In the reviews section I'll be taking a closer look at a wide variety
of woodwinds as and when they arrive on the workbench.
I've no doubt that there are plenty of sites out on the web that publish
instrument reviews, but on the whole these will be almost entirely from
a playing perspective. That's fair enough, after all that's the function
of an instrument - to be played - and the manner in which it fulfils that
function is its prime feature. That function, however, needs to be underpinned
by a physical structure that is capable of supporting the needs and desires
of the player over a potentially lengthy period of time.
As a repairer my role is to maintain that physical structure, so it should
come as no surprise that my reviews will tend to focus on that aspect
as opposed to the performance issues.
It's all good and well to publish a review of an instrument that seems
to play well and feel good under the fingers - but will it play that well
and feel that good in years to come? What seems like a minor issue in
a horn's early years could turn into a major issue somewhere down the
line - and I shall be applying decades of practical, mechanical experience
in weeding out and pointing up these potential problems.
Being a player too I will give a general summary of my impressions as
to an instrument's playability - though it must be borne in mind that
these are always bound to be mere opinions. For every player that says
such-and-such an instrument plays badly there will be at least one other
who thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread...except perhaps for
a few commonly regarded "nasties".
The review process itself consists of three sections: An initial overview,
taking into account the general appearance and features of an instrument;
the workbench section, where instruments will be wholly or partially stripped
down and a closer look taken at the build and mechanisms; and lastly a
summing up of how all the pros and cons merge together, taking into account
the instrument's target clientele.
Armed with all this information the prospective buyer will be better
able to make a more informed choice as to which particular instrument
meets their requirements.