Topic: Making Reeds

When I went to an All-State music audition for the ABA (Alabama Bandmaster's Association) I noticed a lot of the oboeists auditioning made their own reeds. I've been wondering if I should start to try because I currently buy all of my reeds from a local music store and the prices are terrible. I've been paying $14.95 for a regular quality reed, and $17.00 per high quality reed. How much does it cost (approx.) to make reeds? And how do I buy the cane, cork, etc?

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Re: Making Reeds

Hi DMarie93:

I am a bassoonist but I think the answer is the same for oboe reeds.  We don't make our own reeds to save money really.  In the long run, sure you might save money but you still spend an awful lot.  We make our own reeds so that we can make them the way we want.  They will sound and respond the way we want for our particular instrument and embouchure.  It may take a while before you get the hang of making reeds and you will spend a lot of money going through cane.  Cost depends on how much you want to get involved.  Do you want to make reeds from the beginning, in other words from tubes of cane where you would have to gouge, shape and profile.  Or you can buy cane already gouged and already shaped.  It will cost a little more but then you don't need the expensive tools to do this for you.  You can just buy blanks and then you can buy minimal tools such as a knife, plaque and mandrel.  You might need a few other things too like a sharpening stone for the knife.  For prices look at a reed store to give you an idea.  Here is one for starters.  Look under "reed making tools."  http://www.forrestsmusic.com/    My kids are calling so I need to go but maybe I can answer your questions better later.  Kent

Last edited by Kent Moore (2007-12-16 17:05:40)

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Making Reeds

DMarie93:

Do you have a teacher who could show you what would be involved in making reeds.  It can be fun and exciting to make your own--certainly a challenge and sometimes frustrating but that is part of the fun.  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Making Reeds

Since you mentioned oboists making reeds I'm assuming you are an oboist. Therefore I would suggest that you start as follows:

(1) First, by one of the classic books on oboe reed making. I would suggest the Weber/Capps book or the Jay Light book;

(2) If it seems like something you would like to get into, then purchase a good oboe reed-making kit from a reliable double reed supplier. I always did business with Margaret Noble of Oboeworks who is now located in New York City, not to imply that there aren't several other very good suppliers. However, Margaret is absolutely first rate. She can also steer you to good cane and tubes to start with; Margaret probably also has the two books I suggested;

As Kent suggests, it would be nice to have a competent teacher to help you get into the process, but if you don't, give it a try anyway. Again, as Kent says, we make reeds not to save money but to have reeds that play the way we would like reeds to play. Over the long haul, though, once the initial investment in reed making is made, you will save money and have good reeds as part of the bargin.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Making Reeds

Hi- I bought a kit from Mark Chudnow- about $130 at the time.  There are a lot of places you can order supplies- Mark Chudnow, Midwest Musical Imports, Hodge, Forrests, and others. Most places have a kit (knife, mandrel, ruler, plaque, case, and a small supplies of staples and cane and maybe thread) that is a little cheaper than buying the items separately.  I have not advanced to splitting, gouging, and shaping cane myself.  I buy it gouged and shaped.  There are many different shapes so at first I tried a bunch of different ones before settling on a narrow shape.   I like Infiniti Reed's cane.  About $20 for 10 pieces. You'll need a sharpening stone and beeswax too.  Hopefully I didn't leave anything out.
I think I do save money now but be prepared to go through LOTS of cane at first getting the technique right.  It took me about a year!  Even when you do some of them will not turn out.  But you can reuse the staple so figure the main cost is the cane and the thread.  But I agree with the others the main reason is to have reeds that will work best for your unique needs.  It's definitely worth the effort!
Definitely better to have a teacher show you but you just have to make lots of reeds to get it right and find what works for you.  Besides personal instruction I got more out of the Charles Veazey Oboe Reed video than anything else.  Don't know if it is still available though.

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