Why Joe Walsh Abandoned Oboe For Guitar
Joe Walsh recalled his decision to start playing the oboe while he was at school, and the reason he abandoned it in favor of the guitar.
The Eagles icon began on clarinet before exploring the music world further; but, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, the cons outweighed the pros in the world of woodwind instruments.
“I started out on one of those awful old metal clarinets that the public school would provide for you,” Walsh said. “The mouthpiece smelled horrible, the squeak would upset your pets… I decided that I would play oboe; and I wanted to play oboe because the whole orchestra tunes up to the oboe… because the double reed is the purest waveform.”
Orchestras usually tune to the A above middle C, which has a frequency of 440Hz and is often known as “A440.” “Except!” Walsh continued. “You really do have to develop your mouth muscles to play an oboe. It’s called embouchure – I would have to play an A440 for about a minute and a half for the orchestra to tune up for assembly in high school. Depending on what part of the minute-and-a-half you tuned up to… I’d be done about 45 seconds into it and I’d get progressively flatter. So the orchestra sounded pretty bad with me giving them the note to tune up to. But I didn’t care, because I always got out of homeroom.”
He continued: “At some point I discovered, ‘Joe, you’re not gonna get any girls playing oboe.’ And I decided I would do a guitar. Not because I wanted to play guitar, but because my parents hated that I was gonna play guitar and stop oboe. That was a good enough idea for me to pick a guitar up. And I found I could express myself, and the stuff that was in me would come out when I picked up a guitar. And I never got any girls playing guitar either – but I hard a darn good time.”
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