Buying an oboe can be very different from buying other musical instruments since oboe is not generally an instrument students play as their first instrument. Generally, students begin playing flute or clarinet and then transition to oboe. This means that there are very few true beginner oboes on the market.
Since students have to decide that they want to play oboe, they are more likely to keep playing their instrument longer. This means that you can generally buy a higher-quality oboe and not feel like you are wasting money if the student doesn’t end up playing very often.
While you can certainly buy new oboes, used oboes are also a great option since you might be able to save money and actually get a high-quality instrument that has been tested by another musician. Advanced or even intermediate students can consider buying a used instrument of a very good brand.
In this article, we will take a look at the best oboe brands on the market and see some of the recommended oboe models by those oboe brands. That way you will be able to make an informed decision when buying an oboe.
Best Oboe Brands 2018
We have listed our favorite oboe brands below. We’ll start with an overview of the best oboes for beginners, intermediate players, and professional players. We’ll then list the remainder of our recommended oboe brands below in the order that we recommend them.
Use this list as a guideline for which oboe brands to buy. While not every oboe brand on this list will fit your budget, experience level, or other search criteria, we hope it provides a great baseline to begin your search.
Best Oboe Brand for Beginners
ammoon is a well-known beginner instrument brand and they make great student oboes that are quite affordable. Our favorite models are the T9M1 and Cupronickel Plated one.
• Complete starter kit
Best Oboe Brand for Intermediate and Advanced Players
Fox is known for making some of the best intermediate instruments for both oboists and bassoonists. Their intermediate model 330 is a great instrument for a serious middle or high school student.
• Highly rated
• High-quality sound
Best Oboe Brand for Professionals
Loree is the most common oboe brand used by professionals. This oboe maker is based in Paris and has a few different professional models. We recommend the d’Amore model.
• Beautiful sound
• Look amazing
A Few Things to Watch For When Buying an Oboe
Buying an oboe from any of the oboe brands on this list can be a great investment. If the instrument is used but has been well taken care of, it could very well be worthwhile. When considering buying a used oboe, make sure that someone you trust is helping you try out the oboe and decide if it is of good quality. Oboes (especially wooden oboes) are handmade, and even within each brand, there is a lot of variation from instrument to instrument. You want to make sure you get one that is good quality and works well for you specifically.
Student model oboes are usually made of plastic – which makes maintaining the instrument much, much easier and means you don’t have to worry as much about weather changes or cracking. Student instruments also often have a few fewer keys, as well – they don’t have a left-F key, or a low-B-flat key. These are not usually much of a problem to do without as a young player, though intermediate and advanced players will definitely need those keys eventually, and will probably prefer the sound of a wooden instrument.
Another thing to note is that the reed that you are using is a big factor in the sound that you produce when you play the oboe. Someone playing an oboe that is “bad”, but who has a good reed, could easily sound much better than someone playing a very good oboe with a very bad reed.
Like most woodwind instruments, the type of material used to make the instrument is a big factor in how it sounds. Pretty much all professional model oboes are made of wood, and of those, most are made of a specific kind of hard, dense, wood called Grenadilla. There are also a few other kinds that are less common, but very cool – these include cocobolo, snakewood, kingwood, rosewood, and violetwood.
Where to Buy Oboes
People often buy oboes from third-party sellers. Amazon has a limited supply of oboes and eBay mostly has used oboes for sale.
For instance, RDG Woodwinds is a company that sells reeds, reed making materials, music, and instruments. They have some new instruments from Loree, Marigaux, and Buffet, as well as used instruments from those makers as well as various others. The new instruments they often get directly from the oboe makers, which is helpful because it is easier to be in contact with these people than to be in communication with a company based out of Paris.
Another one of these third party sellers is Midwest Musical Imports, which carries new instruments from Lorée, Marigaux, Howarth, Buffet, and Fox, as well as used instruments, and many of the other products (reeds and reed supplies) that RDG sells.
Woodwind Brasswind is another place you could go online to buy an oboe. They have a fairly large selection, with many different types of oboes. They also have many more student model types of instruments than the others. They carry Fox, Selmer, Yamaha, Buffet, and Jupiter, just to name a few.
Recommended For: Beginner
ammoon is a great oboe brand for beginners since the instruments only cost a few hundred dollars instead of thousands and act as great introductory oboes for students to test whether they want to continue playing oboe.
The oboes are able to achieve their lower cost by being made of synthetic wood or bakelite (plastic) which of course affects their sound. We recommend this brand if you’re testing to see whether oboe is the right instrument for your student. If your student is sure that they want to play oboe, then one of the brands below will be a better fit.
Recommended For: Intermediate/Advanced
Fox is known for making some of the best intermediate instruments for both oboists and bassoonists. Their intermediate model 330 is a great instrument for a serious middle or high school student. They also have many other models, including some impressive professional instruments and more beginner models.
Recommended For: Professional
When most people mention professional oboe, they are referring to a Loree oboe. Loree oboes are made in Paris from the highest-quality materials and produce a beautiful tone that fits any performance situation.
Oboe players can choose either a Standard or AK (American) bore. The AK bore will give the oboe a darker and more focused tone with less edge.
Recommended For: Intermediate/Advanced
Yamaha is another company that makes good intermediate and professional oboes. They have a wide variety of levels and prices for models that range from student to professional models, some that are made of plastic, and some made of wood.
The professional models are played by various orchestral players in big-name orchestras, while many students start out or play for years on student or intermediate brands. Yamaha is definitely notable and worth giving a look at if you’re looking for an instrument.
Recommended For: Beginner/Intermediate
Buffet is most widely known for being a maker of top-quality professional clarinets, but they also make a few models of oboe. They have mostly professional models, and also a student instrument.
Recommended For: Beginner/Intermediate
RS Berkeley makes great student oboes, especially on the introductory level. The oboes are well-priced for the quality. The key mechanism on the oboe is smooth and comfortable to the hands so students can get accustomed to it.
The oboes are made from ebonite that is resistant to cracks and moisture. The oboes produce a rich and full tone, with excellent sound projection that works well in all performance situations