June 10, 2008 - Oboes handcrafted in Blairsville, Georgia USA
Oboists and symphony fans will be surprised to know that quality oboes are being carefully handcrafted right here in Blairsville, Georgia. These beautiful instruments, manufactured by Covey Oboes, are sold throughout the United States and other countries.
Previously located in Baltimore, and then Atlanta, Covey Oboes is known for their quality, professional instruments. The construction process at Covey Oboes is a fascinating process. The wood is chosen carefully. Most oboes (90%) are crafted from grenadilla wood (from Tanzania , Africa ). The dark wooden blocks are kept for at least ten years to season the wood before work begins. After seasoning, the blocks are turned and treated with oils. The joints and bells and other parts are all handmade at the Covey Oboe shop in Blairsville.
Assistant craftsman Rodrigo works carefully as he completes various steps in the manufacture of an oboe. Fine precision tools and instruments are arranged at various work stations. There is a specialized tool for each step. Owner Ginger Ramsay explains, "The majority of the work is in the making of key work."
According to the Covey website, "The Covey oboe is designed in response to the needs expressed by professional oboists. The bore shape, tone hole shapes, and locations are a result of Mr. Covey's research and close working relationship with a number of highly respected oboists. The result is an instrument with dark centered tone, excellent projection, flexible nuance, even scale, and sensitive linkage."
The oboe world is a close knit community where musicians gather regularly at festivals and conventions. When a professional oboist needs to purchase a new oboe or needs a repair (or part), they turn to Covey Oboes. Ramsay says, "We sell to individuals and to lots of symphony players. We also have a large repair following. Our clients come to Blairsville from all over the country. Hopefully they spend money and add to the local economy."
Covey Oboes was started by Paul Marshall Covey who passed away in January 2008. The business continues under the ownership of Ginger Ramsay. Ramsay is certainly qualified to be in the oboe business. She has a performing degree from Northwestern University (near Chicago ) and regularly subs for the Atlanta Symphony. Ramsay has been playing since childhood.
Ginger Ramsay started moving the business to Union County last summer. She says, "I wanted to be in a quieter environment and to be near my family." Blairsville, Georgia is fortunate to have Ms. Ramsay and Covey Oboes in Union County.