Q: Is a clarinet bigger than a oboe?
A: the clarinet is much bigger then a oboe

One wonders why it matters, really. But I do wonder what they were measuring … what does “bigger” mean? Certainly we are “skinnier” and we have a narrower (and wonderfully conical) bore. But tip of reed to bell … I’m not sure if the clarinet is longer or not, and I’ve never bothered to compare the two that way, but “much bigger” doesn’t really sound right to me.

I only know we’re better.


Kidding. Maybe.


  1. Got me curious.

    Minus the clarinet mouthpiece and the oboe reed, my oboe is actually just barely longer than my B-flat clarinet (by a tenth of a centimeter). With mouthpiece and reed in place, the clarinet wins out by about a centimeter and a half. Not “much” bigger in either case.

    I also attempted a very quick-and-dirty volume calculation. Ignoring the clarinet mouthpiece and oboe reed, the oboe bore is around 450 cubic centimeters, and the clarinet is around 850. Nearly twice as big.

    As a woodwind professor, this counts as time spent on “scholarly activity.”


    If anyone smarter than me wants to check my math, I used these numbers and calculated each piece as a truncated cone:
    oboe body – 5mm at one end, 16mm at the other, 48cm long
    oboe bell – 16mm, 37mm, 11.5cm
    clarinet body – 14mm, 22mm, 50cm
    clarinet bell – 22mm, 58mm, 9.4cm

  2. I love it, Bret! And to get a professorial comment, too … well, impressive! I will not argue with your math. I will trust it completely! Math and I are not friends. 😉

    Thanks for the comment. I’m still trying to figure out how the person who responded to the question came up with “much” bigger. Odd.