Stephen Howard Woodwind - Repairs, reviews, advice, tips and tales...
Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals
Reviews from the repairer's workbench
Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals


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.
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 problems.
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 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. As we say round here - "Before you blow it - bung it on the bench!"












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