Wind instruments such as the clarinet, flute or saxophone are very well-known among most people. What most are not aware of, is that the thinking and technology behind these famous instruments largely stem from one of the oldest wind instruments, known as the ocarina. The ocarina is an ancient wind instrument and is referred to as a type of vessel flute. The sound is created in an ocarina through the passing of wind through an enclosed space and released through different valves. Ocarinas typically have somewhere between four to twelve finger holes, producing an octave range of notes.
But what are the best ocarinas currently available to purchase? This article aims to help you in the purchasing process of these beautiful melodic instruments. Factors we consider important when working out the best ocarina to suit your needs include shape, chambers, material, holes, pitch, size and weight. You must take your time to read as much research as possible before purchasing, to give you the best chance of buying a great value ocarina.
Top 5 Ocarinas Review 2019
Information for this article has been taken from a combination of manufacturer websites and online customer reviews to give you the best and most informed insight. The article begins with a comparison table of products, followed by 5 in-depth product reviews which include a product description, pros/cons and key features. The buying guide outlines all of the factors you should consider when before purchasing as well as some FAQ. In the conclusion, we rank our top three best ocarinas.
OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina – Editor’s Choice
- Material: elm
- Holes: 12
- Key: C
- Length: 7’’
More features: A4-F6 pitch, 4.3’’ wide, songbook included, bag included
The OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina is a classic-looking ocarina that will certainly appeal to traditionalists who to purchase an ocarina that is made from wood. The construction of the OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina is made from elm, which is known for its robustness and solidity, ensuring the instrument is robust to any potential damage.
The OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina is made in the C major key and has a range of pitches from A-F to including sharps and flats. This gives more than a sufficient range of notes to experiment with and will be easy to use if you already familiar with playing the ocarina.
In addition to purchasing the instrument, OcarinaWind offers a variety of additional accessories. These include a songbook which is perfect for beginners to become acquainted with the challenges of learning the ocarina as well as a nice protective bag which can help maintain the instrument when it is being transported. The bag also protects the wood from chipping.
Another great advantage of purchasing the OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina is that the instrument is very light to hold. A common issue some find when learning the ocarina is the challenge of navigating an instrument that can be deceptively heavy. The light wood design of the OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina overcomes this deliver a decent quality ocarina that is straightforward to navigate. Purchasing the OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina is an investment in a classic ocarina style, as well as a great quality instrument both in terms of sound and style.
- Classic wooden appearance
- High-quality protective bag
- Highest notes can be tricky to play
Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina – Best Premium Ocarina
- Material: ceramic
- Holes: 12
- Key: C
More features: hand-made, songbook included, A4-F6 pitch, lustre glazing
The Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina is one of the best premium range ocarinas currently available to purchase. Handcrafted from high-quality ceramic material, the instrument not only looks unique with the mysterious monster tone thanks to the lustre glazing but also produces a distinctive, full-bodied ocarina sound.
The Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina comes fitted with 12 holes which create about an octave’s worth of notes. This gives a fantastic range of note offerings for you to experiment with. The location of the holes will be familiar for experienced ocarina players which makes the instrument easy to play if you are transitioning from a different ocarina.
One of the biggest appeals of the Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina is the supreme sound quality. No matter whether you are an experienced player or a beginner, you will be amazed by the fantastic quality produced by the instrument. Although beginners may be put off by the high price if you are purchasing an ocarina with the ambition of performing it in public, investing money in a high-quality instrument such as the Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina maybe your best option.
The Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina also sells a story. As part of the purchasing offer comes a free copy of the Legend of the Dragon Tooth Story as well as a songbook to help you learn many of the classic ocarina tunes. The Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina is not only a high-quality musical instrument but also the gateway into a mysterious, magical world.
- High-quality ceramic construction
- Easy to play
- Unique color scheme
- High price
- No stand to hold up the ocarina
Songbird The Muse – Best Handcrafted Ocarina
- Material: ceramic
- Holes: 10
- Key: F
More features: sculpted, hand-made, F-Bb pitch, songbook and case included
The Songbird The Muse ocarina is known for being one of the best-handcrafted ocarinas currently available to purchase. Constructed from a beige ceramic, the instrument contains the image of a resting face which embodies the sweet and relaxing tones that the ocarina instrument can produce.
The Songbird The Muse is hand-sculpted by Jonathan Bickart who is a World-Renowned Artist. This adds value to the instrument, making it a premium range ocarina instrument. In addition to the craftsmanship, the sound from the Songbird The Muse ocarina is somewhat lower than the standard tenor ocarina. The note ranges from Octave and a 4th range from F to Bb, which creates a wonderfully rich and mellow tonal character.
The Songbird The Muse purchasing offer also includes plenty of accessories. These include a free songbook for you to peruse as well as a tutorial exercise to get you started on the instrument. The premium velvet casing adds an extra layer of quality to the purchasing offer, allowing you to protect the instrument during transportation.
