Where On Earth Should I Buy An Oboe Reed?
- by Kathy Sheinhouse
Oboe Reed Suppliers:
Choosing the right oboe reed supplier for yourself can be narrowed down a lot when you consider your geographic location relative to the location where the oboe reed is made. This is especially useful when all other variables from your different reed maker options seem to be equal.
The variable I would suggest you consider is geography relative to humidity. While no two geographic locations across the country are exactly the same, the closer you can match temperature, altitude and thus humidity, the better the probability that the reed will arrive with properties closely resembling what was actually shipped. When there is a serious mismatch, some beautiful reeds made in one place will be unplayable in another.
Some oboe reed makers address this by offering a range of cane diameters. After all, small diameters work best in high dry, and larger diameters work best is warm and wet, climates. Sometimes you can offset some of the changes you anticipate in shipping with diameter. But this is often not enough to offset the risks on the margins.
As an example, I make oboe reeds in New York. I actually discourage sales to dry and high altitude locations. It just doesn't work so well. I would prefer to lose a customer on the front end than on the back due to an unsatisfactory experience. That's just me.
If you are buying on-line and are interested in a particular oboe reed maker, take the next step and find out where they are made and at what altitude. You can increase your probability of a good match when you consider these factors. If you want to try them even though it is not an exact match, find out if they have diameter options that will increase the probability of a successful relationship.
About European Oboe Reeds:European oboe reeds are made differently than American reeds. They have a short scrape with different features, the slope of the gouge is different and they require a different embouchure than is normally taught here in the states. I think they sound beautiful. But they sound different from the American reeds, and when you play in an ensemble with other oboists, tones should generally match for best results. Something to think about when choosing a reed. You can easily spot them because the tip is not that defined, and the scrape is short. You can find them a lot in big box stores and on-line. I would stay away from them. Subscribe to Magic Reed to get announcements of new posts.