The ocarina is a vessel flute-style wind instrument popularized by the Legend of Zelda video game series. The instrument has been historically used in Chinese and Mesoamerican music and has seen use in chamber music, orchestral composition, and solo performances.
Though the ocarina isn't an overly popular instrument, there are still plenty of options to choose from. In this article, we’ll consider the top 5 best ocarina brands in the world today.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of ocarinas
- Performance of the ocarinas
- Longevity of the ocarinas
- Accessibility of the ocarina (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company/brand must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 5 best ocarina brands in the world are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 5 best ocarina brands for music and audio production. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example ocarina, and a link to their official website.
Focalink is one of the best-known ocarina brands in the world today. Indeed, the company’s ocarinas started being manufactured and sold only to music lovers in Taiwan. Still, soon after their first batch, the demand was so high the company started manufacturing larger quantities and shipping them to every corner of the planet. For example, Europe, the USA, and the rest of Asia are among the company’s best clients.
Since Focalink also offers a yearly festival where players the size of Satoshi Osawa, Zhou Zilei (considered the best ocarina player in China currently), and the ocarina quartet directed by the Taiwanese Liu Yongta show the wonders of Focalink ocarinas to a roaring crowd.
Focalink is one of the biggest names in the world for ocarinas today; give them a try before you buy.
Notable ocarina: Focalink 12-note Ocarina (link to check the price on Amazon)
This model is made after the first double-chamber ocarinas that originated in China. These ocarinas allowed players to play chords for the first time, enhancing the instrument's musical span and tone palette grandly. In this case, the hole specially made for the human finger can expand the sound range by 17 degrees. Moreover, the same feature will allow you to play chords. Finally, the entire instrument is covered with raw lacquer, which is rich in texture and gives it a mellow, sweet sound.
Official website: focalink.com.tw
Focalink was founded in 2018. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Durian is an artist, ceramicist, backpacker, and adventurer. Above all that, he is an ocarina lover. Indeed, his first teacher showed him the craft in 1989, and from that moment on, he travelled the world making and selling ocarinas for a living in every city he visited. Moreover, he learned old ceramicist secrets in Greece, Israel, India, and Turkey before moving back to the USA.
After crafting and playing ocarinas for a lifetime, Durian has learned every secret of what makes a great instrument. Furthermore, every design in his company results from decades of trial and error.
Nowadays, every Songbird ocarina is a great-sounding instrument ready to give years of blowing fun to the lucky buyer.
This triple-chamber ocarina allows the player 21 chromatic notes that range from low A to high G. Moreover, if you play multiple chambers together, you can obtain certain chords as well. The instrument, though, is in the key of Bass C and falls into the category of “forte” because of the loudness it can generate. In this vein, the increased loudness is perfectly balanced throughout the entire range. Finally, the company utilizes a unique straw firing process to ensure perfect pitch at all times.
Official website: songbirdocarina.com
Songbird Ocarinas was founded by Durian Songbird in 1989. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Los Angeles, California, USA.
STL was founded by two St Louis School of Music members to raise global awareness about the benefits of becoming an ocarina player. Furthermore, Dennis Yeh received the title of Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance at the University of Illinois, which means he’s got an utterly refined ear for music at all levels. This ability to distinguish good-sounding, in tune from non-musical ocarinas gave the company a competitive advantage from the first moment.
In the same vein, the fact that both founders are music teachers adds an element of passion for sharing and teaching music to an already greatly-curated catalogue.
Notable ocarina: Zelda Double Ocarina (link to check the price at STL Ocarina)
Zelda fans and music lovers will find this instrument a great addition to their collection. To begin with, it features the Triforce golden triangle on the chrome band. Also, it is handcrafted from glazed high-grade ceramic and finished in rich blue. Furthermore, the 2-octaves range from A4 to C7 covers a vast sonic ground to play whatever music you like, including all Zelda classics. Finally, professionals tune the instrument before being shipped, offering the player clear, brilliant, in-tune sounds.
Official website: stlocarina.com
STL Ocarinas was founded by Laura Yeh and Dr. Dennis Yeh in 2005. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Noble Ocarina’s history dates back to September 2003, when the company started making ocarinas that could create lyrical sounds reminiscent of fantasy worlds. They were received with critical acclaim in Asia, and ten years later, the company grew to become what we know today as Noble Ocarina Co., Ltd. in 2012.
From that moment on, utilizing an environmentally-safe approach, the company grew to own a manufacturing facility in China. It expanded its catalogue to include every model, from the most inexpensive instrument to state-of-the-art high-grade ocarinas.
If you want to have an instrument that exudes tone and represents the best Korean precision, give Noble Ocarina a chance.
Notable ocarina: Noble Ocarina Soprano-C (link to check the price on Amazon)
This ocarina is entirely made of top-grade ceramics and can go from low A to high C. This is an innovation from the brand since this soprano ocarina is the first of its kind in which a player can play C in three different octaves. Moreover, the sounds remain balanced at all times so that you can play the entire register, and it will sound mellow and musical throughout the spectrum. Finally, it comes equipped with a dedicated bag to carry it everywhere safely.
Official website: nobleocarina.en.ec21.com
Noble Ocarina was founded in 2003. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea.
The company was initially set up in Taiwan in the late 1980s and was dedicated completely to the business of music education for over 30 years. During that time, Woodnote saw countless aspiring musicians fulfill their goals and walk on stages around the world to leave audiences in awe.
Still, their commitment toward beginners needed one step more; to grant them usable, in-tune ocarinas to learn that wouldn’t cost a fortune or be a toy. To pursue this new goal, Woodnote Music USA was born.
But it wasn’t just a new company; on the contrary, it was born with the leverage and experience of three decades dedicated to students. Thus, what you can expect from Woodnote is great-sounding ocarinas made to last for the starting player.
Notable ocarina: Woodnote Pro Ceramic Model (link to check the price on Amazon)
This 12-hole Alto C ocarina model is made entirely in ceramic with a treatment of Kiln-fire in Taiwan. As a result, it is a brilliant-sounding instrument with sweet lows and singing highs ready to play any melody. Speaking of which, Woodnote includes a fingering chart inside the box as well as an ocarina bag so you can learn how to play your favourite songs and take your instrument with you everywhere without worrying about its protection. Finally, the company ships them worldwide.
Official website: woodnotemusic-usa.com
Woodnote Music was founded in 2005 by Taco Hsu. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in El Monte, California, USA.