepts down pat. I've repadded a lot of clarinets. What I'm wondering is if I should replace or reseat the leaking /poorly seated cork with another cork pad or replace it with a felt pad. I've read that many players prefer the felt pads to cork for the reason you cited: they leak. I'm not looking forward to taking any part of the instrument apart, but I got myself into this quandary, I might as well fix the thing.

I'm figuring if I can find a chart of pad heights for this oboe, I might go ahead and repad the entire instrument in felt and bladder pads (except for the octave keys and a couple of others that I can punch out of cork.

I've never heated silver plate. How well does it fare against a cup heater at about 130 degrees F?
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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I never used a cup heater, only flame - And Ive never had an issue with silver. Warning, silver will heat up easier and quicker than nickel and it would be possible to burn the silver if your'e not use to it. As far as bladder or leather vs cork pads, opinion (and yes I did say OPINION) I'd stick with cork except for the lowest few.

As far as reseating vs replacing - thats something easier seen to give a fair assessment. I guess if you replaced it with a new pad that you were sure had no problems, that would take that factor out of the equation. Now let's talk about the quality of the tone hole.

Felt pads would be softer and more forgiving than cork, but you would have to make sure you get really thin ones or your'e going to open a whole new can of worms.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I never used a cup heater, only flame - And Ive never had an issue with silver. Warning, silver will heat up easier and quicker than nickel and it would be possible to burn the silver if your'e not use to it. As far as bladder or leather vs cork pads, opinion (and yes I did say OPINION) I'd stick with cork except for the lowest few.

As far as reseating vs replacing - thats something easier seen to give a fair assessment. I guess if you replaced it with a new pad that you were sure had no problems, that would take that factor out of the equation. Now let's talk about the quality of the tone hole.

Felt pads would be softer and more forgiving than cork, but you would have to make sure you get really thin ones or your'e going to open a whole new can of worms.
Yes, the heat is a great consideration. I'll have to work at a lower heat on silver than on chrome and take my time.

You hit the nail on the head with the pad thickness. The thing is that the newer looking cork pads are actually thicker than the older looking ones and they're the ones that aren't seated too well. And the pad cups are pretty deep.

I don't think that getting the proper felt pad thickness will be a problem. Clarinet pads as thin as 2.5mm are common, and I'm sure that I can get thinner if need be. I've reduced the thickness by shaving the cardboard back for clarinets with a single edged razor. Most of the time, the bladder falls off, so that's tricky.

Music Med has cork pads in varying diameters at a thickness of 3mm which seems a bit thick. I can shave off the thickness with fine sandpaper, but I'm not sure that that is a solution. The tiny octave pads can be created from sheet cork with a set of small punches. One of the felt pads is leaking so badly that I'll have to replace that one first to even make it playable.

A woman in my neighborhood who teaches piano has a degree in oboe performance from Manhattan School of Music. I think that when I get it playable, I'll ask her to come by to play it to a tuner and tell me where the tuning problems are. She's interested in a Tosca clarinet I have for sale, so If I knock $300.00 off the price, she might help. She's a bit crusty, so I'll have to approach her carefully.

Thanks for the tips. I'll take all the wisdom I can get. Keep it coming. I've never been so intimidated by anything mechanical as I am by this oboe. (It's the mechanics that really scares me. Oboes aren't clarinets and the resemblance is superficial).

And then there's the problem of getting a light up the upper part of the body. I'll have to find an LED with wires already attached an make my own leak light. Any suggestions?
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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I wouldn't even try a light as something that small I'd stick to a feeler.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Saved! I sold the Tosca clarinet to the woman in my neighborhood. She was happy with the price so she offered to take the oboe to her tech who does work for the university in another city to have it looked at. She doesn't think that I'm looking at a major overhaul. It has been so long that I've even looked at an oboe that the thought of doing anything to it is a bit scary.

The timing of the sale of the clarinet was fortuitous.

In truth, the thought of replacing the pads wasn't so unsettling. It's the idea of taking it apart that I don't like. The key work is much more complicated than that of a clarinet. Regulating a clarinet isn't difficult. But an oboe? There are so many adjustment screws That I really don't feel like fooling with it.

Stay tuned.
 
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