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Oboe/view on all-brass staples and "Nissen"-staples


Dear Geoffrey,

your answer (helpful advice included) to a recent question concerning ill-fitting staples set me on the topic of those newfangled all-brass or plastic-clad staples. A friend of mine, who obviously was not really convinced of their merits, gave me two of those all-brass staples (Chiarugi 2/46) to get rid of them. To me they seem a good idea. They plug in very nicely, much easier even than well greased cork-clads do. So I'm in no doubt about their merits as far as handling is concerned. And this alone might convince me to (slowly, step by step) replace my deteriorating cork-clads by all-brass or plastic-clads. I might also experience improvements accoustically.  Nissen, who kindly offers his invention of plastic-clads, claims an increase in sound quality and precision of intonation. On the other hand he is a bit doubtful about the all-brass staples, which, in his experience, tend to be detrimental to the characteristic sound of the oboe. Now, I like those nice, sturdy, gold-like blinking brass items. And I'm not so fond of "plastic". But if it sounds better . . . And how about all those cork-clads in my locker? I sure needn't throw them away, do I? All those Klopfers, Pisonis and Glotins . . .
I'm aware of the fact, that everybody has got to find things out for themselves, but a different opinion, raised by individual experience, always lights up the track for the others, so, dear Geoffrey, maybe your experience, your expertise, your access to different, renowned players' experience might shed more light on this matter and help me and others to rank the information neatly enough to decide on what to do: what can be said about the merits of staples, traditional (cork-clad), all-brass and plastic-clad?

It is a hell of a good thing you keep the "allexperts" site rolling! To me (a chiefly self-taught amateur double-reeder) it is like a combination of "samaritans" and the occasional ambulance. If there is a heaven after life, you experts will be there and, on your call, you'll dine on caviar or your favourite dish and drink ;o)

Thank you for your fantastic work, your help, your patience and, first of all, your commitment!

Gratefully yours


Dear Hans

Thank you for your very kind comments. I do appreciate them. I like to share what I know with anybody who needs help because the areas I cover were generally not addressed in my early days as a student. It was always a mystery - reeds, staples, cane, gouges etc etc... We students used to think that our teachers didn't want to share their secrets but I think that it was generally a lack of knowledge and perhaps interest in the mechanics of the playing "tools" that were used at the time. Analysis and exploration seemed of no interest. It was mainly the music that mattered and that was the state of play.

Addressing your question I think that the brass staples work quite well but I do find that the sound is a little harder and more metallic in timbre. Almost what you would expect! The plastic cladding of the Nissen staple seems to be a compromise solution and works well. There are problems with all the O-ring sealed staples though and that is one of security of the O-ring itself. I have had O-rings break in the socket resulting in difficult removal of the reed. So they need to be checked and also perhaps wise not to try to force on a bigger O-ring than is good for a seal.

I don't think that you need to throw away all your cork staples. You will find that most players get by with these providing they are in a good condition and the cork is of fine grained quality.

Interestingly though there is new device on the market for clamping joints together with metal arms attached with silicone rubber bands. These are said to improve the vibrations through the instrument and improve the response and tone quality. I am trying to get a sample at the moment to write them up for a magazine!! See the website: for more information.

The Marigaux M2 in one long middle joint takes this idea into manufacture in that the top joint is very short and helps to reduce the weakness of the usual design both in rigidity and for more ideal tone hole distribution. It is a very responsive oboe and perhaps the rigidity helps. Who knows?

A good cork clad reed made from great cane in a well adjusted normal oboe can still sound terrific!

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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