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Should You Get A Wooden Ocarina?

Ocarinas have traditionally been made from clay, but today other materials are popular too, with wood being one of these. Wood ocarinas aren’t as common as clay and plastic ones, but they’re definitely worth checking out. Let’s take a look at the most common types of wooden ocarina, and some things to consider if you’re thinking of buying one.

Wood Ocarina Designs & Types

Ocarinas come in three common designs: transverse, pendant and inline. Wood ocarinas are most often of the inline and transverse types, although you can get wooden pendant ocarinas too. Different types of wood are used in ocarina manufacture, such as rosewood and walnut.

Transverse Wood Ocarinas

Transverse ocarinas are probably the best known shape for many people, and are sometimes known as sweet potato ocarinas, because they have a similar shape to this vegetable. These ocarinas are played while being held to the side, like a flute. They have holes arranged in rows, with one row covered by each hand. The number of holes varies between different instruments, although 10 and 12 hole models are popular. Wooden sweet potato ocarinas aren’t that common, although there are some nice ones available from here.

wood ocarina

Sweet Potato Zebrawood Ocarina from FairyRingMushroom Co.,
available from Amazon

Pendant Wood Ocarinas

Pendant ocarinas usually refers to English pendant instruments, which have four, five or six holes, and are played using a cross fingering system that’s a bit trickier to learn than the linear system used by most transverse ocarinas. As the name suggests, pendant ocarinas are relatively small in size, and can often be worn around the neck on a chain or cord. They’re played in the same position as a recorder, except the finger holes are positioned so the hands face each other. Pendant wood ocarinas are relatively rare, although they do exist – see this site, for example.

Inline Wooden Ocarinas

Inline ocarinas are a kind of hybrid of transverse and wood instruments. They use a linear fingering system that’s easy to learn, but are played in the same vertical position as pendant ocarinas, which makes them more comfortable foe many people than the transverse shape. You can get a nice selection of wood ocarinas in this style, such as those from here.

Size & Pitch

Like other ocarinas, wooden ocarinas come in a range of keys and sizes, from small sopranos to large basses. You can also get multi-chambered wood ocarinas.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Wood Ocarina

Tone – Wood ocarinas sometimes have a reputation for producing a more mellow tone than their ceramic or plastic counterparts. However, the material from which an ocarina is made doesn’t really have a large influence on its tone; rather it’s the shape and overall design that has the biggest effect on how the instrument sounds. Nonetheless, there may be subtle differences in some cases, and many people develop preferences for ocarinas made from particular materials.

Cost – Wood ocarinas are among the most expensive types, since they are more difficult to make. A good quality wood ocarina can set you back a few hundred dollars, with larger instruments and multi-chambered ocarinas naturally being more expensive. However, a good quality wood ocarina should last for a very long time, and will certainly provide a lot of pleasure as you play it.

Weight – Another advantage of wooden ocarinas is that they’re relatively lightweight compared to clay instruments. This makes them comfortable to play for longer periods, especially if they’re larger in size.

Selection – As mentioned earlier, wood ocarinas are less common than clay and plastic, and as such, there’s not such a large variety to choose from. You’re also unlikely to find them in your local music store, so buying online or by mail order may be necessary.

Appearance – The look of wood ocarinas will naturally depend on the wood they’re made from, with some being very beautiful. One nice thing is that every wood ocarina has a unique look, unlike those made from other materials. While an ocarina’s appearance shouldn’t be the most important consideration when making your choice, aesthetics do play a role for most people, and if you want a good looking ocarina, wood is one of the most attractive materials.

Care – Wood ocarinas aren’t breakable in the same way that clay models are, and are easy to carry around. However, wood ocarinas can be vulnerable to changes in humidity and temperature. Some people who live in a dry climate choose to use an instrument humidifier when storing their wood ocarinas, as wooden instruments can occasionally develop cracks if they’re allowed to dry out. However, good quality wood ocarinas are usually sealed, and if you’re playing regularly, the breath will keep the ocarina moist. If in doubt about the best way to care for your wood ocarina, it’s best to check with the place you bought it from. As with other types of ocarina, the windway should be kept free of condensation – do this by sucking out moisture after playing, or inserting a small piece of absorbent paper to soak up moisture.

Buying A Wood Ocarina

Wood ocarinas are harder to find than other types, so most people buy online. There are a number of sites that stock wooden ocarinas (see more about where to buy an ocarina), but you may want to check out Hind Ocarinas and Mountain Ocarina, both of which have a reputation for producing great quality instruments.

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