MUS 215

Double Reeds in General

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Selecting the Proper Oboe or Bassoon Reed for You

Oboe and bassoon reeds are very fragile and sometimes difficult to keep in proper adjustment, so it is important to start with a fine quality reed.  When selecting an oboe or bassoon reed, pick the thickness that is correct for you–a beginning student will generally start with a medium-soft reed and later try the medium or medium-hard thickness.  Avoid using a reed that has a long thin tip but a short overall scrape.  These reeds tend to have a thin, edgy tone quality, and even though they are easy to blow, they are generally flat.  A reed with a short tip requires that the sides have a longer scrape in order to produce the "dark" sound which is a smoother and more pleasant tone quality.  This reed does not have the heart of the cane scraped out.  This allows for further individual adjustment if necessary.

Both oboe and bassoon reeds should be thoroughly dried after playing.  Do not put damp reeds in an airtight container.

Care and Adjustment of Oboe Reeds

To prepare the oboe reed for playing, dip about half of the cane into water about five minutes before you are ready to play.  Gently squeeze it open or shut as required during the first few minutes of playing. If the edges of the reed are open near the tip when the reed is dry, it does not mean it is a poor reed.  However, the edges should be closed when the reed is wet and being played.  The proper tip opening for an oboe reed when wet is 1/32".

When the reed is wet, squeeze together the sides of the reed with the thumb and first finger to open the reed tip more.  Sucking air back through the reed will also make the opening larger.

If the above does not work, use pliers to carefully squeeze the sides of the wrapping.

When the reed is wet, squeeze gently on the top/bottom of the cane with the thumb and first finger to close the tip more.

If the above does not work, use pliers to carefully squeeze the top/bottom of the wrapping.

Care and Adjustment of Bassoon Reeds

To prepare a bassoon reed for playing, dip it in water up to the first wire about five minutes before playing.  The proper tip opening for a bassoon reed when wet is 1/16".  Bassoon reeds may be adjusted by squeezing the wires with a small pair of pliers.

Squeeze together the sides of the wire closest to the tip if the tip does not open far enough. Squeeze together the sides of the second wire from the tip if low notes do not respond properly–are too loud and coarse.

Squeeze together the top/bottom of the wire closest to the tip to close the reed tip further. Squeeze together the top/bottom of the second wire from the tip if low notes do not respond properly–are too soft and stuffy.

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