Professional Oboe Reed Making- Behind The Scenes

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse

 Professional Oboe Reed Making- Behind The Scenes


Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a professional oboe reed maker? Let's dive into the intricate world of crafting these essential components for oboists around the world.

What does it take to become a professional oboe reed maker?

Becoming a professional oboe reed maker requires a deep understanding of the oboe instrument and its unique reed. It takes years of practice and dedication to master the art of crafting reeds that produce the perfect sound.

What is the process of making oboe reeds?

The process of making oboe reeds is complex and requires precision. It involves selecting the right cane, shaping, scraping, and adjusting the reed to achieve the desired tone and response. Each step must be carefully executed to ensure the reed performs optimally.

Why are professional oboe reed makers essential?

Professional oboe reed makers play a crucial role in the music industry by providing high-quality reeds that enhance the performance of oboists. A well-crafted reed can make a significant difference in the sound and playability of the instrument. While some players learn to make reeds themselves and become self-sufficient.  Most do not, and require the services of professionals to meet their needs.

What challenges do professional oboe reed makers face?

Professional oboe reed makers face challenges such as sourcing quality cane, maintaining consistency in their reeds, and meeting the demands of oboists with varying preferences. It requires constant innovation and skill refinement to stay competitive in the market.

What are the business aspects of being an oboe reed maker?

To have a successful business, one needs to invest in a website, including ongoing maintenance, content management, and SEO to establish the authority needed for on-line visibility.  Social media campaigns take time, effort and money. This costs thousands of dollars a year to outsource or hundreds of hours of time to do oneself. The reed making equipment needed for the business could be $10000, and maintenance (oboes, horns and gougers, shapers, etc) can be expensive. Back-up instruments and equipment are necessary because access to repair on demand is rare. Orders need to be received, processed, filled, packaged and shipped. Inquiries must be answered, and customer service issues must be addressed. Access to high quality oboe cane cannot be assured, so significant investments may be necessary when a brand is at its best, and this must be done direct from the overseas grower. While there are staple suppliers in the US, I have found it necessary to go overseas for the quality and consistency I need to produce reeds that meet my standards. Purchasing professional supplies domestically is unsustainable because of the cost of going through middlemen, but may be necessary when getting started.  This is not a part time effort for those dedicated to their business, and not for the faint of heart. I start my day early checking mail, printing orders and end late at night with website and SEO activity. It is hard to imagine being successful if just pursuing this as a side job for extra money.

Being a professional oboe reed maker is a labor of love that requires patience, dedication, and a deep passion for the craft. The next time you hear the beautiful sound of an oboe, remember the skilled hands and the hard work behind the reed that make it all possible.

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