QUESTION: Hi Geoffrey,

I just want to ask the comparison between the RC11, 12, and H70. Do you have information about those shapes? Which one is the widest and the narrowest? And I ever read about the difference between the RC11 and the Michel 7.2, but I don't really understand would you like to explain to me about it? Thank you very much.

Best regards,

ANSWER: Dear Billy

Hope you well and in good playing shape. Good to hear from you again.

The differences between these shapes are very slight indeed. The widest is the RC12 at 7.24mm .

The RC11 is identical to the Michel 7.2 and is, yes, 7.2 across the top but more fan shaped than the Hortnagel 70 which is narrower at 7.0 across the top, 6.1 in the mid point against 5.4 for the Michel RC11 shape.

Kunibert Michel has retired and therefore appears not to be making any shapes now - he made them for Roseau Chantant.
Manufacturing is I understand being carried out by Reeds 'n Stuff for the RC shapes now.

Summarising then the narrower H70 is a squarer shape than the Michel which is more fan shaped.

The RC11/Michel 7.2 gives a freely vibrating reed and good ease into the topmost register. I use it myself at the moment - its good. I have had mine for many years and have returned to it.
I also use one of Reeds n Stuff's shapes, a Berlin, which is slightly bigger all round but still fan shaped. At the moment these types suit me best - BUT I could change my mind in an instant!! I have quite a collection of big shapes but warm sound is great but the high notes are trickier and more exhausting to blow.

Best wishes


[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Geoffrey,

Thanks for the information. Yeah, I have to told you that now my condition is much much better than before, with the playing, and also the reed-making. It's getting more and interesting this reed-making, and I'm happy that you always answer my question. Thanks again.

So, finally I find a good thing which suits me for the tying length. I make both RC11 and 12, tie on 73 and finish on 72, on a chiarugi 26 2+. I like the resistant of the reed very much, both shapes seems okay, but I have intonation problem that I couldn't solve until now. 2nd octave a, bb, b especially seems flat and hard to control. I should bite the reed, and the sound become small and restricted. Still these 2 shapes are more promising compared to H70. What would be your suggestion for this? What's your setup (tying, finished, scraping length) for RC11?

About H70, I find a big problem with this. Almost all the time, this shape give a very round shape at the back (bark?) that makes it difficult to start, not stable, and when the cane is hard, it's difficult even to make it crow. I should press the back really hard every time, and it's still have like something stuck inside, maybe you have solution for this?

Could you explain again to me about the squarer and more fan shaped. Really sorry, I don't understand the term.

Greetings from Indonesia,

Dear Billy,
Greetings form Scotland!!

I am only pleased to be able to help if I can.

First I will think about your second octave problem. If you have a Rigoutat oboe for example you may find that these notes tend to need more lip support and good deep blowing to have the pitch high enough. I have a Rigouatat and I find that this is a feature of the range. I have owned three of them in my life time! They were all the same. Try a more open staple like a Chiarugi 5 bit more like the Glotin staple. Is the pitch still a problem then? I find that the RC11 shape does help these notes. We are only talking about a tiny amount of flatness though if everything is working well. Sometimes I have had the octave box vent plate increased in size - the hole size is very critical - and this brings the pitch up. I have a Buffet Greenline where the pitch is good but this oboe is fitted with Castellani octave boxes which don't hold water. They made a big difference to my Buffet. Lucky I think because I tried several plates that the factory sent to me before settling on one. Then I changed the whole set up with the water resistant design from Seņor Castellani and never looked back. Find him on line at www.oboicastellani.it
I think that the second notes should come out very close to being in tune without too much pressure form the embouchure. Ideally if you were playing an A and someone pressed the second octave key without you knowing it was about to happen, the top A that emerged would be very nearly in tune. Wide shapes tend not to let this happen so more work form the embouchure is needed. As you say, the sound can easily become restricted and deadened which is a pity when these notes should ring like bells.

By fan-shaped I mean more like an ice cream cone: wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Like an oboe bore only the other way round.
The RC11 is more of that cone shape than the the H70.

Have you tried wiring the H70 reeds to control the opening above the top of the staple? That bit of wire could ease the aperture for you.

My set up with RC11 is tying on at 73 with a 46 staple and cutting to about 70 to 71mm. I use a short scrape - about 11mm - with plenty in the back and on my two year old Marigaux this is only JUST in tune if the hall is warm! Can be a fight to get up to pitch sometimes therefore in the Winter here, I might use a 45 staple. I still like to have about 25mm of cane vibrating. Sometimes I wire them sometimes not.

Hope this gives you some help

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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