There are a lot of cleaning products out there for cleaning out your oboe. This blog post is going to assume that you have already decided that the Hodge silk swab is the best material for you. You have already decided that the qualities of silk being absorbent, lint free, and able to compress so that it can be pulled all the way through the oboe are what’s important to you. But then you have one more question thrust upon you that you must answer. Should I get the short one or the European-style long one?



The 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 out if necessary.

The European-style Long Oboe Swab

The European-style long silk oboe swab gets its name thanks to the European oboists that contacted Hodge Products asking for longer swabs like they were used to from the major European oboe manufacturers. These swabs look and feel just like the short oboe swabs, but stretch a little more than the entire length 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.

Comparison Chart


Short Oboe Swab

Long Oboe Swab

Pulls through fully assembled instrument


Cord for pulling back out if necessary



Plastic-coated straight weight



5 Color Options



Machine Washable in mesh bag



Price $10.50


Able to be pulled back and forth for more thorough swabbing of the bell end.    



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 time you play and during breaks for optimal oboe maintenance!

Ann Hodge is the president of Hodge Products, Inc. and the oboe and English horn specialist. She holds two Master of Music degrees: one in Oboe Performance and the other in Music History from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, completed in 1987 and a Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College (Ithaca, New York), completed in 1985. Ann was a freelance oboist in the Washington, D.C. area for many years and a member of the Arlington Symphony (Virginia) under the baton of Ruben Vartanyan from 1993-2008. She has spent many of the intervening years developing Hodge Products, Inc. and raising her family.

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