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.