5 Best Oboes for Everyone: from Novice Musicians to Professionals

Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: March 07, 2023
Prime Sound is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

If you are reading this article, you are familiar with musical instruments, and you should be aware of the woodwind category, which oboes belong to. We will help you to choose the best oboe and help with all the issues of your interest. Just by the fact that wind is mentioned, you can tell this instrument is played by blowing into one end. Its general design usually involves a hollow, slender body with holes punctured into the sides. These holes are covered by keys that help to control the sound output, tones, and musical keys.

However, this is not uniform for all woodwind devices. Some leave their holes completely open, and people play them by covering and uncovering the gaps with their fingers as they blow. An illustrative example presents itself in a flute.

Oboes belong to a group of woodwind instruments of the double reed variation. Where a single reed is concerned, one piece of cane is positioned near the mouthpiece, and thus it vibrates when you blow into the instrument.

Mouthpieces, of course, come in all variations with some being made of metal, resin, and even hardened rubber. As depicted in the name, a double-reed instrument would have two canes positioned close to the mouthpiece. With one end being the mouthpiece or staple the opposite end of the oboe is known as a bell, which is where sound exits the oboe.

Bells come in all shapes and sizes. Also, the upper and lower joints run the length of the oboe connecting the staple to the bell and are characterized by a conical bore giving the instrument its distinctive sound.

Both the upper and lower joints are punctuated by tone keys that control a system of rods that lines the oboe. Each time a key is pressed, a rod turns and covers or opens up a tone hole resulting in a particular musical key. Also as part of the finger keys, there are the first and second-octave keys mostly situated on the upper joint, and they serve the purpose of allowing an oboe player to produce higher octave tones without changing the fingering.

So much goes into making the perfect oboe, and that includes materials, springs, and other component features. Also, while in the past, almost all oboes had wooden construction, some modern ones are made of plastic to avoid cracking or breaking. Also, there are various variations of wood that can be used to craft the oboe. Some questions you need to ask yourself are as follows: What makes up the mouthpiece? How does the construction material affect the sound? What makes up the spring system that controls the rod? A seasoned oboe player will know how each element affects his ability to play the instrument. However, for a newbie, there are some of the considerations you need to consider before coming up with a list of oboes that you can purchase. We have done most of that work for you, and have a few recommendations.

Below you will find a comparison table with the list of best oboes on the market. Then, you will be able to look through all the products specifically, described in in-depth reviews where all the unique features are mentioned. Coming up with such in-depth information about each product can only be as a result of countless hours of research that involves going onto manufacturers’ sites, reading through features listed, going through customers’ reviews and comparing how each of these instruments performs in real life. The result of the job done you may find in our ultimate buying guide.

5 Best Oboe Reviews 2021


RS Berkeley ob400 Elite Series OboeEditor’s Choice

  • Body material: ebonite
  • Key: C
  • Springs: blue steel
  • Case: +

Where you would want to make a one-off purchase with regards to oboe music, then this item fits the bill. The ebonite construction does not easily allow any damage to happen to the body of the oboe. This is inclusive of all three major components of the instrument. The Yamaha YOB-241 Series Student Oboe and this RS Berkeley ob400 Elite Series Oboe are similar in that they both feature tapered pivot screws. Another similarity is that they both ship with cleaning kits.

This model, however, has several additional accessories that you don’t get with other models. One is, of course, the music stand that allows you to read a composition as you play. The next is a band folder, and yet another extra is the standard of excellence book that features a few lessons on oboe. As you start, you need all the help you can get, and thus this book will provide a few valuable lessons on playing the oboe. Also, inside the textbook, you will find two useful CDs. They contain band accompaniments and the IPAS practice and assessment software.

The spring components are all made of blue steel, and a case is included to keep the instrument safe while in storage or transit.

What makes it special?

  • Comes with a lot of accessories
  • Durable construction
  • Comes with a book and two CDs to aid in the journey to oboe mastery

What cons did we find?

