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How to Assemble Your Oboe

Oboe in parts lying on table.
Oboe assembled on stand with arrows pointing to top joint, bottom joint, and bell.

The Parts of Your Oboe

There are three parts to your oboe, the top joint, the bottom joint, and the bell.

These parts have keys and rod systems that must be correctly aligned to make sure your oboe plays properly. Oboes may have more or less keys depending on the instrument maker and the targeted user (i.e. Students will often play using a simplified system).

Your oboe also requires a reed, which consists on two pieces of cane bound to a staple. The reed is inserted into the top of the top joint.

The Process

Oboe reed being placed in small glass with water in it.

1. Before you start putting your oboe together, soak your reed in a small amount of water for 2-3 minutes. Room temperature is best.

One hand resting on keys of bottom joint and other hand on cork cap.

2. Firstly, we will put the bell on the bottom joint. When holding the bottom joint, gently place your hand over the keys, making sure you avoid putting pressure on the keys and rod systems. Excessive pressure will cause the keys to warp over time.

3. If the joints do not slide on with ease, avoid forcing the parts together. Instead apply an even layer of cork grease to the corked section on the bottom joint. 

4. Push the parts together, twisting back and forth as required. 

5. If your instrument has the low Bb extension, ensure the articulation bridge key is aligned correctly. 

6. Place your bottom joint and bell with the keys aligned towards the left on a steady surface.

7. Take your top joint and hold it towards the top of the joint, again making sure not to apply pressure to any keys or rod systems. Remove the cork cap and apply cork grease.

8. With your hand on the bottom of the bell beneath the keywork and your other hand on top joint, twist the top joint onto the bottom joint without putting pressure on the keywork. Similarly, do not force the joints together and apply cork grease as required. 

9. When assembling these sections, be mindful of the articulation bridge keys. It is VERY important that these bridge keys are correctly aligned. If your oboe does not sound correctly, check these keys first. 

10. Take your reed that has been soaked and apply cork grease to the bottom two thirds of the staple. When putting your reed into the top joint, make sure you do not touch the cane part of the reed. Hold the binding, or the top of the cork. 

11. Twist and push the reed in until it is all the way in and aligned. There should be about 1cm of cork visible after inserting the reed. 

Congratulations! Your oboe is all set up and ready to be played!

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