The fingering layout and shape of the Songbird The Muse is slightly different from the majority of ocarinas. As such, even if you are an experienced ocarina player it may take a few practice sessions to get used to the shape and feel of the Songbird The Muse. The size of the instrument is also larger than some may expect, which for beginners may make playing seem more complex.
- Mellow tone
- Unique playing style
- Challenging for beginners
- Placement of holes make it difficult to play
ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina – Best Electric
- Material: ABS
- Buttons: 7
- Length: 7’’
More features: 6-button tune, illustrated songbook included, double playing mode
The ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina is renowned for being one of the best electric ocarina’s currently available to purchase. Exclusively designed by experts at ThinkGeek this ocarina takes classic elements and combines them with fantastic modern twists. The instrument includes a stand to display and is powered by 3AAA batteries which are included in the purchasing offer.
The ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina is perhaps best known for its two playing modes. The first is a standard free-play mode which adopts the classic ocarina style. While the second mode unlocks a hidden song when you play a specific six-note combination. This gives makes the instrument fun to play and keeps you on your toes. In total, the instrument is designed to play 8 different notes, allowing you to easily adjust the pitch of the note.
Another appealing feature of the ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina is that with purchase of the instrument comes a fully illustrated songbook to help you learn. The songbook is very easy to understand and it is suitable for both adults and children. You can learn songs such as Zelda’s Lullaby, Sun’s Song and Song of Time. ThinkGeek have not simply thought of creating a high-quality instrument but have sought to help consumers learn to master the instrument.
The material used to construct the ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina is ABS which is long-lasting and highly durable. Having this material compared to a more classic wooden or ceramic design may put off some ocarina traditionalists. But the advantages in terms of durability are substantial, with ABS being unaffected by water which can protect the electronic items stored inside.
- Two play modes
- Durable material
- Comes with an illustrated songbook
- Two play modes
- Durable material
- Comes with an illustrated songbook
Focalink Ceramic Ocarina – Budget Pick
- Material: ceramic
- Holes: 12
- Length: 7’’
- Key: C
More features: polishing cloth and case included, A to F pitch, comes with a cleaning kit
The Focalink Ceramic Ocarina is a single-chambered ocarina that is tuned to the key of Alto C. It is known for being one the best affordable ocarina’s currently on the market and is a great purchasing option for those on a limited budget.
Constructed from ceramic, the Focalink Ceramic Ocarina keeps much of the similar physical and musical characteristics associated with classic ceramic ocarinas. The range of the instrument is from A to high F, allowing players to experiment with 13 notes. This note range compares well with more expensive ocarinas, some of whom have as few as 7 notes to play with.
The design of the Focalink Ceramic Ocarina ensures that the instrument is incredibly easy to play despite the low price. Focalink uses precision engineering and tests every instrument before it is made available. This gives a certain guarantee over the musical sound. For a budget product, the Focalink Ceramic Ocarina is also well-equipped with extra accessories. These include a bag to protect the instrument when being transported, a polishing cloth as well as a metal channel cleaner to maintain the most challenging cleaning areas.
In addition to the instrument, the Focalink Ceramic Ocarina also comes with a fingering chart which is a perfect learning tool for beginners to use. The chart contains simple instructions and illustrations to help you learn the ocarina step by step. The combination of affordability, sound quality and accessories, makes the Focalink Ceramic Ocarina one of the most sought-after ocarinas.
- Slick black ceramic design
- 13 notes
- Great accessories to help beginners
- Ceramic is more fragile to breaking
Sound anew – what you should know about the ocarinas
There are different ocarinas depending on the culture they are from around the world. They have a variety of visual differences but in general, they have between 4-12 holes that enables them to create the different notes.
Depending on where the ocarina originated and its manufacturer, it will be decorated differently. Some manufacturers are now making ocarinas that look like Zelda, the video game to attract fans. Younger players can easily learn the ocarina as it is an instrument great for learning how to create melodies and reading music.
Beginner tips for ocarina enthusiasts
The following tips will help you to learn and play your ocarina in no time:
Look at your ocarina as you hold it in your hands to keep it safe.
If you have a 4-hole ocarina, support your instrument by putting your thumbs on the thumb-rests. If you are playing a 6-hole ocarina, close the thumb-holes with your fingers.
When the mouthpiece is in your mouth, make sure that your top lip does not get in the way of the whistle-hole.
When playing, the string-end of the ocarina should be pointed towards the ground.
Breath into your ocarina with a steady and warm breath.
The following YouTube video explains more about ocarinas:
The sound of money
Before purchasing an ocarina, consider your budget and needs. The high-quality ceramic ocarinas are generally expensive but the wood ocarinas are cheaper. The ocarinas reviewed above range from $30 to $130 meaning there is one for everyone.