  • Relatively expensive

Yinfente Professional OboeBest Professional Oboe

  • Body material: Rosewood wood
  • Key: C
  • Springs: stainless steel
  • Case: +

A professional needs equipment of a higher class and this instrument fits the bill. Once you have perfected cleaning, maintaining, assembling, disassembling, and playing the oboe, you can now move to this model.  All wood construction of the instrument is very delicate. You should, therefore, handle with care as the slightest damage may render the tool unusable. However, if you feel the rosewood construction is too much of a responsibility, the manufacturer offers the same model oboe in an ebonite finish.

The rosewood option features stainless steel springs and finger keys with gold plating. This goes well with the brown color of the rosewood. On the other hand, with the ebonite option, the plating is silver to coincide with the black color of the body. The instrument is semi-automatic in that either the second or third-octave keys have the effect of closing the first octave. There are even options that allow for a fully automated system depending on the needs of the oboe player.

Also, the instrument can be enclosed in an oboe case, which you can then put in a bag for easier transportation.

Why is it special?

  • Professional grade quality
  • Carrying case
  • Semi-automatic system

What are the flaws?

  • Wooden construction is somewhat fragile

Rochix OboeThe Easy-to-Maintain Oboe

  • Body material: Bakelite wood
  • Key: C
  • Springs: stainless steel
  • Case: +

Our second piece has most of its body made from Bakelite wood. This model is one of few that comes with accessories that allow for maintenance of the instrument. These include a screwdriver, a cleaning swab, and lubricant. Veteran oboe players will be able to clean and lubricate the instrument every so often. As a result, damage to the oboe will remain minimal, and you won’t have to spend money getting someone else to clean it for you.

A theme you find in this particular instrument as well as in all the other oboes we have listed is the fact that they all play the C key despite their different sizes and different material composition. The oboe reed that comes attached to the metal mouthpiece is, in fact, very high-quality. Nonetheless, people who are serious about taking up the oboe or have been doing it for some time need to be able to make reeds of their own. This way, they all have their input on the sound that comes out, and they can interchange handmade oboe reeds depending on the occasion.

Also, the package comes with gloves to help you play the instrument. However, it is not a requirement for you to use them. Cupronickel keys line the body of the oboe, and just like its predecessor on our list, they are silver-plated.

What are its best features?

  • Light carrying case
  • Comes with instructions
  • Includes cleaning accessories in the package
  • Relatively inexpensive in comparison to other oboes

What could be improved?

  • Wooden construction is easy to damage

Yamaha YOB-241 Series Student OboeThe Most Durable Oboe

  • Body material: ABS resin
  • Key: C
  • Springs: stainless steel
  • Case: +

If you want to start playing the oboe, this gadget may be the one for you. The bell, upper joint, and the lower joint are all made of ABS resin, which is a more durable material. On the inside, the Yamaha YOB-241 Series Student Oboe incorporates a new bore design with vertical integration, which has the overall effect of improving tones and projection.

Tone holes are undercut, and this results in smooth tones when you play in addition to even intonation. On the far bell end of the oboe, the manufacturer included a nickel silver ring. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like it serves any practical purpose. However, if you are a seasoned oboe player, you will note a quicker response and that the sound is more focused.

Also, all the keys are made of stainless steel, which adds to their durability with a silver finish added for a classy look. Couple this with french-taper screws that, in theory, should allow users precise adjustment and increase the longevity of the tool. Most oboes, including the ones on this list, will cost you upwards of $1000 due to the craftsmanship and quality of the materials put in. This model also fits that bill despite being a student oboe.

What do we love it for?

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Professional-grade sound in a student-grade body
  • Innovative design to improve tone

What were we disappointed with?

