English horn vs Oboe – What’s the Difference?

The English horn and oboe might look the same but they do differ in a few ways. Because of their appearance, it is easy for people to confuse the two instruments. Their physical construction and sound are the main differences.

Do you know the difference between an English horn and an oboe? Many people don’t, and that’s understandable because they look very similar. Today, let’s discuss the differences between these two instruments.

Physical Differences

The physical construction differs between both instruments. The English horn is slightly longer than the oboe. Its reed is also wider and the shape of its bell is a bit different.

If you’re looking at the two instruments side-by-side, you’ll notice these slight differences more than when looking at them from afar. Because the difference is not huge, it’s understandable that people confuse the two.

Sound Quality

The more noticeable difference is their sound. The English Horn has a lower, more mellow sound than the oboe.

Oboes, on the other hand, are considered to have a “concert pitch”. This is why they’re often used in orchestras. Oboes have a higher pitch and produce smoother and darker sounds.

English Horn And Oboe Similarities

Despite their differences, the English horn and oboe are still very similar.

  • They’re both made of wood, most commonly grenadilla wood.
  • Both have a conical bore and use a double reed to produce sound.
  • They both come from the woodwind family and are used in a variety of genres including classical and jazz music.

A lot of people think that the English horn is just a larger version of the oboe. This is not an accurate assumption. Yes, they look similar and share many similarities, but they have key differences that set them apart.

Final Thoughts

The English horn and oboe are two very similar instruments that are often confused for one another. They look alike and share many similarities, but they do differ from each other.

The English horn is slightly longer than the oboe,  has a wider reed, and a different shaped bell. Their sound quality is also different. The English horn has a lower, more mellow sound. The oboe has a higher pitch and produces smoother and darker sounds.

It’s easy to see why people would confuse these two instruments.