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Oboe/Hardness Tester, wet or dry?


Hello Geoffrey,

Firstly, thank you for answering all the questions on this site and building up such a database of information for myself and other oboists to read!

My question is about the hardness tester. Do you personally measure the cane when it is dry or after it has been soaked for a while?
At the moment I'm soaking pre-gouged cane, gouging and then sorting into bundles based on hardness. After it drying I've been measuring again but as you would expect the measurements vary a little bit (1-2 numbers).
It's not a big difference but I guess there could be a bunch of cane in the bin (say a number 17) that could really be a 15/16 if it were measured in a different way.

Kind Regards,


Dear Matt

I always use the hardness tester dry after I have gouged the cane. I used to try testing at the pre-gouged stage (about 0.90mm ) but found the results inconsistent. However I feel that whichever you do - dry or wet - you will have a good impression of the density of the cane that you are testing.
It is the consistency of approach which is important. You will find with experience of testing and record keeping which density suits you in the final reed.

Testing certainly takes out a variable which before the invention of this machine left quite a lot more to chance.
I remember having to twist and tell a piece of gouged cane and try to intuit what the cane was like. And was I so often completely wrong??!

Best wishes



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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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