If you’re thinking of buying a Yemenite shofar, but have never actually seen a one up close, and held it in your hands, the following tips will help you choose one that has the right look, feel and sound.
Yemenite Shofar Sizes
A kudu shofar normally measures somewhere between 20 inches and 50 inches, measured around the curve, from the mouthpiece to the aperture. Keep in mind that a very large kudu shofar, say 40″-50″ is also quite heavy. In fact, I have even seen musical appearances that include a shofar where a special stand was used so that the shofar player would not have to bear all the weight for an extended period of time.
A long shofar is also going to invariably be from a kudu antelope that was alive for many years, meaning some some marks on the back side of the shofar, near the aperture are very likely. Some people may actually prefer to have a shofar from an animal that has been around, that may have weathered some battles and tight situations. Others want a shofar with a smooth, even surface.
The shape of kudu shofars, unlike a ram’s horn shofar, does not vary significantly. However, some are curled more tightly, while others will be a bit straighter.
Usually around the mouthpiece you will find a lot of black, sometimes all black. The underside is often tan with reddish blotches and the top side is beaver brown.
A half-polished Yemenite shofar is completely polished near the mouthpiece and then along the remainder of the length, only on the underside. A fully polished shofar is smooth on all sides.
Where to buy a Yemenite shofar
If you plan to be in Israel, you may want to stop by some Judaica stores. Most will let you try to blow the shofar to text the sound. Keep in mind that a typical Judaica store may have a selection of a dozen ram’s horn shofars, but only two or three Yemenite shofars.
If you want to buy online, you can try Amazon and eBay, if you find a kudu shofar seller you feel confident with.
The other avenue is to go with a Judaica webstore or even a specialty shofar webstore. But keep in mind that most only have photos for illustrative purposes. One notable exception is Ben’s Tallit Shop. Otherwise you have to go to Amazon or eBay and hope you come upon a trustworthy seller.