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What Are the Different Types of Oboe Cases?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

Oboe cases generally are for one or two instruments and may be made of various materials, but usually are rectangular, curved-edged or bullet-shaped. They usually accommodate normal accessories. Some cases fit over the primary hard cases.

Perhaps the most common type among oboe cases is the single instrument case. They usually have enough room for a small three-reed oboe case along with the oboe, but not much else. The ideas with these cases are simplicity, maximum portability and compactness. They work well for most students.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

For more serious musicians who need oboe cases, the dual oboe case is often a better option. These cases have room enough for two oboes and two reed cases. They are designed to carry the oboist's primary oboe along with a "back-up" instrument. This lets the oboist plan well for problems that can occur with the primary oboe such as a sticking key or lost pad. The oboist also can select the oboe whose projection and overall tone is best suited for the performance venue.

Some musicians look for oboe cases that carry not just an oboe, but also an English horn. Oboists often are called on to cover English horn parts in ensembles, and in fact, some oboists switch back and forth between the English horn and oboe within the same composition. These cases eliminate the need for the oboist to waste space with two separate cases, making transport of both the oboe and English horn more manageable. Backstage where cases, purses, and coats sometimes have to fit into a relatively small greenroom, these cases are very convenient.

Regardless of the number of instruments held, most oboe cases are made either from nylon or leather. The hardness of these materials permits the oboist to protect his instrument or instruments to the highest degree. Internally, most oboe cases are fitted with shaped hard foam, over which the manufacturer places a soft material such as cloth or felt that will not scratch the oboe or English horn.

Oboe cases may be pure-rectangular, meaning they have right angles at all edges. Others are curved-rectangular, meaning the outside edges of the case taper downward to provide a sleeker look. A slightly less common option is the dome-end case. These cases apply mainly to the oboe-English horn combination. They are rectangular except on one end, which is instead shaped somewhat like a semi-circle. Some instrumentalists refer to this type of case affectionately as the "bullet pack."

Depending on the size and shape of the case, an oboe case may have one or two handles. Some pure rectangular cases also have room for sheet music. Larger cases almost always have an internal compartment for accessories such as a humidifier or swab. Some soft cases are made of nylon, vinyl or similar material and actually fit over the hard case. These cases, which often have individual compartments, usually have one or two shoulder straps and are designed to make carriage of the instrument easier.

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