Difference Between an Oboe and Clarinet

Oboe and Clarinet are terms that can be said to be very confusingly similar as well as different. The biggest difference between this two can be pointed out in the number of reeds.


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Oboe is an instrument with two reeds while on the other hand, we have a Clarinet which has a single reed.

Oboe is an instrument made out of wood and wind is used to blow through this instrument in order to play it. This woodwind instrument consists of a double reed mouthpiece which makes it unique from Clarinet.

This instrument mainly came to the front around the 18th century from French culture or Italian culture. 

A clarinet is an instrument also made out of wood and wind is used to play this but this instrument has only a single reed. This feature of a single-reed mouthpiece makes it unique and different from Clarinet.

This instrument came into notice around the 18th century as well but with no doubt from the french culture.

Oboe vs Clarinet

The difference between Oboe and Clarinet is that Oboe is a slender tubular body while on the other hand Clarinet is a cylindrical tube when it comes to body structure. Oboe and Clarinet are though two same kinds of looking instruments but still consists of many minutes and even big differences.

Oboe vs Clarinet

Oboe first is believed to have appeared in 17th century France nobody knows the exact origin of this instrument. The initial stage of an oboe started from a feature of three keys and was built from boxwood.

The contemporary oboes are made from mainly African blackwood and often from rosewood or cocobolo as well.

Clarinet first is believed to have appeared in France or Italy and was evolved from single-reed instruments like Albogue or Alboka.

But every modern Clarinet is believed to have evolved from chalumeau. These instruments are made from usually African Blackwood or Grenadilla or rosewood or very rare from cocobolo.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOboeClarinet
BoreConical boreCylindrical bore
BellRound BellFlared Bell
Tone Holes Mostly consists of closed tone holes Mostly consists of open tones
Length 26 inches 27.6 inches
Unique parts Staple and a reed Barrel and mouthpiece

What is an Oboe?

Oboe is an instrument which in many ways differs from Clarinet. It is easily noticeable that an oboe consists of a double reed. These two reed works side by side in order to produce sound.

This difference in placement of reed makes all difference in tones and we as makes it unique and different from a clarinet.

Oboe can produce a very broad range of tones which makes it very valuable in the genres like jazz. Its conical bore is the reason for forming such a bright tone which makes it much more valuable.

Along with this different range of tones this instrument is capable of forming soft tones as well.

Oboe is much difficult to learn if we compare it to Clarinet and also need professional help to learn to play this instrument. Oboes are even limited in types, unlike Clarinet.

There are mainly three types of Oboes which include Cor Anglais, Oboe d’amore and lastly bass oboe.

Cor Anglais consists of a special feature of F pitch, Oboe d’amore consists of A pitch and lastly, bass oboe comes specially with one octave sound lower than naturally used in oboes.

Some of the famous musicians who use oboes are Walter Boeykens, Naftule Brandwein, etc.

What is a Clarinet?

The clarinet is an instrument that can be differentiated from oboes in many ways firstly is the presence of a single reed. It consists of a barrel and a mouthpiece.

The single reed is placed on the mouthpiece which with the help of a ligature is kept in a particular place.

The tone of a clarinet can differ from the oboe in the way because it has a distinctive timbre. There are mainly three different kinds of tones i.e. the chalumeau or low, clarion or clarino or middle, and lastly altissimo or high.

The clarinet mainly sounds a little dark, rich and moreover, the bass clarinet sounds very deep and mellow in nature.

In a modern clarinet, we can find numerous keys and seven-hole (one in the back and six in front) which have complex functions as well. But if we compare the learning process of clarinet it is much easier than oboes. 

When we talk about types of clarinet their are many and changes based on the combination of instruments and occasions for example Piccolo is a rare kind of clarinet that is mainly used in Italian military music or Sopranino kind of clarinet used in a very wide range of music.

Main Differences Between Oboe and Clarinet

  1. Oboe is an instrument that has a very wide range of tones while the Clarinet on the other hand is used for little dark in sound.
  2. Oboes have an amplified and bright sound while Clarinet on the other hand has a mellow and round sound.
  3. Oboe is an instrument that is shorter than Clarinet by 1.6 inches.
  4. Oboes are hard to learn and cannot be learned without the help of professional teachers while Clarinet on the other hand is easy to learn when we compare.
  5. Oboes have a conical bore while on the other hand Clarinet has a cylindrical or reverse cylindrical bore.
  6. Oboe has much more restriction when we talk about range while on the other hand Clarinet is famous for its highest range in the whole woodwind family.
  7. Oboe is used in pieces of music like classical and baroque while Clarinet is used in jazz, classical, folk, and even romantic.
Difference Between an Oboe and Clarinet


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/dav/aaua/1999/00000085/00000002/art00014
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3679606
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2307/3344680
  4. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.1919317
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