Oboe Reeds and Reedmaking


Making your best oboe reed each time is every reed maker's dream, and an unattainable lifetime pursuit- but we still try.   Great oboe reeds are made when a reed maker combines knowledge of reed structure and reed function with knife and other skills to actually create one that does what it is supposed to do.  It also requires good enough oboe skills and a well developed ear to test and adjust for balance of the parts.  Learning how to make reeds is a lifetime process and a humbling experience because we are working in centimeters and there isn't much room for mistakes.  We collected reed samples from around the internet to provide differential information about reed styles.

The oboe reed making tips found here are drawn from links to our own blog as well as to trusted outside reed clinic transcripts.  There is always something to learn!

Handmade Reed Making Process (KS)

Excellent Reed Clinic Transcription

Reed Making Clinic Strommen/Douvas-1

Reed Styles-"Different Strokes For Different Folks"

Magic Reed


Our reed is designed with a defined, but not sharply define tip; extra beef in the heart, and a long American scrape.  The length of our tip is 2 mm above the tip of the inverted V.

European Scrape


Notice the short scrape without a defined tip.  There are lots of Europeans who sound great on better versions, but they are more difficult to mange.  The nature of the scrape is a telltale sign that it is machine made (most likely in a factory). The wires are an artificial means of preventing leaks, and, to me, would be unacceptable on an American reed. 

High Definition


This is a highly defined reed with a beefy heart, and a highly defined and fairly long tip.  Notice that the rails have not been scraped (extra structure), but there is not much evidence of a spine.

Extra Spine and Rails In The Heart


This reed has a longer tip that is highly defined tip, and without tapering.  This tip counter balances the heart which has an extremely thick spine and rail.

Plastic Reed-European Style


While there are serious attempts to manufacture American style plastic reeds, we are not there yet  There is some success in the European version.  Generally, they are not recommended because they lack the flexibility we need to achieve the tone and control we seek in the USA.  Take not that the staple is student grade and that the top of the thread flares.  This flare is a NO NO with cane reeds, and will undoubtedly lead to severe leaks.  

A Reed Without Definition


Notice that none of the parts are defined, including the heart.  The tip is long. This absence of structure could adversely impact all of functional requirements of a professional reed, but may be suitable for student reeds.

Oboe Reed Architecture

Overall American Reed Structure


This is one of the best images of the architectural diagramming.  Remember, there is nothing carved in stone with oboe reeds, because every slip of cane is different.  But, these are directional targets for this particular player.  Work with your teacher to learn their's.  If you are starting from scratch use a dial micrometer and take measurements of you or your teacher's best reed.   Learn how many strokes are needed by part, and make each quadrant the same.

Treatment of Tips


These templates share the same spine, same American length and tip dimension (length and inverted V).  They do not show the heart, which is an important component of reeds we like.  What it does best is illustrates the degree of definition in the tip.  It does not address the tapering of the tip.

Ralph Gomberg


This is an older Boston style oboe reed, played by Ralph Romberg, principal oboist in Boston Symphony for over 30 years.

A Must Have In Your Library


An excellent "how to" book.

Excellent General Education


Magnified pictures aren't pretty, but you will get the idea.

All In One Reed Making Resouce


Everything you need to know in two volumes.