Baritone Sax-oboe in Eb, Cabart,the only known example.

  • ALWAYS warm up both joints of the instrument under your arms (under your shirt/jacket) before playing for a FULL five minutes, regardless of what the outside or inside temperature may be. Pretend you are "hatching" the joints. Remember that even if the room temperature is 72F degrees (for example), you will be blowing air into the instrument with a 98F temperature. It is sudden changes in temperature that will encourage an instrument to crack.
  • NEVER use alcohol of any description (for example: Isopropyl Alcohol, aka: "rubbing alcohol") to clean a plastic oboe!
  • Treating the bore: I only use "WOODWIND ALL" made by Chem-Pak. An extremely thin viscosity synthetic chemical aerosol. No preparation is required. If "Woodwind All" gets on the pads, it is in fact good for the pads. Hold the joint level, spray "Woodwind All" into the bore for about 9-10 seconds, then rotate the joint ever so slowly, say one rotation per minute, 360 degrees, for about 8 minutes. Make sure that the chemical works its way into the tone hole chimneys. It may be necessary to "yaw" the joint when tones holes face the floor so that the chemical will transit up into the tone holes. If the chemical gets on the exterior wood, simply wipe off with a soft cloth. The chemical will not leave any stains on the wood. When finished with the treatment, place joint up against a wall, as nearly upright as possible, with a piece of cardboard underneath to catch excess chemical. Let dry overnight. Sometimes (though rarely) you may need to poke though the octave vents with a thin stiff wire. "WOODWIND ALL" very much helps eliminate "gurgling" in the octave vents and the vents for B# (C) and A# (Bb) on the upper joints of oboe instruments. "WOODWIND ALL" will also help prevent cracking, though you still must warm up the instrument every time before playing underarm. I do not use natural oils in oboe instrument bores, as I find it tends to build up ("cake") inside the bore over time. And natural oils ferment, and the result can be a "musty" odor emanating from the instrument.
  • Use pure lanolin instead of cork grease on the tenon joint corks! Regular cork grease builds up a residue. Find lanolin at local drugstore (sold as a maternity aid).
  • Swab out the upper joint of the instrument out during long rests! Use a SOFT 100% cotton swab only. Silk simply does not absorb moisture as well, and feathers only spread the moisture around. Pull the swab GENTLY into the upper joint of the instrument. Stop at the least hint of resistance to your pull. DO NOT pull the swab "tight!" Pulling the swab "hard tight" with excessive force into the upper joint can: 1) become stuck! 2) over time, abrade the walls of the bore and cause subtle changes in voicing.
  • Once every two weeks take an artist's brush with natural soft China bristles (example: "Rubberset" 1150 #4) and swish out the all of the dust which accumulates around and under all the keys, posts, hinge tubes, and pads.
  • Always soak your reeds in hydrogen peroxide after you have finished playing. This process kills the "biology projects" responsible for breaking down the cell walls of the cane and thus extends the useful life of the reeds substantially.
  • Lubricate the key-work every six months. The best oil to use in my experience is the synthetic lubricating oil made by "Prolong". It is sold in "needle oiler" form at auto parts stores.
  • After swabbing the instrument when you have finished playing, wipe off ALL of the keys and mechanism with a treated polishing cloth before putting the oboe back in the case. This will make the silver plating on the oboe last almost forever (and keep it from tarnishing).
  • Learn the alternate fingerings for the English horn. They will become second nature quickly. Most useful! You can use most alternate fingerings on oboe as well.
  • Do not drop the instrument! NEVER leave the oboe lying across a chair of any description under ANY circumstances! NEVER hold the oboe EXCEPT by the bottom joint! NEVER leave your oboe unattended for ANY reason! Oboes are expensive, and have an alarming tendency to "disappear" when your back is turned!
  • Install a "Jupiter" brand adjustable clarinet thumb-rest (truly inexpensive.) Adjust the thumb-rest for maximum comfort...

Enjoy! Playing the English horn will help oboe tone...