Make oboe reeds stable.


How do I make oboe reeds stable?

The best way to make oboe reeds stable is by adjusting it to crow at C natural. You can crow the reed by placing the cane part into your mouth up to the thread, and blowing with progressively more pressure until a pitch is heard. The pitch that is heard should be a C. More octaves may come into the sound as more air is pushed through the reed.

If the reed is too open it will be play flat and crow flat.  The opening should be about the height of a dime. Soak the reed for 1–2 minutes in warm water to see the size of the opening, if it is larger than a dime   hold the reed closed between your thumb and pointer finger for 10–30 seconds. Crow the reed. It should be between a B and C natural, some players want a “B” some want a “C” depending on the amount of lip pressure that is preferred. I make reeds the be a slightly flat “C” and the pitch raises slightly as the reed is played on. A reed that is broken in should crow at a “C” for me. The reed can be adjusted slightly if flat without any tools. 

if the reed is still crowing too low after it has been squeezed closed place slight pressure directly above the thread where the cane (wood part) and staple (metal part under the thread) meet. Do not try to close the reed from back here but put a little pressure on the cane. This will raise the  overall pitch and provide greater stability to the high notes.

What is stability in oboe reeds?

Stability in an oboe reed is a measurement of how well the reed plays in tune throughout the full range. A stable reed will play octaves in tune without much embouchure change.  A stable reed will also hide the notes that have a tendency to stick out of the texture.

Test the stability

Put the reed in the oboe and play the G natural in two octaves. Note whether the reed needs to be rolled in with the embouchure. What do you need to change to play in tune? When we make oboe reeds stable they will not need less  influence from the oboist.

A wider shaped reed may need more influence than a narrow reed, but the reed should be close to in tune without much manipulation. This gets into the realm of personal preference.

happy oboe-ing

Making  oboe reeds more stable.
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Making oboe reeds more stable.
Making oboe reeds by crowing the reed is the best way to make oboe reeds more stable. This will allow better pitch, less need to bite, and better overall control of the oboe reed.
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. sue leininger says:

    I have enjoyed reading your oboe blog and greatly appreciate the fact that you are so willing to share your knowledge with everyone! I have heard conflicting advice on how to store reeds that are in the process of being made…open air? reed case? I have heard both. What are your thoughts?

    1. A.Lakota says:

      Hi Sue,
      I am glad my blog is of some value to you. I am happy to share what information I may have stumbled upon through experience.

      I tend not to be too dogmatic in my approach to most things oboe related, perhaps my students would think otherwise. I do not think there is absolute “right” or “wrong” way of doing most things. The storing of reeds is another one of those areas of “different strokes for different folks”. When I make reeds I tend to let them blow in the breeze without a case. This is a choice of practicality and not one of philosophy. I make hundreds of reeds every month and have hundreds of reeds in different stages at any time, so it is not so feasible for me to store them all in cases.
      I do not have very strong feelings about this one way or another, but I can hypothesize why someone else might take a stand one way or another. I think there are a few things to consider when deciding how to store your reeds.
      1.Protection of the delicate lil honkers. A broken reed is a sad reed no matter how you weigh it. so things to consider, do you have a safe place to store reeds outside of a case? A place away from a curious cat? In my case a puppy named Olive. someplace they will be safe from non-oboist intruders?

      2.Humidity. I expect that this would be where the pro-case folks and anti-case folks might have different opinions. I would think that reeds stored outside of the case might be more acclimated to the humidity in the air, and also have more access to the humidity in the air.
      The pro-case folks might say that they want to have more control over the humidity I suppose that there is an argument to be made about how much humidity builds up in the case, or the lack of humidity allowed in the case. Many oboists will keep reeds in a humidor to ensure an optimal level of humidity.

      With finished reed you would want the reeds to have access to more humidity in dry climates and less humidity in humid climates. I certainly notice that my reeds want to be too open and unruly during the most humid days of summer, and to closed during the dry days of winter.

      I do think that reeds will dry out quicker while being outside of a case, so perhaps other reed-makers feel that storing reeds in cases between scraping sessions allows the vascular bundles of the cane to shrink slower and improve the final product.

      I suppose those are my thoughts on the subject at the moment. Perhaps an experiment is in order, bruuu-haha!

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