Little Geese: The Ocarina Forum

Oberon Ocarinas
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Author:  Krešimir [ 01 May 2013, 14:40 ]
Post subject:  Re: Oberon Ocarinas

Ross Dubois wrote:
Hello folks,

After a couple years and hundreds of ocarinas later, I am happy to announce that I am, well, 'open for business'. I will post a few on ebay once in a while if I can but as it stands, these ocarinas are made on an 'as ordered' basis. So if you would like to place an order, just shoot me an email. Please refer to the first post for all information on my current line of ocarinas.
Thank you all so much for all the support and help youve given me up till now, I cant say thanks enough!

Great news! I want one! :o

Author:  Robert Hickman [ 02 May 2013, 11:16 ]
Post subject:  Re: Oberon Ocarinas

Congratulations Ross, the results of your sagger firing really are utterly stunning!

Author:  Achint [ 11 May 2013, 09:10 ]
Post subject:  Re: Oberon Ocarinas

I didn't know where to put my review of Ross' Alto C so I'll just put up the post here.
I hope the mods don't mind splitting it if the post is wrongly placed.

Alto C by Oberon Ocarinas


This ocarina is the first of Ross’ ocarinas to hit the market and is an absolute gorgeous piece of art as well as a musical instrument. It
is in the style of a transverse ocarina, with a pitch range of A4 to F6.

Overall it is one of the best ocarinas in its category that I have played till date.
For me, it is extremely comfortable to hold and the sound is the perfect mix between chiffy and pure. In terms of comparison, it falls in between the sound of a Spencer, Menaglio and a Focalink, but offers the robust tonal character of a Menaglio or a Tytoalba (high breath model).

Ordering Process and Packaging

Ross gifted this ocarina to me and he asked me to test it for him and provide feedback.
I just want to thank Ross for giving me the honour of trying one of his first marketable ocarinas and even sending a gift along with it, in the form of an older Oberon! (The older Oberon just simply, does not compare.)

The ocarina came in a cloth saddle bag, wrapped with a rag, which was wrapped around another rag. There was plenty of ‘large bubble’ bubble wrap in the box to keep the ocarina safe.

Along with the ocarina was a note explaining how to play the ocarina, the breath curve and some modification options that I will details below.

The ocarina was well packed and reached me intact.

The newer and older model side-by-side atop the note


This is where the ocarina instantly grabbed my attention. I didn’t even play it and I was infatuated with it.
Love at first sight is a bit of a dumb term, so let’s just call it “I don’t know you, you might be a terrible person and you may have buried babies in your back yard, but by God, you’re hot.”

The front of the ocarina is chaotic and awesome looking. Marble with remnants of charcoal, algae, mother of pearl and red chalk is what it looked like to me when I saw it.
In pictures, the ocarina appeared shiny and glazed, but it was probably just the lighting. The ocarina itself is in fact matte finished.

Image of the front

At the back of the ocarina, there is a patch towards the tail, where the name ‘SPICA’ has been engraved into the clay. I find it simply awesome that the saggar firing effect has caused the tail of the ocarina to be black with white specks, making it look like stars embedded onto a night sky. Since Spica is the name of a star, this is relevant.
There is an Oberon logo beneath the ramp surrounding the labium and Ross’ initials “RD” towards the ‘head’ of the ocarina (opposite side of the tail).
There is also a number ‘13’ on the head. Not sure of the significance of that.

Image of the back

In terms of length, the ocarina is roughly 16 cm/6 inches long and in width it is roughly 8.5 cm/4 inches.
I noted the thumb holes to be bigger than other ocarinas I’ve played, and it is infact about 4mm wider in diameter than my Tytoalba AC, which is about as loud.


One of the most comfortable ocarinas to hold.
As I mentioned earlier, Ross had sent me one of his older models and I’m extremely glad he updated it. The older model had a shorter body and the ergonomics reminded me so much of the Focalink AC-A, which I didn’t like. It forced the wrist to cock at an awkward angle for me and made playing for more than 10 minutes slightly painful.

