The Importance of Handmade Oboe Reeds

Purchasing a quality oboe reed, even as a beginner, is a critical first step to becoming a successful young musician. As a parent you have already paid a lot of money for an instrument, paid for the accessories, and now you have ongoing expenses for reeds-yes, reeds plural. You quickly learn this instrument is expensive to learn and manage. You may be tempted to shy away from the $30 reeds and lean towards the $10-$15 reeds, however, please consider the following before doing so. Handmade reeds play better than store bought machine reeds. They will give an oboist better results and make playing the oboe easier and more enjoyable.

Learning to play the oboe is tough, but a bad machine made reed makes it more difficult. Reed quality is everything to an oboist. Cheaper, machine made reeds are lacking in pitch, dynamics, intonation, tone, and stability. All of these are critical to playing the oboe well and they all rely on the craftsmanship of the reed. Ignoring these variables will lead to difficult practice sessions and the development of bad habits.

Over time saliva breaks down the cane from which the oboe reed is made, making the reed lose defining qualities like pitch and intonation. I always suggest every beginning oboists having at least three functional reeds. This gives the player the ability to cycle through the reeds and will save you money by helping the reeds last longer.

Finding quality handmade or hand finished oboe reeds can be difficult. If you are taking private oboe lessons from an oboist, they should be able to help you find good reeds. Some music stores, such as Hill City Music, carry handmade and hand finished oboe reeds. If a machine made reed is your only option, the Jones reeds are probably your best option.

It takes a very smart, intuitive, and talented child to pursue the oboe, and usually the band director will choose the students he believes will be most successful. We suggest private lessons and handmade or hand finished reeds to ensure your child has the best chance of success.

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