I will do any type of repair to the modern oboe family of instruments.
This will range from simple adjustments and setting up to full restorations. I make one-off pieces of keywork when needed and often add a thumbplate and a third octave key to an instrument. On many occasions I have been asked to modify the shape, position or size of keywork so as to be more comfortable in the hands or to make life easier for older players when fingers and wrists are no longer as suple as they once were. I have also modified instruments for (usually) children who were maybe born with restricted movement in their hands, or with hands not fully developed.
The most common repairs I do are of course to do with pads, springs and corks. Many of my customers bring their instruments to me every year for a ‘service’. This consists of a total strip down of the oboe, a thorough cleaning of everything (keywork, screws, toneholes, octave pipes, body etc), the replacement of any worn pads, springs and corks, and the final setting up of the instrument – ensuring it not only plays correctly, but that it also ‘feels’ right in the hands. The balancing of spring tensions can make a huge difference to the comfort and pleasure of playing an instrument and I always like to spend a little time with the player when the instrument is finished so as to make sure that the work I have done suits them.
When instruments have had many years of use, the silver plating starts to wear. When this happens, the metal beneath the silver (usually nickel silver) starts to erode. Resilvering is then required. Although I do not get involved in the actual silvering process, (lots of poisonous chemicals etc), I do all the preparation required before silvering and even the wiring of components in preparation for the electro-plating process, ensuring a good electrical contact with minimum marking of the key. The preparation work usually involves resurfacing the piece of keywork so that any wear or erosion is removed. The keywork is then filed and polished to make it appear and feel ‘finished’ prior to the silver being applied. It is a time consuming process and therefore not cheap, but the results can be astonishing.
The reeds I make are based on those made by Peter Wiggins.
Two versions of the reed are made, one with red binding; my ‘Standard Oboe Reed’, with the wire midway between the top of the binding and the bottom of the scrape – the most effective position for the wire, and the other with burgundy binding; my ‘York Oboe Reed’, as supplied to Howarths, with the wire slightly closer to the binding – this can be more comfortable for people who put a little more reed in the mouth.
Both styles are made in strengths med/soft, medium, med/hard and currently cost £16.00 .
When I make reeds, I scrape them until they work – this may sound obvious, but I will make a batch of reeds, test and scrape regularly over a few days and finally when I’m happy that they are playing and responding well, only then will I grade them into the various strengths. This way, I’m not forcing a piece of cane to be ‘a hard reed’ or ‘a soft reed’, I am simply allowing the cane to respond in the way it most naturally wants to. I believe that this method produces better sounding reeds and ones that will last longer.
With this method of making, it is not possible for me to do ‘recanes’ – sorry.
Instrument Sales and ‘Commission’ Sales
Along with new and refurbished instruments, I also sell oboes for people on a ‘commission’ basis.
The price will be discussed with the seller so as be realistic about an instruments value and any work required to put the oboe into good playing order will be carried out prior to offering the instrument up for sale. Sometimes it can be necessary to do a significant amount of work on the instrument as I only like to sell instruments that I have confidence in.
Owners will not be expected put any money into the instrument ‘up front’, as the cost of any work done will be deducted from the settlement figure when the instrument sells, along with the sales commission of 15% of the selling price. (Minimum commission is £75).
Most accessories for the oboe player are usually available.
I try and keep a small selection of items including tuners and metronomes, reed cases and oboe cases & covers, reed making tools and materials, mops, pull-throughs, oboe (and cor) stands, special thumbrests, slings and supports etc etc
I will also make ‘one off’ items if necessary eg: spike support for bass oboe.
Any requests, please ‘phone me and we can discuss your requirements and hopefully find a solution.
“Peter Davies is regarded as one of the finest oboe repairers in the country.
He started repairing all woodwinds in 1974 after being trained by the master oboe maker Louis Rousseau. After a very short period of time it was obvious to Peter that the only woodwind he was really interested in was the modern orchestral oboe ( and its larger family members). As time went on, many professional players trusted and respected his craftsmanship and today most of the players in the major UK orchestras have used his services at some time.
Apart from the normal repairs ( pads, springs and corks) Peter’s passion has always been keywork modifications and additions. “the aesthetics of an oboe are part of its soul and it is so important to make any keywork in keeping with the way the original maker would have done”. His empathy with players enables him to make an instrument ‘fit’ a players hands making the playing experience much more comfortable. Sometimes modifications are made to instruments to make them more manageable after an accident or just when the player is reaching the time of life when the physical demands of the instrument start to reduce the playing pleasure.
Whilst repairing and testing oboes, Peter always found something about Rigoutat oboes that seamed to suit him, and approached the Rigoutat company in the late 1980′s who agreed to him being a supplier of their instruments. Since then, he has become well known for his enthusiasm for their fine instruments”.