The oboe is a double-reed woodwind instrument. The distinctive oboe tone is versatile, and has been described as “bright.” When the term oboe is used alone, it generally means the standard oboe rather than other instruments of the family, such as the English horn (a larger oboe) or the oboe d'amore (larger than a standard oboe, but smaller than an English horn). A musician who plays the oboe is called an "oboist" or simply an "oboe player."
The pitch of the regular oboe is affected by the way in which the reed is constructed, which has a significant effect on the sound of the instrument. Most oboists make their own reeds by hand with pieces of cane and a toolkit, a very difficult process to learn and perfect.
Orchestras normally tune to a concert A played by the oboe, since the pitch of the oboe is secure and its penetrating sound makes it ideal for tuning purposes. However, in most concert bands, the pitch is given by the principal B♭ clarinet, as the Kitauji Concert Band does.
A concert band usually has one or two oboe players, although some bands may have up to three or even four. One or two of these players will usually double on English horn when necessary, although the Kitauji Concert Band does not perform any repertoire that requires an English horn.
In young school bands, teachers do not typically allow students to start directly on oboe lessons because of the instrument's difficulty. Most oboists in school bands begin on clarinet or flute in elementary or middle school before switching to oboe after a year or two on an easier instrument.
As portrayed in Hibike! Euphonium
Mizore Yoroizuka is the only oboe player in the Kitauji Concert Band and is shown to be an excellent player.
- Orchestral oboists are stereotyped as being extremely arrogant, since in an orchestra the oboe is the de facto leader of the entire woodwind section, and also tunes the orchestra.
- Concert band oboists are stereotyped as being shy and quiet loners who do not interact much with other band members, perhaps with the exception of the principal flutist or other flutists.