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Beginner’s Guide to Woodwind Instruments [Infographic]

Use this graphic to choose the best instrument for you.

Whether you're an adult learning an instrument for the first time or a parent helping your child choose an instrument, deciding between so many options can seem overwhelming. Here are the basic features, accessories, and maintenance tips for flute, clarinet, saxophone, and oboe to help you choose between our woodwinds instrument offerings. 

Get the basics on woodwind instruments in our helpful infographic.


  • Features: The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments and is great for beginners because it's small and portable, easy to assemble and disassemble, and simple to clean and maintain. It's also a non-transposing instrument, meaning flute music is relatively easy to read.
  • Accessories: You'll need cleaning papers and optionally a silver polishing cloth, as well as a swabbing cloth and hard-sided case if the flute doesn't come with one.
  • Maintenance: Care requirements are light – just swab your flute out after each use and brush your teeth before playing.


  • Features: The clarinet is made of a type of rare African wood. Many students enjoy playing the clarinet because of its range of dynamics and the multitude of different playing styles available range of musical expression. It's also a beautiful instrument and is easily portable.
  • Accessories: Purchase reeds, a neck strap, swab, and possibly an instrument stand depending on playing habits.
  • Maintenance: In addition to caring for and occasionally replacing your reeds, caring for the clarinet includes wiping it out after use, cleaning your mouthpiece with water, and using cork grease as needed.


  • Features: The saxophone was designed with an intuitive fingering system that's easy for beginners to learn. It's versatile as well as portable and highly expressive, and it even comes in multiple sizes. 
  • Accessories: Essentials include reeds, mouthpieces, neck straps, thumb rests, swabs, and reed cases.
  • Maintenance: Annual maintenance, saxophone care includes drying the instrument out after each use and applying cork grease and pad cleaning papers when necessary. 


  • Features: The entire orchestra tunes to the oboe at concerts. It's also one of only two types of double reed instruments in the modern orchestra (the other is the bassoon). Oboe players can enjoy a much smaller playing field; fewer people learn the oboe, so if you do so you'll experience less competition.
  • Accessories: In addition to a good hard-sided case, you'll need a constant supply of double reeds as well as a good swab and some cleaning papers.
  • Maintenance: Besides swabbing (and rinsing your mouth out before playing), maintenance includes occasional cork grease and careful storage.

For more help selecting the right woodwinds instrument for you or your child, visit our Fitchburg showroom or contact us today to learn more about the selection we offer both instruments for sale and instruments for rent.

Interested in learning about more instruments? Meet the brass instruments and percussion instruments families.