Oboe/Reed scrape


Dear Geoffrey,

Could you give me any advice? I'm having 2 consistent problems with my reeds and think it is a scraping issue. First problem is that my 1st octave F is always very unstable and secondly, I have to lip up my 1st octave Bb, B and C as they always tend to 'sag' unless I apply excessive lip pressure. I'm quite happy with my set up - I'm using Loree staples and Jordanov gouged cane which I shape at -2. I know it must be something I'm doing / not doing when scraping as I've recently had some reed-making lessons and when my teachers have helped and adjusted my reeds with me using this set up, these problems do not occur!

Any advice or suggestions would be hugely appreciated!

All best,


Hi Liz

I am sorry to have been so long in replying to you. Life is extremely hectic at the moment and the weather isn't helping! Please accept my apologies.

Both of your problems suggest to me that you are scraping too much out of the heart of the reed. Reeds that are too soft therefore and freely vibrating tend to give problems with the middle F. Just so as I am in the right ball park. I assume that you mean the F on the top line of the stave which is commonly unstable. You then tell me that the 1st octave Bb, B and C sag so I assume that you mean the middle of the stave notes, not the high ones above the stave which would need the 2nd octave. It's just a nomenclature thing. I will presume this is what you mean.

If not email me on geoffrey@geoffreybridgeoboe.com

If you crow your reeds with the embouchure unformed and placed up to the binding when you blow, do you get a squeak anywhere near a C? If it is lower than a C by say a tone your reed is too soft. If it is higher then it is probably not scraped enough.
The F can be unstable if the tip is too long and flexible. So much depends on the design of the scrape. Is it a scrape with a bump behind it or do you endeavour to keep a very flat and even profile? How long is your scrape? 10mm or longer? Are you reeds tied on at the correct length for the width of the cane as it meets the staple. The Loree staples are quite narrow in the chimney and the -2 shape is quite broad. So make sure there is no overlap on the sides. Rule of thumb being the sides meet one turn before the string is level with the top of the staple. This is very important.
By the way where is your -2 shape coming from? Rigoutat or RDG or where?

The oboe and staple match is another factor to consider. Loree staples work well in Loree oboes (surprise!!) but are also OK with Marigaux. Not I find so good with Howarth and Rigoutat oboes which flourish with the Glotin staple or Chiarugi No5 which a well made copy. Flatness in the B/C area can occur with a narrow chimney staple and it might be worth trying a different staple dimension as in Glotin. What make of oboe are you using?

As you tell me that your teachers manage to improve things for you it suggests that you are over scraping and maybe not allowing the reeds to settle between stages of making. You are not by chance using a profiler are you? Sometimes they over-scrape the cane and you need to cut a minute sliver from the tip and move the heart of the reed back by doing so. That might be beneficial anyway.

Anyway try the crow test and see how that goes.
The ideal is a high C squeak, blowing with the reed up to the binding and also with the normal embouchure crow. This is hard to achieve but if you do you will know that your reed is balanced!  Talking of which - balance - make sure that both blades are identically scraped. That is also important. Same length, same profile. Make your tip as thin as it will go too. Often that cures quite a lot of problems as in effect the bit behind the tip becomes thicker in relation to the tip itself.

SO MUCH TO KNOW But stick with it you will get there.

Email me if I can help further.

Best wishes with it all



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Geoffrey Bridge


Professional oboist with many years experience. Former pupil of Leon Goossens. Solo artist for Arts Council of Great Britain. Freelance recitalist/broadcasting/orchestras. Former Head of woodwind teaching in Hampshire, England. Questions on repertoire, playing styles, reeds, cane selection and processing.


St Andrews University Royal College of Music, Aberdeen College of Education Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music General Teaching Council certificate Broadcast solo recitals/performed with major symphony orchestras/Music Club recitals/writings on double reed matters

Chairman and Trustee of the British Double Reed Society International Double Reed Society Association Hautbois Francais Orchestral Manager of Southern Pro Musica Orchestra/Aberdeen Sinfonietta

Double Reed News/Australasian Double Reed Society magazine/International Double Reed Society

LRAM, Cert Ed

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