Stepping Up the


Stepping Up
the OBOE

After playing oboe for a few years, a beginning player often begins to enhance the sound of their student-level instrument with better reeds. However, if the student has done this, is taking private lessons, or playing more advanced music, it may be time to upgrade the entire instrument. Designed with higher quality materials, a step-up oboe produces a more refined sound than its student-level counterpart. The Grenadilla wood body helps produce this richer sound. Modified or Full Conservatory system keys give the instrument an expanded range, and provide extra fingering options for advancing musicians. Undercut tone holes help players improve their technique.

Grenadilla Wood

Undercut Tone Holes

Left-Hand F Key

Low Bb Key

Characteristics to Consider

Type of Wood: Most stepup oboes are made out of Grenadilla wood, an African Blackwood known for its rich, dark tone. It is also a very strong wood, which makes it more durable and resistant to cracks. Many step-up oboes, especially at an intermediate level, include parts made from composite wood. Composite wood may change the tone of the oboe but is known for its ability to withstand temperature and humidity changes.

Modified or Full Conservatory System Keys: Most student-level oboes do not include a left-hand “F” key or low “Bb.” However, as a student begins playing more advanced music, they typically need these keys to expand the range of notes. A good intermediate level oboe will have all the keys necessary for a student to continue advancing. In addition to expanding the instrument’s range, extra keys also offer more fingering options. This helps the player switch notes faster and increase their skill and ability.

Undercut Tone Holes: Tone holes on many step-up oboes are created with an advanced manufacturing technique called undercutting. This feature improves intonation and instrument response. It also helps the instrument sound more in-tune with itself and blend better in an ensemble. 

Contact Us About Upgrading Your Oboe

It is important to decide which of these features is most valuable to you as a player. The best way to do this is to try a wide variety of step-up oboes. At Menchey Music Service, we have upgraded oboes from from the reputable brands Yamaha and Buffet. We are ready to help you find the right fit!