Monday, February 4, 2013

A Doubler's Take on the Loboe

Joseph Tomasso is a musician who exemplifies talent and patience; he is an accomplished woodwind specialist and also a friend from my high school district-band days. Specializing in all of the wind instruments, including the saxophone family, this demanding career presents one with the unparalleled challenge of countless reeds. Despite his busy schedule, he was nice enough to share his thoughts during a recent purchase of a new oboe. Oboists are frequently loyal to their brand of instrument and it is refreshing to see someone explore multiple instrument maker choices; Joseph outlined his quest to find the best oboe for his doubling career which included the Loboe.

Below are his thoughts comparing instruments; I am most appreciative for his time and expertise. While he did not ultimately go with the Loboe for his needs, he made the right choice for his career needs so I won’t hold that against him! 
Be sure to check out his website to learn more about his incredible career!

The lower register was really "free" without being "flexible" - it might be because I am a doubler, but as a saxophonist generally if there is not enough resistance the tone goes crazy in the low register of the saxophone. This [Loboe] had a great mix of comfort and power, without losing any sense of tone. It was really remarkable in the low register.

The extreme high register was also really excellent. I am not sure if it was because the bottom joint adds a little extra wood to vibrate, but the F and above spoke cleanly with standard and short cut fingers. I preferred to use the back octave as the third octave was a bit sharp (but that could be because I am a saxophonist and have a tendency to bite the notes out) or maybe the vent was opening too much or too little.

The short version is really that the problem with [the Loboe] had nothing to do with the lower register, but everything to do with the left hand notes. A, B, C were very hard to play with any sense of focus/tune (they were oddly sharp and I'm not sure how to compensate for that because my older marigaux 901 was flat on b and c). When I switched the top joint, oddly enough, the instrument was really gorgeous (even though it looked hideous with a grenadilla top and violetwood bottom). The problem there was that the top joint was from different horn and of course was not set up to play the low A the right way (which was sort of sad because low makes everything more exciting).

I actually found this instrument to project very well, more so than the Howarth XL in cocobolo that I tried (which was also a very nice instrument). I just wish the pitch center was more stable! One other really cool thing about the low A was how easy B and Bb seemed to be in comparison. There is something really pretty about the 2nd to lowest note on oboe. I tried to pick the best oboe for someone who plays oboe every day, but maybe isn't trying to be in a major symphony.

I ended up picking the Buffet Orfeo (In green line) because it had a really covered/dark sound (very similar to the Laubin I tried) but also an extremely even scale (more even than the Yamaha Duet+ I tried as well). It does not offer quite as ... sparkly or shining of a tone, but I think I can try and alter my reeds a bit to get the instrument to sing. 

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