Clarinet Vs Oboe – Difference Between Oboe And Clarinet Explained

clarinet vs oboe sound

What is an oboe and a clarinet? Oboe vs clarinet, both instruments are classified within the woodwind family.

The oboe is an instrument with a double reed embouchure and a long cylindrical wooden body, with conical internal perforation and up to 23 holes. It produces a unique tone, perfect for solo lines and highlights.

For its part, the clarinet is an instrument that has a mouthpiece with a single reed that is fixed on an opening in the mouthpiece located on a simple cylindrical wooden reed with a cylindrical inner perforation and about 17 or 20 holes that end in a flared pavilion. It produces an incredible, sweet, and powerful sound that covers a very wide range.

Sometimes it is possible not to know how to distinguish the differences between instruments that work on the same principle. In this blog, we will discover the main differences between Oboe vs. Clarinet so that the next time you see or listen to them, you will have no problem recognizing/differentiating one from the other.

Info Guide

Differences and Similarities Between Oboe and Clarinet Differences

Oboe Vs Clarinet Sound:

The oboe has a timbre characterized by an excellent sound and a very clear and somewhat nasal, expressive, and very soft sound. On the other hand, the clarinet produces softer and more relaxing sounds. It goes up to the strongest and most aggressive, using the lowest and highest notes to reflect all the passion and inner feeling.

This is due to the difference in their embouchure and interior perforations. The oboe has a double-reed mouth, while the clarinet has a single-reed mouth. Besides, the oboe, with its conical inner perforation, emits thanks to the vibration of the reed that acts as a tube through which the air enters; it can execute the characteristic nasal sound.

On the other hand, the clarinet, with its cylindrical inner perforation, can produce more classic sounds, less strident and more subtle, with a “velvety’ and warm sound. The Clarinet vs oboe sound is quite different.

clarinet like instruments

Learning and Control:

These attributes make another important difference. The oboe is a slightly more complex instrument and more challenging to control due to its double reed embouchure. On the other hand, the clarinet turns out to be a much friendlier instrument for learning and progress. This is one of the biggest difference between clarinet and oboe.

Shaping and maintenance:

The oboe is divided into five sections: the reed, the staple, the bell, the lower joint, and the upper joint. These pieces must fit into a precise alignment for play to be possible. In contrast, the clarinet consists of four fundamental parts: mouthpiece barrel, upper and lower body, and pavilion. The coupling of these parts must also be precise for proper tuning.

To be the best at playing each instrument, it is necessary to know all the parts’ usual names and what function they perform. Learn how each part can be removed and replaced for proper service and maintenance and what to do if a part is suspected of being damaged or broken.



Oboe vs clarinet both instruments are classified in the same woodwind category and have a highly similar appearance. Therefore the same working principle blowing through the embouchure and altering the notes using keys with the fingers. They are so similar that…

• Both instruments can provide functions both as a soloist, within an instrumental group, or in an orchestra.

• Both are very expressive instruments capable of making a melody stand out and at the same time being able to blend very well within a section to the point that it is very common for them to play simultaneously as a grouping.

• The oboe and clarinet are very versatile; they can be very agile with fast and short notes at the same time, they can sustain a long and expressive note.

what is an oboe instrument
Clarinet In It’s Case

Costs and variety:

Keep in mind that both oboes and clarinets are as individual instruments as the people who play them, and there is no “right” or “wrong” choice when selecting your instrument. If the oboe or clarinet sounds good, you play well, and you feel comfortable with the purchase, then gather your information and trust your own opinion; after all. This is up to you.

The important thing is to have the instrument that allows the development and improvement of skills and abilities. Both instruments have models that can fit your basic needs according to your budget.

Manufacturers of these instruments develop a variety of models ranging from student level to professional level. They use wood for materials such as ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).

A highly shock-resistant amorphous plastic or thermoplastic with great physical-mechanical properties known as “engineering plastic” because of its difficult manufacture. However, the wooden ones are usually the best in all respects. In that sense, they offer:

Economic options

The plastic ones are the most recommended for beginners. They are generally entry-level instruments primarily focused on children or adults who are just starting their studies and do not want to invest a large amount in the instrument itself. They generally do not include all the keys and accessories needed for more advanced performance.

