Oboe/Reed problem


Hi Geoffrey,
I have a big problem in reed making. It's mostly about tuning. So, I played on a Yamaha 831 oboes. Normally 443. I use Rouche cane from oboeshop.de, 10.5-11, 0.56-0.57, H70, Chiarugi 47 2. My finish length is 72 mm. i played on a short scrape reed, 10mm. What I always get is either the reed is hard to play (like I need a lot of air to play, not flexible for making smooth soft legato, too tiring, sounds airy), or it's easy but sharp (seems that the volume inside the reed is too small, so especially the 2nd register is way to sharp, and it's hard to get full stable tone). I've tried some ideas, also from you, but maybe it solve a problem and create another one. I've tried using some wider canes, H40, H79, and H56 and the result is the upper register become flat, also the low g, low f#, and middle c. I tried also using bigger staple, the 47 2+, but the general resistance of the reed become stronger, sometimes the low g and the middle c also become flat, and the sound seems not focused and projected enough for my taste. I've made my reed to 73 mm with both 47 2 and 48 2 staple, but it makes the sound airy, hard to play, and with 48 staple, the intonation is worse. Also sometimes by lengthen the scrape by 0.5 mm, but the 2nd octave f# mostly doesn't work.

Does this problem happen to oboist often? Or I don't know if it's just me playing with wrong technique, or might be that i hope too much from the reed instead of just play with it and try to adjust? Please help me, because, it's quite frustrating this problem. I'm looking forward for your answer. Thank you very much!

Best Regards,

Dear Billy

These things happen to oboists. It is the nature of the beast seems to me! I am sorry to learn of your frustrations but keep at it you will get there in the end.

Whenever this happens to me I look first at the cane. I have used Rouche cane which I process myself - gouging, shaping etc - and I have stopped using it for a while. I will then make reeds from standard gouge and shape - at the moment my standard is 11mm diameter gouged on a RDG machine which gives slightly thicker sides than those from a Michel machine for which I use a 10.5 diameter. These machines are set up for specific cane diameters. Michel for 10.5 and RDG for 11mm canes. Using the wrong diameter in the bed of these machines creates problems with gouge accuracy. For example if I put a 11mm cane in the Michel (bed is 10.5mm) the result is always a thinner gouge than I expect as the cane "sits" higher in the bed and the sides are very thin and unworkable. I find that the two diameters and machine produce canes I can use. The bigger diameter gives a closer reed but the sides being thicker keep them open and they work in practise. I also standardise the shape and use an middle size shape, RC12 is my current favourite from Le Roseau Chantant.

I will use two or three cane types - at the moment Chinese KGE cane, Turkish cane from Oboes.ch and Neuranter are working for me. The Turkish has been an eye opener for me and reeds from that source also good. My other strategy is to buy reeds from sources and see what works. I have had the Turkish Reeds and KGE French style and these have got me out of the odd reed drought when I have been busy playing and under reed stress!!

So in summary. Try different some cane and buy a few good reeds to see what works for you. Try to work with the reeds that you have and not force your embouchure too much - keep released!!

Best of luck 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.


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

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

Double Reed News/Australasian Double Reed Society magazine

LRAM, Cert Ed

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