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5 Tips To Improve Oboe Reed Making Results

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse

 The objective of any oboe reed maker is to tame the reed through blank construction and scraping skills to achieve a result that matches your particular playing preferences. Here are some suggestions based on my experience as a professional oboe reed maker.

1) Make sure that the cane strength (including density) and diameter match your needs. Cane diameters that are too small result in larger apertures. Alternatively, large diameter cane results in smaller apertures, all things being equal. However, geography matters. Higher altitudes and dry climates shrink the fibers more when dried and alter the hardness and the aperture size.

2) Don't use a cookie cutter approach to reed making. Let the cane and the reed tell you what it needs and its potential as a finished reed. As an example, I don't assign and color code oboe reeds until after the fold of the shaped piece of cane. I use my fingers to judge the density and flexibility, and I use my eyes to assess the fold and expected aperture size when finished.

3) Have you been told to clip every blank? I always do a light scrape and expose the bark of every blank I make (unless it is to be sold as a clean blank). I decide whether to clip it based on its properties. Those blanks with the probability of small apertures get clipped. Those with a probability of apertures larger than I prefer do not get clipped in order to contain the aperture size for a longer period of time.

4) Manage your scrape based on both response and aperture size. If the aperture need to be more open, I scrape cane more in the middle of the reed just behind the heart, and also in the middle of the tip. If it needs to be closed, If fan out more toward the rails, and take out more in the four corners of the tip.

5) A settled reed is almost always a better reed. Make reeds in multiple sessions. It provides more information about what the reed needs next, and will improve stability and reliability over time.


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