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Miscellaneous Which beginner Oboe? (UK)


New Member
As a play-for-fun woodwind doubler (clarinet, alto sax and flute) I'd really like to try Oboe. I've always loved the sound and been intrigued by the instrument. Unfortunately it seems like very few people play it. Not many places hire out Oboes to try and they're very expensive so I'd like to get hold of a relatively cheap beginner Oboe to try (that I can resell if I don't get on with it, so at least I get some return on investment). Also so that I have more time to work with it without worrying about returning it.

Lots of people recommend Howarth S10s and new beginner Yamaha's but £800+ is a lot to drop on an instrument that I'm looking to try out and isn't my primary (at least to begin with). If I found I loved it I could always upgrade. I have found very few secondhand student Howarths and Yamahas for sale and they're still pretty pricey so I have come here for advice as unfortunately I don't know anyone who plays Oboe who I can ask.

So my question is, which of these cheaper second-hand beginner Oboes is the best of the bad bunch?

Bundy plastic Closed hole Thumbplate (likely about 40 years old with the B and F keys). I've heard that the conservatoire Bundy's aren't good but the Thumbplates are better and that closed hole and plastic is good for beginners but is this any good?

Various Buffets (wood and plastic I think, thumbplate, b and f keys but mostly open holed). I've seen mixed reviews on Buffets especially negative reviews of the Evettes so I'm thinking of steering clear of those however is an open hole Buffet better than the closed hole Bundy?

Rudall Carte. Open Holed b and f keys. My research suggested these are really old and are mostly open holed. Is this any better than the aforementioned instruments?

Various Boosey and Hawkes, open holed with f and b keys. Again mixed reviews, mostly older and open holed.

Any other suggestions I have missed that I should look out for?

Is it better to compromise on the closed holes and get a better make? I understand that plastic is recommended for beginners but is wood a good compromise for a better make? Is an open holed old Howarth (e.g. Howarth B) infinitely better than all of the above? A lot of the older instruments available seem to be open holed. Is is it better to go for whatever is newer to avoid issues or to focus on the make? Is it best to go for a better make such as a JP or Howarth and forgo the extra keywork to get a newer model?

Any suggestions or thoughts the above are welcome, especially what points to focus on. I know none of the aforementioned Oboes are going to be groundbreaking but I'm trying to work out which aspects are most important for compromising with a beginner Oboe.
The price difference between these and some of the fancier models is the difference between trying Oboe or not for me currently. As mentioned before, if I loved it I could upgrade.



Senior Member
Renting from Howarth is probably your best option, if you don’t like it you lose the money but 3 months gives you a reasonable amount of time to figure out if you want to continue and if you buy from them you get 3 months of rental off the purchase price.

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
I have friends who are oboists... it's not a cheap instrument - it's only saving grace is bassoons are more expensive. There is a bassoonist here who as a double reed player may have more insight...


Too many mouthpieces
Café Supporter
Bristol, UK
If it was me, I would find an oboe teacher and ask them.

ABRSM and IDRS both seem to have oboe forums. ABRSM would be a good place to start.
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