Everybody's Favorite Oboe Reeds

Oboe Reed Making, Oboe Reed Maker, Best Oboe Reed Maker, Oboe Reed Making Philosophy

About Our Oboe Reeds

Is it possible to create an oboe reed that is "everybody's favorite"?  Every oboe reed maker is on the quest for the holy grail of oboe reeds. That includes me.  I work hard to make great reeds for players that play like me, and for others who do not. There are always obstacles to getting it right. Oboe reeds are fickle. Oboe cane is sensitive and variable. Oboe reed tips are hair thin with lots of opportunities for forced and unforced errors even under the knives of skilled reed makers. I know that every reed will always have its own personality, and there is the just right home for most reeds I make. If I don't like my results for you in particular, or other players with different requirements, I dismantle them, and start again. Yes, it happens to me too.  At least I can reuse the staple. I make multiple models and styles, including professional oboe reeds, intermediate oboe reeds, and student oboe reeds with enough varieties so that more players can choose a beautifully crafted oboe reed just right for them, and call our reeds their favorite.

This year, I added two new budget oboe reed brands to my menu that exceed market standards for most reeds on the market, and certainly those within their price points. They are First Chair Intermediate and Advanced Oboe Reeds, and Reed Monkey Student Oboe Reeds. They, too, are made from scratch in my shop. Their streamlined construction leaves extra room for a nuanced hand finishing.  They, too, are beautiful reeds with the lighter response that budding oboists seek. Best of all, more players will be able to afford the Magic Reed experience.

My Approach To Oboe Reed Making

My approach to oboe reed making starts with an understanding of how oboists blow either by developmental stage or by personal preference.  There is a range of production (blowing) styles, tonal preferences, and even schools of reed making from top professionals designed to support these preferences. I, too, have my own production style, and personal preference toward a beefier reed.  However, to be a successful professional oboe reed maker, I must be flexible in approach.  While my signature Magic Reed scrape is present in all of my reeds, each benefits from customized construction and nuanced scraping to achieve specific outcomes by model, including a lighter response.

That being said, I specialize in high end reeds, and I believe that experienced players deserve well structured oboe reeds with the beef and nuance to fully take advantage of their playing capabilities. I have studied/tested many options on the market, and realized that the market lacked highly nuanced reeds made from harder and denser oboe cane.  For me, harder cane permits much more nuance than softer cane, and for me, more consistent and superior results.  High volume reed makers avoid harder cane because it is more difficult to work with, produces lower yields because of possible cracking, and is generally more time intensive. I was happy to meet this challenge and establish a niche market, making my professional oboe reeds unique in the industry.

Oboe Cane And The Reed Making Process

Magic Reeds are handmade from scratch, and to order- with no outsourcing. Our process starts with outstanding oboe cane that is precision sorted and processed in-house for best results. Truly professional reeds start with great cane and a well constructed, leak free blank. These attributes cannot be assured with outsourced processed cane or blanks. I control cane strength and diameter shape to achieve my goals.
My pipeline management is the envy of the reed making community, and is essential to the rapid order turnaround that I promise.  I keep a long-term inventory of oboe cane in various strengths (medium-medium hard), sizes (10.5-11) densities and processing levels (tube, pre-gouged,gouged and shaped) to achieve various objectives (including aperture size which is fundamental to response).  I stay ahead of non-custom orders with a stash of blanks. Cane is processed with professional equipment- including Kunibert Gouger and multiple Reeds 'n Stuff and other shaper tips and forms.  I select my shape that is capable of producing a dark reed with great tone while managing pitch and response to create the darkest reed possible by model while managing pitch (currently Mack Pfeiffer). I only use professional Chiarugi #2 47 (or 46 mm) for professional reeds, and use a high quality natural cork staple for student-advanced reeds with opportunities for staple upgrades within the Magic Reed product line.

Oboe Reed Making Fundamentals

I employ the American long scrape in my oboe reeds, which is used almost exclusively in the USA. The reed is structured with a somewhat defined tip with an inverted soft V.  The tip has a medium to somewhat shorter length, defined heart and back (with windows). The definition between the back and the heart is pronounced, except for student reeds.  My heart has a thickness @ .4 (where we all measure it) with blending over the shoulders.  This is not a one size fits all system.  I never sacrifice tone and pitch in pursuit of the response needed by grade.  Extra drying/finishing cycles promote a better and more reliable rReed for you. 

My free blowing oboe reed combine medium strength cane in a larger diameter resulting in a smaller aperture.  Smaller apertures rely less on a strong or covered embouchure. Players will still need enough air speed and pressure to open the reed, and fibrate the fibers- but for most, it is less strenuous. The downside of highly response reeds with smaller apertures is a shorter lifespan. I prefer a medium to somewhat larger aperture and cannot play on reeds with small apertures that require more wind than I have to offer. I like the bigger and darker sound that can be achieved a larger aperture in combination with my  scrape.   When I make an oboe reed I have you in mind.  When I test a reed, I test it with an approximation of the embouchure and support system I think you have, based on the information you have given me.  I then adjust these reeds based on your set up not mine.  It seems to work.

My reeds simply perform better, last longer, and rarely require more than a light adjustment, which saves valuable lesson time.  Play a concert with more  assurance that your oboe reed will make it to the end, (as long it has not been over-played out in advance). My reeds may cost a little more because of how I make them, but you will place your orders less often than you think, and you will likely save money in the end.

Business Model

I have chosen a business model that keeps us small, highly focused, hands-on and relationship driven. We know that this is a winning formula for our customers because we plan for quality above all else.  I focus on products that are supported by our core competences, and that are truly differentiated in the market.  I don't think it is reasonable for buyers to wait 4-6 weeks for an oboe reed order to arrive.  Imagine being left without a serviceable reed the day before a concert.  As I have said, I plan ahead so you do not have to so much.  Best of all, we typically ship in 3-5 days, and include multiple drying cycles. This is the service I would want if I were on the market for handmade oboe reeds.