Ross’ new model fixes that and makes the instrument about performance. The wrists face each other while playing and are not turned to an uncomfortable position.

The long end of the ocarina allows my pinky to wrap around during passages where the high E and F need to be played and provides stability.
The space around the right thumbhole has also been flattened to provide extra support for the thumb. This allows the right thumb to be unaffected by the ocarinas curvature.

Initially, I had a bit of difficulty in making sure I did not cover the right hand subhole. I felt both subholes were a little too close to the parent hole.
However, I just attributed this to the fact that I have large hands and by playing the ocarina more and getting used to where my fingers need to land, the problem rectified itself.

Sound and Playability

This ocarina falls into the pitch range of an alto C ocarina. It plays from A4 to F6.

As far as the sound goes, it is robust & passionate. It has the crisp definition from note to note, much like a Spencer, with the slight chiffy texture of a Menaglio.
The breath curve however, is somewhere in the middle, and intuitive.

The jump in breath per note, is not too high for me, however sustaining notes for long stretches, especially in the upper register, can get slightly taxing if you don’t breathe right.
Once again, just learning the breath curve and more importantly, the piece I was playing helped me breathe better and play the ocarina to the point where it sung beautifully.
(I have to add that getting fitter in terms of my actual, physical health has helped a lot with this.)

Now, this is where I feel it is appropriate to mention the modification options that Ross has added to the ocarina.
First off, there is a tuning hole on the outside, next to the windway. The tuning hole is, at the moment, sealed with glue.
Should I feel at any point that the breath curve is too high, I simply drill through the glue and it will lower the breath curve across the board.
However, I really like the way the ocarina sounds right now and even though it is slightly high, I just need to know the tunes I’m playing better and it all works out fine.

One of the reasons I’m hesitant to drill through the glue is because the subholes are freaking marvelous (Maybe even enough to convince Jack Campin :p) and lowering the breath curve means making them not as boisterous as they are. So yea, no. I’ll fix my technique and make the ocarina work for me over compromising its amazing tone.

The other thing Ross mentioned was that the High F is ‘pushable’. This means that were I to drill the glued hole and further reduce the breath curve by opening up all the holes a bit, then the ocarina will be able to take it.
I’m really loving the customization options available to us as consumers and players.

No acute bend is required for the ocarina right throughout the range. The tone is consistent all the way from the Low A to the High F, at no point does the texture change.
And those subholes. Mmmmm. Tasty. The sound sample has a demonstration of the subholes as well because they are just so gosh darn impressive.

The one thing I will say that I am considering a flaw, although it really isn't is that the sound of air gushing off the ramp exit is a little too loud. I was recording the ocarina earlier and a minor adjustment to the positioning of the microphone made the sound of air flowing out of the ocarina pretty loud. You can't really hear it at a distance and as a player you sort of hear it. But it's tough to record the ocarina with that quality.
But this is really me nitpicking and trying to find a flaw. So yea :p It doesn't really bother me. I just need to position the mic differently, more or less.

Final Thoughts

For anyone who’s read my anecdotal ‘wall of text’ post, Ross’ ocarinas is one of those ocarinas that I absolutely want to learn everything about and want to cherish for a very long time to come.
The amount of work put into this ocarina is just mind boggling and the proof is in the pudding.
It’s an amazing sounding and playing ocarina and gorgeous to boot. I’m hoping that someday I own a full set of whatever ocarinas Ross releases and that he keeps this standard of production for his entire career as an ocarina maker.

Here is the basic sound sample. My microphone was being craptastic for some reason, so I'll be posting a full recording probably on Sunday or Monday when I go down to my 'office'.

Author:  Bas [ 11 May 2013, 13:16 ]
Post subject:  Re: Oberon Ocarinas

Thanks for the review! We do expect reviews of a maker's ocarinas to be posted in their respective topics, so you did well in that regard.

Author:  Achint [ 11 May 2013, 14:09 ]
Post subject:  Re: Oberon Ocarinas

Alright, great.

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