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Oboe/New oboe reeds completely closed


QUESTION: Just got an oboe and bought 2 reeds from Germany ( These are totally closed and can not be played. The cork is also too small and doesn't fill out the hole at the top of the oboe. Any suggestions mate?

Dave Lockwood, Beginner.

ANSWER: Dear Dave

Sorry to have been a long time in getting back to you.I have been very busy for once!!

To fill out the cork use cigarette papers to wrap round the cork to expand the diameter. It is unusual for the hole to be too big for the reeds it is most often the other way round! Another ploy is to gentle run a flame over the cork which will expand but it doesn't last very long. Thats why a wrapping of cigarette paper is best.

The closed reeds can be cured by:

a.  a soak in water for about 15 minutes and see how they open up. They should but might not! Soak just the cane part of the reed.

b. If they are still too closed try wiring the reed about 4mm up from the top of the binding so that you can control the opening with the wire.
If you google "wiring an oboe reed" you will find instructions on how to do this.
You need a fine gauge brass wire to do this. Reed shops sell the stuff of course but strands taken from stranded brass picture wire work as well.
It is not easy to get the hang of really and again needs experience.

c.Gently squeeze the top of the staple in its oval plane not at the sides and this can sometimes open he reed up a little. WARNING though. This is a job for someone who has experience - but if all else fails try it. You will need flat nose pliers and a gentle gentle pressure watching ALL the time.

If you haven't a teacher perhaps you should think of getting one who can help with these procedures.

Very best with it all


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks. Reeds totally closed need cutting and scraping. I'm sending them back to Germany. Got ant tips on a good site to buy reeds?
Thanks for your time.


Places to try for reeds.

I have found success with Chinese reeds from KGe as they often suit me and also Fortay Reeds. As you are buying online go to Howarth in London and order from them. They have a big selection of makers in their catalogue. Fortay amongst them.

Another supplier of K Ge is Crowthers of Canterbury.
Both these shops will send reeds to you and are quick with turn round.
The Fortay are very well made and pupils are very keen on them. I have had success with them too..

For a hand made supplier in the UK Billerbeck Reeds do a good job. Marjorie who runs her one man business is very sympathetic and make s a good reed. Pretty quick turn round too.

Try these and see how you get on.

Best of luck  - you ALWAYS need that with oboe reeds!



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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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