This page will respond in detail to some of the questions that come my way on "everything reed making" and how to get the best results from your reeds. The topics will change periodically, and all entries will be archived. We welcome your questions and will select the ones that have the most universal value. Youtube links will be used when demonstrations are needed.
A PRIMER IN OBOE REED BEHAVIOR- January 1, 2017
If you haven't been told already, it is time for you to know the truth about oboe reed behavior. Oboe is a strenuous instrument, hard to master, and success is only possible when you have a great reed that you insert into an oboe that functions. However, oboe reeds are really fickle. The perfect reed is an abstract goal, and reeds that come close are elusive, even to the most highly regarded performing artists. There are no absolutes in reed making. Everything is relative, including strength, tone, response and grade.
The cane we use to make oboe reeds is an agricultural product that grows in fields, and is sometimes even described as a weed. While some people think of it as a kind of wood, it is very different than any other wood we think of- especially because of its low density. The structure of reeds further diminishes its strength, most notably with a tip that is hair thin. They are much more delicate than the reeds used by one of their closest relatives-the bassoon. Because of this low density and structure, oboe reeds are highly susceptible to changes in the environment, especially humidity and temperature. They actually swell and contract with these changes, and this effects function. When we dip a reed in water, in preparation to play, and put it in our mouths, the humidity is 100% and fibers expand because we want them to. We learn how to manage the expansion of the fibers for our reeds through with time and temperature. But, these are factors we cannot control in the natural environment. So the reality is that the reed you love today may not play the same tomorrow. Also, their lifespans are variable and dependent on their overall structure as well as the number of hours of play.
Reed making is both an art and a science. An expert reed maker seeks to achieve a delicate balance of form and function for the broadest group of players without abandoning a personal point of view- which is the art portion of the equation. Our goal is that the results of our unique combination of skill sets will exceed your expectations so you will play your best.
Very rarely, there are unpredictable changes in reeds during shipping that might shrink the reed (causing a leak), or swell the reed (causing an unusual enlargement of the aperture). If this occurs with your reeds, or if you are unhappy with your reeds in other ways, please contact us. We will fix, replace and in certain cases refund your money. We just ask that you test your reeds upon arrival and contact us within 5 days. Also, players who purchase reeds that are higher end in a medium strength should anticipate the possibility that some reeds may require a break-in period.