  • Expensive
  • Bulky and heavy carrying case

Glory OboeBudget pick

  • Body material: hard plastic
  • Key: C
  • Springs: stainless steel
  • Case: +

Another beginner instrument presents itself in the form of the Glory oboe. The construction material is so far unique in that the tool is made from hard plastic. As such, the device is so much cheaper than some of our other options. As a result, students can learn to take it apart and put it back together if they ever hope to upgrade to professional-grade oboes. Also, due to its construction, the Glory oboe is not as fragile as its wooden counterparts. Consequently, the device can take a tumble and still be able to play the right keys after that.

As mentioned earlier students need to learn how to make reeds that suit the mood. However, as they are still learning, there is no rule against purchasing readymade double-reeds. The tool also has sufficient aesthetics that make it look like it is made of wood. One problem associated with buying this particular oboe model is that you may not be able to play it right off the bat. There is sometimes a requirement to adjust the key work as some of the keys may be out of alignment. Overall a student just starting can refine his skills using the Glory oboe.

What do we love it for?

  • Durable construction
  • Cheap
  • Comes with case
  • Very aesthetic

What were we disappointed with?

  • Sometimes requires key adjustment before playing

Things to Consider

With the purchase of an oboe, you should have a concrete idea of what you want before looking at some of the options available. This is only possible if you have enough information about the instruments themselves. Also, you need to be keenly aware of your capabilities in terms of how well you can maintain an oboe in addition to how well you can play the instrument. There is no need to go for a professional-grade piece of equipment while you barely know how to hold one. Remember that learning to play any musical instrument is a process, and the oboe is not an exception.

Features to consider while choosing oboe

5 Best Oboes for Everyone: from Novice Musicians to Professionals

These make all the difference between the two options. Features are a big part of determining whether an instrument is suitable for your needs or not. We live in an e-commerce digital age, and therefore, we can order items online and have them delivered at our doorsteps. Often we see product listings with their features displayed right alongside. This way, we make the purchase knowing what to expect when the product arrives. To help you in the understanding of the oboe characteristics, we have listed them below and described each one in detail.

Body material

Body materials for oboes are as diverse as there are buying options. Even on our list, you will find ABS resin, hard plastic, rosewood, and ebonite. In the past, all oboes were made of wood like the Yinfente Professional Oboe. Most professional-grade oboes are made of the same material even though it might be from different trees. However, manufacturers have realized that wood is easy to damage, and that makes the oboe fragile. The best oboe player will have a few tricks up his sleeve to help him work around that.

On the other hand, no one is born with the knowledge to maintain an oboe, even though some players have a high aptitude for that sort of thing. As such, when people are starting up, they may not be able to take the best care of the instrument. Manufacturers have realized this need for stronger construction material, and this is where other body materials such as the resin and hard plastic have come in. Therefore students have much more liberty to make mistakes in the learning process.

Key system:

Key systems come in three types, and they often represent the stage at which the oboe player is at. The student model is, of course, first and is the most basic. Manufacturers don’t want to complicate the learning process too much. Otherwise, users are unable to move on to intermediate and finally to professional models. As such, a few keys are missing from the setup, namely the left-hand F key in addition to a low Bb key.

An intermediate key system incorporates the two keys missing from the student model. Consequently, anybody not willing to play the oboe professionally might be perfectly content using this key system indefinitely.

The professional model is the most complicated of all systems. First, it incorporates all the keys that are in the intermediate version, including the F and low Bb keys. Next up, there is the addition of an Eb-E trill key and a few other special ones. These may include a third-octave key, a Philadelphia high D key and in a few cases an adjustable thumb rest. As such players using these keys experience a higher resonance and improved projection for their sound.


The oboe is a double-reed instrument, and as such, the reed is an essential component. However, it is not irreplaceable.

Any player worth their salt, especially those who would like to play oboe solos, should have a collection of different reeds. You can choose to purchase a few of them from the various vendors available. However, most professionals prefer to make their own.
To a trained ear, the reeds end up producing different sounds, and that is why it is advisable to have them in multiples. To illustrate how vital reeds are the RS Berkeley ob400 Elite Series Oboe ships with a reed of its own with the addition of a reed case to store your extras.


