What Is the Difference between a Bassoon and Oboe?

Although both the bassoon and the oboe are double-reed woodwind instruments, they have several significant differences that set them apart. When comparing the two instruments, the size, shape, and placement of the mouthpiece are just a few of the differences that stand out right away. The sounds of the bassoon and oboe are also distinct, with the bassoon playing in a lower register than the oboe. Although student versions of both instruments are frequently made of durable resin plastic, higher-quality models for experienced musicians are made of a variety of wood species. The keying systems, as well as the way the instruments are held, are very different between the two instruments.

There are several differences between the bassoon and the oboe when they are compared side side. Each instrument has a distinct overall appearance. The bassoon is much larger than the oboe, and it’s made of tubing that’s bent in an uneven U-shape and measures about 7 to 8 feet (approximately 2.13 to 2.44 meters). The hooked mouthpiece is attached to the shorter, narrower side about halfway up the instrument’s length; the other end is much wider and extends beyond the mouthpiece. The oboe is made up of a single, straight piece of tubing that flares out in a slight bell shape at the bottom and is topped with a mouthpiece and reed.

When the musician blows air into the double reed on the bassoon or oboe, vibrations resonate inside the tubing, resulting in sound. Each instrument has its own distinctive tone and range. Except for the larger contrabassoon, the bassoon can play in a very low register, producing the lowest sound among the woodwind family of instruments. The oboe can play higher notes, and its sound has been compared to that of a duck, with a very clear tone that stands out among the orchestra’s other instruments. Both instruments are known for their ability to express themselves.

Because resin plastic is durable, student versions of both instruments are usually made of it. More experienced musicians usually opt for a higher-quality instrument. Different types of wood are used to make the bassoon and oboe. The bassoon is commonly made of maple, but it can also be made of other medium-hard woods. The most common wood used to make the oboe is African Blackwood, also known as grenadilla.

Each instrument has its own set of keys. To produce specific notes, the keys are used in conjunction with fingers to cover the holes in the instrument’s tubing. The bassoon has fewer keys, whereas the oboe has a large number of them, with about 45 complex pieces of keywork.

Both the bassoon and the oboe are held differently. The bassoon is held to the side of the musician due to its size, with additional support such as a chair or neck strap. Because the oboe is so small, the musician can usually hold it in front of his or her body.