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The Howarth S2 oboe - a brief history!

by Administrator 6. March 2012 14:59

The Howarth S2 oboe was made from 1948 – when T Howarth started manufacturing oboes - up until the mid 1990s. This thumbplate model was extremely popular when the ‘norm’ for oboes was open-hole construction; its decline owing to improvements and general acceptance of the covered hole. These days learners and manufacturers favour the covered hole system – certainly many find it easier to play. Despite this, there is an argument that those who learn on an open hole instrument develop a better hand technique.

There still is a place for this beloved oboe. It was exceptionally well made. The African Blackwood out of which the instruments were made was seasoned for many years before being shaped to very precise design specifications. All the instrument keys were handmade and fitted to the instrument by hand - some oboe keys were even made of solid silver! The instrument was tested and tuned, with final adjustments made by Howarth’s highly skilled craftsmen.

While no longer made, it remains a professional standard oboe. Most importantly it is still capable of producing a traditional English sound.

In recent years professionals have favoured heavier instruments like the S5 model and above. The thicker body produces a darker sound, but it also makes the oboe a bigger instrument to play – quite physically tiring for the amateur player!

Howarth’s oboe construction has inevitably evolved over the years, the S2 has a thinner body than modern oboes, but it presents a manageable and easy blow. So there are many advantages to the S2 in the current market.

Because the new market now favours covered hole you can find yourself an exceptional Howarth S2, for a very good price. It competes well with modern wooden student instruments; it is made to a much higher specification. It is light, durable and as it has less keywork maintenance is simpler and it is easier to play for longer periods.

Howarth S2 on client sale

John Packer Ltd currently has three Howarth S2 oboes available for sale.  All of which have been serviced by our experienced workshop. Please click here to view the double reed department. To arrange a trial, please call 01823 282386 option 1.


This oboe is only £950 and has been fully repadded by our workshop!