Adjust Your Oboe

This is a systematic method to adjust an oboe, using only a few simple tools. 

I have minimized the use of the feeler gage, as it takes a lot of practice to use the feeler well.  Although I use it to verify the adjustments, it is possible to get the oboe to play well without using a feeler gage at all.

This method works best on an oboe that is in good basic repair, with well sealing pads and nice tight mechanism. It is a supplement to regular professional maintenance, not a substitute for it.

I recommend that you do these adjustments in the order I present them.  Some adjustments can interfere with others if they are over-tightened:  I have chosen an order which isolates each adjustment from the others, so you should not have to backtrack and re-adjust any screws.


Part 1, introduction

This video introduces the materials you will need and some of the basic techniques you will use to adjust your oboe.


part 2: Primary top joint adjustments

Here I cover the A-C, G-Bb, and Bb-C adjustments.

The method is simple.  First back out all three screws.  Then slowly tighten them one by one, using your sight, touch, and hearing to determine when to stop.  

Verify the adjustments with the feeler gage, and then go on to the next video.


part 3: Primary lower joint adjustments

This one covers the most basic lower joint adjustments:  The E-F# vent, the D-F# vent, and the E-Forked F Reso.  

The technique is the same as the top joint:  Back out the screws, then turn them in slowly while feeling and listening to the pad for the proper adjustment.  

Please pay attention to the order I use for these adjustments.  If you do them in the wrong order, you may interfere with the feel of the proper adjustment.


part 4: low bflat and lost motion points

Next I talk about the low Bb adjustment.  Loree changed the mechanism on this key a few years ago, so I show the difference between the old and new style keywork and show how you can adjust both styles. If your oboe is not made by Loree, you most likely have the old style keywork.

The oboe mechanism requires lost motion or “play” in several places.  I will show you what to look for, and what to do in case your keys don’t have this lost motion.


part 5: secondary lower joint adjustments

Now I cover the secondary lower joint adjustments.  The “primary” adjustments are the ones necessary to get the oboe to play at all.  The oboe will basically play without all these “secondary” adjustments in place, but they are important for the pitch of certain notes, and for various trill fingerings.  

In this episode, I look at the C-E, the C-Eb, the B-C#, equalizing the Left and Right hand Eb pitches, and the F#-G# bridge adjustments.  

I also talk about the importance of proper key tightening, especially for the correct adjustment of the C-E and F#-G# bridge keys.


part 6: secondary top joint adjustments

Finally, I will cover the secondary top joint adjustments, including the side trill, the diamond key height, and the heights of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd 8ve vents.  

You can control the relative relationships of the upper and lower octaves, to some extent.  You may be able to slightly sharpen or flatten the upper register in relation to the lower one by raising or lowering the octave keys.