Hodge Products has two different silk oboe swab designs. “Should I get the standard one or the European-style long one?” people often ask. So to help you choose, here is a comparison of the two.

The Standard “Short” Oboe Swab

The difference between the two swab designs ultimately comes down to their sizes, specifically their lengths, and the price. A standard “short” silk oboe swab is just about the length of the main joints of an oboe, and it can easily be pulled all the way through the instrument. It also contains the other important characteristics of an oboe swab, i.e. plastic-coated straight weight at one end and a long cord at the other end to pull the swab back in case it gets stuck.

The European-style Long Oboe Swab

The European-style long silk oboe swab gets its name from the fact that the standard size of oboe swabs made by European oboe manufacturers was longer so European oboists were particular to this length. These swabs look and feel just like the short oboe swabs, but stretch well past both ends of the oboe. The swab can be pulled back and forth, if desired, allowing for a more thorough swabbing of the lower half of the instrument.

CharacteristicsShort Oboe SwabLong Oboe Swab
100% silk fabric (absorbent, lint free)XX
Pulls through fully assembled instrumentXX
Cord for pulling back out if necessaryXX
Plastic-coated straight weightXX
5 Color OptionsXX
Machine Washable in mesh bagXX
Able to be pulled back and forth for more thorough swabbing of the bell end.NoYes

To summarize, both swabs do essentially the same thing, clean out the oboe. But the long oboe swab has the option of pulling it back and forth in the oboe to do a more thorough job of the bell and lower joint, and, due to the larger quantity of silk, is a higher price. Whether you choose the short swab or the long one, just be sure to use it after each playing session for optimal care of your oboe!

Ann is the owner/president of Hodge Products, Inc. and a professional oboist.

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