Choosing And Ocarina Isn’t Easy

If you are new to ocarinas, you might be slightly confused. By contrast with the other instruments, similar ocarinas play differently due to their sizes and shapes. In this article, we’ll try to give an overview of the features to help you choose your first ocarina. We’ll start with itemizing the different types, but it is essential to invest in quality above all else. A low-quality ocarina makes it practically impossible to play well.

The Look

Sculpted Pendant
A Sculpted Pendant

You should choose a simple ocarina at first and avoid sculptural ones. They may look artistic but sacrifice playability.

The Tuning

Fully untuned ocarinas are easy to see because all of their holes are precisely the same size. It is impossible to learn to play on an instrument that is poorly tuned, and it often leads beginners to fault themselves for poor results.


Playing the ocarina well often comes down to comfort. As everyone’s hands are different, you may find some instruments more playable than the others. It is important to note that the smaller the ocarina is, the higher-pitched it will be — the spacing of the finger holes players a significant role in the pitch. When the ocarina suits you well, your wrists can easily remain straight.


Ceramic clay ocarinas often have a sharp and bright tone. Shaped and tuned when the clay is still soft, the artist fashioning them must pay very close attention to ensuring that they remain playable when fired. These ocarinas are usually painted or otherwise decorated, and tend to look quite lovely, but are fragile and sometimes costly.

Wooden Ocarinas – While there’s not specific wood for creating a wooden ocarina, maple and oak are common. This material may bring out a slightly deeper tone. These ocarinas require maintenance, as they must be oiled- both inside and out- or risk losing quality over time. Some people also prefer wood ocarina because of innate durability, if not only for the aesthetic.

Plastic Ocarina – The simplest, and cheapest, option for an ocarina is plastic. The material plays a bit more shrilly, but also have the highest durability and the lowest cost- hence advisable for children. Still, plastic is not highly recommended for beginners as the sound itself may be less than satisfactory for most adult players.


Basic Pendant Ocarina
Basic Pendant Ocarina

Pendant Ocarinas – most commonly have an English fingering system, which means that they are 4 or 6 hole ocarinas. Much more rare are the Peruvian pendant styles with 8 or 9 holes and used for folk ceremonies. The pendant ocarina is often believed to be easier to play due to the reduced number of holes, although a reduced range also requires additional skill to overcome in some instances. Real advantages of the pendant are the portability, abundance of 6 hole ocarina sheet music, and lower price.

Inline Ocarinas – rectangular, light, straight, and typically have eight or more holes. They have the benefit of uniqueness, but they are not recommended for beginners as ocarina tabs and accessories are much harder to find for them. It may also be true that these ocarinas are a bit more expensive.

Sweet Potato Ocarinas – can be made of any material and have an oval (potato) shape with a protruding mouth hole. The most common hole count is between eight and twelve. 12 hole ocarina sheet music for the sweet potato is one of the most abundant, and the price for these tends to be lower as they are only slightly less common than the pendant.

Multi-Chambered Ocarinas – such as the double and triple, are for those that already have some experience. The advantage of extra chambers is simply an expanded range, which does not apply to the majority of songs. A great deal of concentration and effort go into playing this beautiful style, making it an excellent addition to a collection but not an initial purchase.

Ocarina “Voices”

Alto Sweet Potato
Alto Sweet Potato

A soprano ocarina is rather small to help produce high, pure, but slightly husk tones. These ocarinas have anywhere from 4 to 12 holes and playing them requires excellent breath control.

An alto ocarina, similarly to the soprano ocarina, has a wide range of available holes. The sound is lower and thicker, and some would say smoother.

A tenor ocarina, again with different styles and shapes, holds a 1 to 1.5-octave range. They are often considered the most demanding to play. The sound is pleasant and soft.

A bass ocarina is a heftier professional instrument for skilled players. The holes are several millimeters larger in circumference than the others, making them more comfortable for bigger fingers. For a bass ocarina to produce an attractive sound, healthy lungs are a must.

Learning to play the ocarina usually ends up with the musician owning a substantially extensive collection of instruments. It isn’t easy to find the right one for every song, and that matches the playing style of every person. Just like every other worth hobby, playing the ocarina comes down commitment, and can be as expensive as you make it.

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