Differences between Oboe, Flute, Basson, Clarinet and English Horn

wind wood instruments
Difference between Oboe, Flute, Basson, Clarinet and English Horn

A priori the differences between these instruments are quite evident, especially for musicians, however, there are several peculiarities in the differences of these 5 instruments that we would like to mention:

  • Families: The bassoon belongs to the Wind Wood family as well as the oboe, the clarinet, the English horn and the flute, although we found some differences in the internal drills of themselves. Among them we have conical tube instruments, such as the oboe, the English horn and the bassoon, and cylindrical tube instruments, such as the flute and the clarinet.
  • Dimensions: The bassoon has a height and length much greater than that of the clarinet, the oboe, the flute and the English horn.
  • The reeds: the flute does not need a reed, while the oboe, the English horn and the bassoon use a double reed. The clarinet for its part needs a simple reed.
  • The mouthpieces are very different: the number 1 belongs to the flute (bevel), the number 2 to the oboe (double-reed), the bassoon is similar but wider, short and without tunnel included, the number 3 belongs to the clarinet (simple reed assembled in the mouthpiece by clamp).
Mouthpieces flute, oboe and basson
  • Manufacturing material: The flute is made of metal (although it is considered from the wood family, because in its beginnings, it was made of wood. An example of it is the Baroque traverse), the oboe is made with an African black wood, also called granadilla or ebony, like the English horn. The types of wood most used to make the clarinet are the passionflower, the cocobolo and palo rosa. The bassoon is made of highly varnished maple wood. Of course, we are only talking about the most used materials.

  According to this, it seems that there are no differences between the oboe and the English horn, but nothing further from this. Here are some differences: – The sound of the English horn is deeper than the oboe. – The bell of the English horn has a bit more a  bulb shape than the oboe. – The English horn is larger than oboe (its sound corresponds to a lower fifth). In addition, it has a piece of curved metal at the top called bocal.

English Horn

– The sound is produced by a double reed tongue, larger than that of the oboe, attached to the instrument by a metal tube called staple, similar to the inner part of the oboe’s staple, but shorter and without cork. Also, as we our post of the oboe curiosities was so popular, we leave you some curiosities about the English horn: – It is an instrument that enters the orchestra around the year 1750 – The origin of the name of the English horn comes from the existence of a model in the form of an elbow or “anglé” intended to be played on horseback, used at the beginning of this instrument. Its orthographic deformation becomes “anglais · (English) and hence Cor anglé – Cor anglais – English Horn. – It was used by J. S. Bach under the name “oboe de Caccia” (hunting oboe) since it could be used on horseback and was used in hunting. Do you know any other anecdote or curiosity? Tell us! You can find all our products at: https://medinareeds.es/bienvenidos-nuestra-web/tienda/





  1. Thank you for the help.

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