Keys need to be at a particular position so that when you press them as you are blowing through the oboe, they emit a specific sound. All the spring does is revert the key to its original position, so if the player needs to press the key again, they can do so. The highest quality keys will last a long time, but all of them are subject to wear and tear. At the very least if you plan to retain your oboe, choose one with springs that you can easily replace. Options include stainless and blue steel.


This is the one factor that almost always factors in whenever you need to buy something. In our list, you have items that cost upwards of $1000 and still others that cost below $500. Your budget dictates the options you have, and with a bigger one, the possibilities are numerous. A smaller budget will severely limit your choices; however, this is no cause for worry. You can still get something high quality, especially if you are just starting out in the field.


Wind instruments usually incorporate a resonator into their design. In most cases, this is a tube that can vibrate and, as a result, emit a particular sound. For better control of the sound that comes out, sometimes instruments with this design incorporate a key system: pressing specific keys will have the effect of tweaking the outgoing sound in one way or another.  Other examples include the clarinet and the bassoon.

The best oboe brands have fine-tuned their instrument-making skills over time to output the best products. Unfortunately, unknown manufacturers do not have the same experience. While the difference may be minimal and even negligent, brand oboes are still a better pick. On the other hand, unknown manufacturers are likely to lower their prices to compete with the brands. The quality of the product should be the first thing you look at. If you are going to a showroom, you should test and get a sense of how each of these gadgets feels. After that, you can make the best decision for yourself, depending on the quality and your finances.

Scientists seem to believe that the material in no ways affects the sound quality of the sound that comes out. However, professional music players of the woodwind variety strongly disagree. They all seem to share the opinion that high-quality material will affect the sound for the better. Professional oboists are not too keen to pick plastic instruments. They would instead pick wooden ones even though there is a high likelihood of damage. Also, more often than not, wooden oboes come at a higher price their counterparts.

The best oboe brands have fine-tuned their instrument-making skills over time to output the best products. Unfortunately, unknown manufacturers do not have the same experience. While the difference may be minimal and even negligent, brand oboes are still a better pick. On the other hand, unknown manufacturers are likely to lower their prices to compete with the brands. The quality of the product should be the first thing you look at. If you are going to a showroom, you should test and get a sense of how each of these gadgets feels. After that, you can make the best decision for yourself, depending on the quality and your finances.

As a student, there are likely going to be several additional expenses you can associate with playing the oboe. Some of the models mentioned above don’t come with cleaning equipment. Additionally, you may have to take up playing lessons. A third expense may come from several repairs you need to do over time as your oboe suffers wear and tear. If you continue playing the oboe to mastery, you are also likely to upgrade to intermediate and professional key systems which generally cost a lot of money.

Our Verdict

As a current or potential oboist, you probably have picked out from the above models an oboe you feel is just right for you. If we were looking to purchase oboes ourselves, we would probably pick one of the following three:

The RS Berkeley ob400 Elite Series Oboe has everything you would ever need to get started as an oboist. The body consists of ebonite, and the package even comes with instructional and training videos. Besides that, you get a book, a music stand and a reed case just in case you need to add to your reed collection. All that’s left is for you to get your affairs together and go shopping.

Our second pick is the Yinfente Professional Oboe geared towards the professional market. While wood cracks easily oboists believe it emits a higher quality sound. This particular model is made of high-quality rosewood and will thus serve a professional well. The one featured on our table uses the semi-automatic octave key system. However, you can decide to spend a little extra to get a fully automatic one.

Finally, the Rochix Oboe is a top-three pick that radiates class even as it comes in at less than $500. It comes with accessories that help to maintain as well as clean the instrument. The synthetic leather case with straps also fits inside a bag with straps. As such, carrying the tool becomes easier. This is also one of a few models that you can find in this price range with a wooden body.

5 Best Oboes for Everyone: from Novice Musicians to Professionals

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *