- in Gear by Bobby Owsinski
You Won’t Believe How Complex An Oboe Is
If you thought that crafting an electric guitar was rather complex, you haven’t seen anything yet. When it comes to musical instruments, nothing beats an oboe for complexity. Not only that, they’re made from only one species of endangered African hardwood and can take up to 5 years to make. No wonder they cost so much (around $14k).
Unlike other musical instruments, oboes sometimes have their wood crack during use. African hardwood works the best but it’s only available from one forest in Tanzania, and it’s endangered so only trees that or 60 years old or older are harvested.
Then it takes a team of expert craftsman using some precision woodworking tools to build a quality instrument. And talk about QC, it may take 3 days to fine-tune an oboe, since the slightest air leak will render the instrument almost useless. This is why Howarth of London, where the video below was made, makes only 800 a year, and only 200 are considered professional grade.
It’s been estimated that there are fewer than 20,000 of these instruments made every year. Considering that some guitar manufacturers do that in a week, you can see how rare the instrument is.
Many consider the oboe to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn how to play, with a huge learning curve (so that’s why there aren’t as many oboe players as guitar players 😋), which keeps the demand down.
Check out this video to see all that goes into the building of an oboe.