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Thread: flat and resistant

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Default flat and resistant

    I'm taking reed-making lessons from two different teachers who both make excellent pro reeds, reeds I am delighted to play on.

    Neither of them can tell me why mine turn out flat and resistant; they sound good, but are flat. If I cut the tip to raise the pitch, they are too resistant, and then I have to take cane out to lower the resitance, and then they are....flat. It is a recurring pattern, reed after reed, so I don't think it's a case of a bad piece of cane or two. I'm lucky if they crow a B, and I have to work to get the pitch up to A=440 when I play, basically blowing the reed up to pitch.

    I've tried using shorter staples; I've tried tying on longer than my usual to have the volume of the finished reed less, which should raise the pitch. I've slipped the blades (one teacher does that and the other doesn't) to raise the pitch, but end up in the same cycle.

    No dice.

    Any ideas out there?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Raleigh, North Carolina
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    what horn is this on? oboe or bassoon? I don't like slipped blades on either... Don't do much oboe, but on bassoon and bagpipes, if you pinch the top wire to decrease the internal volume of the reed, then it should help raise the pitch. So on oboe that means soaking it real real well *half hour till saturated* and with plaque in, squeezing it down to try to decrease the tip opening, takes a few tries to get it down far enough where it's stable
    Making the heart and rest of the reed thinner will only make it flatter, so in the initial making process, try to leave as much wood on there as possible, just take enough off to get the heart there and the top where you want it.
    Thats something that I made the big mistake of when I was learning how to make bassoon and pipe reeds, took way too much out of the heart and they just went wicked flat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
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    I am learning to be an oboe player, but I've been making reeds for a few months now. I've read the Lidet and own the Weber books. These are fantastic resources if you don't own one of these yet, I suggest the Weber book. It's great. Needless to say, I have studied oboe reeds A LOT. Been to the library tons of hours, and on the internet a bunch as well.

    A few things that you might want to try:

    A different cane shape: Maybe you're embrouchure is just different than others, and you may need to switch to a different shape. I've heard good things of Joshua +2, but maybe you'll need to go even thinner.

    Try to tie on the reed as far as possible from the staple: Basically, you want the skinniest part of the reed just closing the sides around the staple. If you mess up a few times, you're probably in the area you need to be tying on at. If it's too easy to get it to seal, maybe you're tying on too close.

    You've take too much off the back, and too little from the heart: Taking cane off the back will cause you to be flat. I'm sure you're aware of this. You may need to take more cane from the heart to decrease the resistance, and make sure you blend the areas properly. No nicks, all smoothe cane. Nicks will stop the reed vibrating. In general I take an even amount of cane from the windows and heart while I'm getting the tip to sound, then I finish both by taking cane from the heart to decrease resistance, and back to increase resonance. Both will lower pitch, so go slow and check your work often. Keep the reed wet.

    Are you scraping the right dimentions: It's possible a few things could be happening. You're heart may extend to close to the tip, so maybe try scraping the tip longer. This may make your reed less resistant. In general, I have been using these dimentions to some degree of success:

    Tip area: 70mm to 66mm
    Heart: 66mm to 61mm
    Windows: 61mm to 56mm
    Back: 56mm to 51 mm

    This should get you to about 3 to 4 mm above the thread.

    I use a Bevel edge to get the bark off, then go straight to a very light "Philadelphia style" Double Hollow Ground Blade and scrape very lightly.

    It is very hard to discern a problem without inspecting the reed or the technique used. I hope this helps. Good Luck.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Springville, Utah
    Thanked 80 Times in 61 Posts


    The following link takes you to the class notes of a class taught by Arthur Benade on the acoustics of musical instruments at Case University. Beginning on page 23, he gives some detailed information about how changes in the reed effect the tuning and pitch of the oboe.

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