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'll be applying decades of practical,
mechanical experience in weeding out and pointing up these potential
Being a player too I'll 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
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. As we say round here - "Before you
blow it - bung it on the bench!"