Topic: Soaking reeds

There is a lot of controversy over reed soaking time.  I think that it depends on how old the reed is but im not sure.  Does anybody have any good reason why reed soaking should be a certain time?

Jason Brackett
PYWE - Oboe
"Peace, Love, Oboe"


Re: Soaking reeds

The only thing that I worry about when soaking a reed is not to soak it forever. Most of the time I just soak it in my mouth. A minute or 2 in some warm water sould be fine, but don't worry too much about it.

All the best,


Joseph Shalita
Principal Oboe State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra

Re: Soaking reeds

I think in a drier climate or if the reed hasn't been played for a while, then it needs to be soaked longer.  Many oboists I know just dip the reed in water and then let it soak for a couple minutes with the water inside the reed.  Others have their reed soaker cup on their stand and they are constantly soaking it.  You might have to experiment with what works best for you.  I know some bassoon players who play their reed after just a quick dip.  If I did that in Arizona it would more than likely leak and it wouldn't vibrate.

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

Re: Soaking reeds

Here in Aridzona with our 4% humidity, if I don't let the reed soak for five full minutes before playing it, it is not wet enough to vibrate correctly. I also keep the oboe case, with the Humistat, tightly wrapped in a garbage bag when the oboe is not in use. Otherwise the wood gets too dry and it starts to get symptoms of being out of adjustment. I've seen outdoor concerts here in June (100+ degrees) where the oboe player has to have three reeds on stage, with two soaking and one being played on, and rotating them so that the one being played on is wet enough to function. Those who live in climates with more humidity probably find this hard to believe.


Re: Soaking reeds

My opinion, not backed by scientific evidence, but by real-world experience:

I think it makes a huge difference what your reed style needs, too.  My reeds work when they've only been "dipped", but they work far better if they're totally saturated.  It's just how my reeds turn out based on how I make them.  I think if you scrape the reed to where you like it when it's completely saturated, that's how it needs to be to work again.  So a lot of it comes down to your own habits too.  So my reeds soak for a long time.

Several old teachers dipped the reed for 5 seconds and they were good to go.  A fellow area bassoonist I play with a lot needs her reeds to totally soak or the first wire falls off!

So I guess the "right" amount to soak your reeds is:  until they work right, but no more.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds