Over the last 9 months 4 of my students have been handed brand new Nobel brand oboes by their school or youth orchestra organization. The instruments had modified-conservatory key work, so we were excited for an upgrade for the students! In that time each instrument needed to be sent to the repair shop repeatedly. I DO NOT recommend the purchase these instruments based on these first-hand experiences my students have had.
I’ll attempt to catalog the problems students had with the oboes and compare them to other instrument brands my many beginner and intermediate students have used in the past 10 years:
First, the keywork on these oboes is an incredibly light alloy which bends incredibly easily. Although I carefully supervised and showed my students how to assemble their instruments, each of the 4 instruments suffered at least one bent key in its first 4 months of being played. The metal is so soft that very little force is required to bend a key. Even if plenty of cork grease is applied, these instruments in the hands of beginners are likely to be bent out of shape before the beginner learns their first piece and prevent the student from playing all the required notes.
I have never had beginners bend keys at this rate when playing standard Yamaha and Selmer beginner oboes, so my thought is that the metal alloy used for the keywork is the problem.
Second, the pads on all 4 oboes have been prone to falling off. Typically I see pads fall off oboes which are stored improperly, or which have been in use by a program for multiple years. These are nearly new oboes which are treated quite delicately by the students and still have had pads fall off with alarming regularity. So is the glue improperly applied? Or is the glue just of poor quality? I’m not sure. Pads should not fall off a nearly new oboe.
Finally, on at least 2 instruments I’ve seen, springs have either failed or rusted within the first 9 months of use. I’m accustomed to the idea that springs have a finite life, but that lifespan should be more than 9 months, and they certainly shouldn’t rust under normal use in those 9 months.
Overall Quality Assessment
With the repeated repair appointments for pads falling off, springs failing, and bent keys, the expected budget for maintenance on these oboes will likely be incredibly high, and programs would be better off purchasing a usedintermediate-level Fox, Yamaha, or Howarth oboe for their programs.
I know budgets are tight, and you want to provide your advancing oboe players with instruments that have left F’s and low Bb keys, but please don’t flush your precious instrument budget dollars right down the toilet with these cheap, cut-rate instruments. In the long term, they’ll cost more in maintenance than they did at purchase.
Until next week,
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