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David Fingerhut, Woodwind Repairs

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After completing a degree in French and music at the University of East Anglia, I initially went into the world of industry. I stayed the course a year, during which time I decided, through wanting to do something in the world of music, and having always enjoyed repairing things, to find somewhere to learn how to repair woodwind instruments. This led me in 1975 to seek an apprenticeship with the firm of ‘Ward and Winterbourn’, makers of oboes and cors anglais. I stayed with them for 7 years, acquiring a thorough grounding in all the techniques and tricks of the trade needed to master the craft of woodwind repair. The job helped me learn not just how to assemble and regulate an instrument or to do routine tasks like finding leaks, replacing pads or broken springs, but also to master the finer wood and metal craftsmanship required by more demanding tasks, such as making replacement keys, mending broken tenon joints, or undercutting tone holes to fine tune an instrument’s articulation. When the partnership of Tony Ward and Derek Winterbourn came to an end, I decided to try and make a go of working for myself. Happily, from that day to this, my work has come through word of mouth, and I continue to gain satisfaction from the craft of woodwind repair.

I’m an amateur clarinettist, and, to this day, I think that professional oboists, bassoonists and flautists find my playing of their instruments quite amusing! Although the sound I make is “interesting”, I try all instruments with a light touch to ensure that even my “light-fingered” players are happy!

 

My customers come from throughout the United Kingdom and abroad, so, although most people visit my workshop, it is also not unusual for me to be sent wind instruments by courrier. The musicians who use me come from the complete musical spectrum, from beginners to professionals, from orchestral to jazz. When it comes to working on their woodwind instruments I try to give them all the same attention to detail. I want all my customers to be entirely satisfied, and an important part of this process is communicating with the musician to understand their detailed requirements, as well as being extremely willing to address any of the small follow-up issues that very occasionally occur after a major overhaul.