Consider the following features to choose the best ocarina
Below are a few features to consider when buying an ocarina:
Ocarinas come on different shapes. Transverse ocarina, also known as sweet potato is the traditional and most popular style used. It is held horizontally and requires two hands to hold. This style can either come in 10- or 12-hole style.
Pendants are another style of ocarinas. They can either be English or Peruvian. English style has between 4 and 6 holes and is very small while the Peruvian style has between 8 to 9 holes, designed with animal images and is slightly larger.
You can also find an ocarina with a blend of the transverse and pendants style known as the inline. It has more holes than the pendant style and is compact and small.
Some ocarinas are multi-chambered which can either be double or triple. They can resemble the transverse, pendants and inline ocarinas but they have a more complex and varied range of tones and is mostly used by experienced musicians.
Ancient ocarinas were made from clay, but today ocarinas in the market are from different materials including wood, plastic, ceramics, metal, glass or silicone. Each material produces its unique sound; therefore, it is important to test each one out so that you can find one that is suitable for you.
Plastic ocarinas such as the ThinkGeek Electronic Ocarina are cheaper and more durable but they will sacrifice some tones for the convenience that they give. Plastic ocarinas are also more likely to have electronic features due to the complementary properties of plastic with electronics.
Since ceramic ocarinas such as the Songbird the Muse are handmade, each one of them is unique. They provide more vibration hence producing a better resonating sound.
Wood ocarinas such as the OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina are lightweight and create a deeper and even tone.
Metal ocarinas are highly durable and produce a louder and clearer sound.
Silicone ocarinas are similar to the plastic ones but are softer to touch.
The ocarinas reviewed above have holes ranging from 7 to 12 depending on the notes that you want to produce. Most ocarinas will have a songbook when you are purchasing them and they will support you in learning the basics and the opportunity for learning melodies as well.
To build enough confidence for playing the ocarina, you can learn the simple and recognizable melodies such as Happy Birthday and you can know if you are getting it right by just hearing the sound.
The number of holes in an ocarina will determine the range pitch that it produces. Most skilled musicians would prefer a large ocarina with more holes because of the wide range of pitch options they offer. However, if you are a beginner, an ocarina with fewer holes is a great place to start to get a feel of the instrument and the sound.
Sometimes, the pitch is connected to the size of the ocarina, so knowing the measurements between the holes will give you an idea of how far your fingers need to reach. The best way to know if the size will affect the pitch, hold the ocarina first before purchasing it.
Size and weight
Choosing the right size of your ocarina is very crucial as it will determine the pitch and the tone produced. Smaller ocarinas produce soprano ones, larger ocarinas produce a tenor and the biggest ocarinas play the bass tones.
Bigger ocarinas such as the Songbird The Muse will have bigger holes, therefore consider the size of the fingers of the person who will play the ocarina. A smaller child will play a smaller ocarina as their fingers can cover the holes. For an adult with larger fingers, a bigger ocarina with big holes is alright.
Ocarinas should be held comfortably; they should not be too big or too small. Tenor ocarinas are mid-sized, hence the most popular choice for most players.
There are ocarinas of high quality that can play a range of pitches and tones independent of the size, but a bass ocarina will always have a deeper tone than a soprano ocarina. Tenor ocarinas have the advantage of reaching more pitch and tone ranges that its counterparts.
Ceramic ocarinas are normally heavier than the plastic and wood ocarinas. Depending on your choice, purchase an ocarina that you can hold comfortably and not heavy for you.
Before you buy, read the answers to these most frequently asked questions:
Ocarina is an easy instrument for children to learn how to play. By just blowing the ocarina, you can immediately hear the sound and get a note. You can easily change the pitch of the notes by covering the holes, hence children can immediately gain the effect from learning every note.
Children can be motivated by the quick achievements that they get from playing the ocarina and they become quickly engaged as the instrument is simple and easy to play.
The ocarina is an ancient vessel flute that has been played for over 12000 years. The origin of ocarinas can be traced to different cultures of the world. In South and Central America, the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas created and performed using clay ocarinas which were always designed like animals or birds.
Ocarinas shaped in animals or birds could also be found as early as 5000BC in India. China had a more rounded and egg-like ocarina called a Xun.
Buying a ready-made ocarina will save you the time. But if you wish to make an ocarina on your own, there are plenty of lessons for you to explore. Here we have an example of work on wooden ocarina here:
Hopefully, this article has given you all the essentials you need to know before purchasing the best ocarina to suit your musical needs.
Our verdict on the top three best ocarinas is:
The OcarinaWind Wooden Ocarina finishes top of our rankings because of the lightweight, classic wooden design which goes back to the design origins of the instrument.
The Songbird Dragon Tooth Ocarina comes second in the rankings due to its top of the range ceramic material and the ease with which the instrument can be played.
The Songbird The Muse comes third in our rankings due to unique handcraft design and the rich, mellow sound which is not commonly found on ocarinas.
Before you commit to purchasing an ocarina, do take your time to consider all the purchasing options to give you the best chance of selecting a great value instrument.