Oboe Supports & Rests

Do you experience discomfort whilst playing your oboe?  Unfortunately, for many oboists the answer to this is ‘yes’. The oboe is designed in a way that causes most of the instrument’s weight to be exerted on the player’s right-hand thumb, meaning ‘pain syndromes can occur as a result of thumb tension’ following a period of oboe playing. We all want to play our instruments more ergonomically, to make practising more enjoyable for ourselves and to achieve better playing results. Luckily, many products are currently on the market which aim to help with this, including specially-designed thumb rests, thumb rest cushions, slings, and instrument supports.

Many oboes come with adjustable thumb rests which can be moved according to the player’s physiology. An alternative to these are thumb rest cushions, which are usually made of soft rubber or foam to increase comfort and to help spread the oboe’s weight over a wider surface area. BG produce such cushions in two sizes- standard (A21) and large (A23)– to ensure a good fit on different oboes, whilst Protec make a similar product. The more substantial Protec cushion may offer players more support than the BG cushions, but could consequently feel overly bulky to some. At £3.00 at £4.30 each respectively, the BG and Protec cushions are certainly worth trying if you are experiencing thumb pain whilst playing.


Other low-cost and high quality oboe support products are the oboe My Grip (£8.90) and the Howarth Dutch thumb rests (£6.95). Rather than sliding over the thumb rest, the silicone My Grip sticks under the oboe’s thumb rest (with no glue necessary), giving the player a better grip on their instrument. Fitting over the oboe’s metal thumb rest, the width and thickness of the Dutch thumb rest offers much support to the player, in addition to assisting those with smaller hands to reach the oboe’s bottom E-flat, C, and C-sharp keys more easily.

Dutch Thumbrest

For those needing a more substantial amount of hand support whilst playing the oboe, Ton Kooiman’s oboe thumb rests, the Etude 3 and the Maestro II, are ‘designed for everyone who wants to play with less physical fatigue and much-improved results whilst maintaining good technique and a natural playing posture’.

Kooiman’s Etude 3 thumb rest (£38.00) is formed of a durable metal hook, covered in soft rubber for comfort purposes, which slots into a mounting slide on the back of the oboe. The slide allows the thumb rest (hook) to be fitted so that the player’s thumb sits opposite their index finger whilst playing. This shifts the pressure point of the oboe’s weight from the tip of the thumb to the space between the thumb’s joints, where it is easier to support the instrument. The Etude 3 gives oboists a firmer grip on their oboe due to its substantiality, whilst remaining lightweight. It is clearly designed ergonomically, preventing fatigue of the thumb and hand, and thus allowing faster movement of the fingers.

Ton Kooiman

The Kooiman ‘Maestro II’ metal thumb rest is marketed as ‘the most [sophisticated] thumb rest that can be adjusted to the individual anatomy of the musician!’ (tonkooiman.com). Whilst being considerably dearer than the Etude at £205, the Maestro II is formed of a hollow casing which has the additional benefit of being fully adjustable in all directions. The Maestro II also comes with two mounting slides, meaning the thumb rest can be used for two instruments (as well as the oboe, it will fit onto a recorder, English horn, oboe d’amore, or alto clarinet.)


Kooiman’s oboe thumb rests have received widely positive reviews, including from oboists suffering from conditions such as arthritis. In terms of choosing between the thumb rests, the Maestro II better suits those wanting more freedom of movement whilst playing, whilst the fixed-in-place Etude 3 offers more support. The ease of fitting a Kooiman thumb rest to your oboe will depend on whether existing holes can be used to screw the mounting slide on, or if new holes need to be fitted. For further advice on this, you can make an appointment with a Howarth oboe technician.

Although more commonly used with the cor anglais than the oboe, neck straps are useful for helping growing oboists to develop a good hand position and posture and are an alternative way of redistributing the oboe’s weight from the right hand thumb. BG’s oboe slings (£25.55) are made from thick cotton padding whilst Neotech’s comfort strap (£14.99) is made from top-grade leather. Both attach to the oboe with a nylon or elastic cord, and are designed to fit well onto all oboe thumb rests, including those without rings.

nylon-nonelastique-o33Neotech Sling











The oboe’s weight can also be supported from underneath by products such as a BHOB stand or WRIST. The BHOB stand (£66.00) is an extendable metal rod which attaches to the oboe’s thumb rest ring and sits on the chair between the player’s legs, whilst the WRIST (£153.00) clamps onto a music stand, then the oboe’s bell is supported by a spring-like arm. Whilst somewhat limiting the player’s mobility, these stands relieve the oboist’s hands and arms of much of their instrument’s weight.



If you feel that your playing experience could be improved by the use of any of the products mentioned in this article, please contact us in the Oboe Department at oboe@howarth.uk.com or 020 79352407, or feel free to come into our London showrooms.

All prices correct at time of printing.


About Howarth of London

Woodwind Specialists - Howarth are leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones and flutes. Makers of fine oboes, cors anglais & oboes d'amore.
This entry was posted in Double Reed Product Reviews, Howarth Oboe News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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