The plastic gives the instrument great resistance, hardness, and toughness. All this without neglecting the good sound of the instrument Today, many brands based on ABS material think their instruments for categories of students and professionals.

Keep in mind that everything is a process and learning to play oboe and clarinet is no exception. To learn to run. we first learned to sit; then we crawl, then we learned to stand until we took the first steps

After a while, after we acquired some stability and security, we gave our first races, for these players are the next-level instruments.

clarinet and oboe
Clarinet Band

Medium or professional level options

Considering the above, manufacturers have also developed higher-level instruments. The range is wide, and the difference concerning those designed for beginners is clearly remarkable, but so is the price. Hence…

The brand determines the price.

Now, considering that most brands think of their Oboe and Clarinet instruments for both beginner/student and professional categories, prices are based on that.

Generally, oboes tend to be more expensive than clarinets:

• The cheapest in both instruments are those designed for beginners and range between $150 – $700; the difference will always be the brand and its recognition.

• Keeping the arguments described above, in the case the most expensive in both instruments, are designed for professionals and range between $3650 – $25000.

The suggested option

Prices for oboes and intermediate clarinets range from $700 – $3650. It is the option of oboes and clarinets that achieve a very precise tuning Technically. They have the same technical characteristics of the professional line so that musicians can learn by playing an instrument with professional sound at a reasonable price, In addition to allowing the student to improve to the intermediate level without having to change instruments. Think about it!

Is the oboe the hardest instrument to play?

It is not the most difficult to play, but it is difficult, and few people play it very well. It takes a lot to master the technique of its control by lips and mouth, which depends on getting a good sound; it is a very sensitive instrument delicate to play, you have to take good care of it!

Later in musical groups, it is a preferred instrument because it can be very constructive. Still, the interpreter must be very skilled and technical to fit well into the repertoire.

clarinets and oboes

Should I play clarinet or oboe?

It depends on the sound you want to make it stand out. Each instrument has its own sonic characteristics. Depending on the sound, you want it to stand out. You can use the clarinet or the oboe. Both instruments are ideal for fitting into various types of genres. In addition to classical music, they stand out in pop-rock and jazz. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used both instruments in different works. If you want, you can listen to a couple of his works so you can compare the sounds.

• Oboe work: Concerto for Oboe in C Major K314. I Allegro Aperto.

• Clarinet Work: Clarinet Concerto in A major. K622

Remember, the clarinet is perfect, producing softer and more relaxing sounds and can go up to the loudest and most aggressive ones, making use of the lowest and highest notes to reflect all the passion and feeling you want to express. On the other hand, the oboe has a timbre characterized by an excellent sound and a very clear and somewhat nasal, expressive, and very soft sound.

Is it up to you, the composer, or the director to decide, Oboe vs. Clarinet?

Which is higher clarinet or oboe?

Both are very important orchestral instruments in the orchestra and any other musical group.

The oboe is like the captain of the team in an orchestra. Because the oboe’s pitch varies little with temperature, it is often used to tune the note to which all the other instruments in the orchestra must tune. However, when it comes to soloing, both instruments are outstanding soloists.

Everything will depend on the note and style that the director wants to highlight. Oboe vs. clarinet both are superior in their particularities!


Oboe vs. clarinet are instruments that offer a classic sound, and today, they are essential in any band, ensemble, or orchestra.

People are willing to pay for a high-quality Oboe or Clarinet and for the incredible sound they produce. Although many oboists and clarinetists will never have the opportunity to try one of these high-end instruments, they will be able to hear how some of the best artists play them from around the world.

However, you will also be happy to know that there are good options like the best Oboe vs. Clarinet brands out there at more realistic prices.

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About Maggie Holding

Hello! My name is Maggie and I am a proud Editor/Author for PlayTheTunes. Coming From South Carolina, USA, my whole life I've sang and played the guitar and flute! I love music with a passion, and am ecstatic to help others in their own music journey!