Monday, January 27, 2014

Take care of your oboe in the cold!

Hi All-

If you live in, or travel to, cold climates, this post is for you! As a write,  our standing temperature outside in Eau Claire, WI is a balmy -9 F/ -22 C and a wind chill (what the temp ACTUALLY feels like due to blowing winds) of -35 F / -37 C.

That's just plain cold.  Even for beautiful Eau Claire, WI,  where we expect a formidable winter climate. Many of the schools in our region, including the University of Minnesota, have closed for the day due to the cold,  but not the hardy folks at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire!

At this point you may be asking,  HOW DO I KEEP MY OBOE WARM? Well,  "warm" is a relative term,  so the most important thing I REALLY have to think about is minimizing sudden temperature CHANGE.  So how do I MINIMIZE TEMPERATURE CHANGE inside the case?

Great question, dear reader!   I came up with this affordable winter layering"set-up" a few years ago and it has proven to be quite successful (and costs less that $10 dollars!)

First, I put my oboe case in an insulated down vest (I found this one used at a local Saver's store for a few bucks and first wore it as part of a Halloween costume). This extra insulation minimizes heat loss.

Next, I put the "vested" oboe in a "Hot/Cold" mylar bag that I purchased at my local grocery store (in the US they often sell these by the freezer section).  This this bag minimizes heat loss and traps in air.

For the final layer,  I put all of the above into my Altieri insulated case.  I've used these cases for years and love, LOVE, LOVE the waterproof outer layer, the insulation that is enough for all but our extremely cold winters, and for the overall durability of the bag. 

I keep a small thermometer in my case to measure heat loss and have been impressed with the results. For example, on a recent commute to work that included a  bus ride and 15 minute walk  during a -10 F day only resulted in a 10 degree F change in temperature INSIDE the bag.   Not bad if you ask me!

So how are all of you keeping warm and safe this winter?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Oboe and out,

The Oboist

ps,  there are a few perks to living up here.  For one,  the amazing opportunity to go birding and watch Arctic snowy owls like this one here:
Exquisite, huh?


  1. I heard John Mack say that he had a lambswool satchel made to carry his oboe between buildings, and out to the car in Ohio. That would work as well.

  2. Hi Rebecca-
    Oooh-A lambswool satchel sounds lovely! My contraption isn't as fancy, but it did work for today's -22 wind chills! Thanks for the comment and hoping for warmer days...-CG

  3. This will keep your oboe warm!

    I'm a knitter and an oboist; I love combining the two. Send me a message for custom orders.

  4. In winter, I warm up the oboe BEFORE putting in the case which seems to help a lot. My gig bag is only leather with a bit of bubble wrap to cushion the compartment. Also, I pack it in the gig bag so it does not contact the floor of my car. I never put it on the seat; too afraid I might have to stop suddenly & it would fly off. I suppose a mesh bag of some kind could be used to secure it with seat belts would also help.

  5. If ever you had to send your oboe on a cross country trip (moving from west coast to east coast for example), what is the safest way to get it here that you can suggest (I was unable to bring it with me, and can't currently afford going back to get it from my mom's house)..... would shipping it thru fedex or something be alright if it was packaged properly?

  6. Absolutely! I ship my oboes all the time for repair/overhaul, etc. You can safely ship your instrument via UPS, FedEx, and USPS--just put it in a box with at least 3inches of packing materials around it. Insure your package if your homeowner's insurance or other instrument insurance doesn't cover shipping.