Oboe Reed Diagrams

Try looking at your reeds from a profile and compare your reeds to the oboe reed diagram at the bottom of this page. This profile view can help you diagnose many different problems and help you make your reeds feel more consistent. While I frequently resort to using measurements (like 0.40mm in the heart or 0.27mm in the windows), if you take a look at your reeds from this angle, it can help you make adjustments on a reed-by-reed basis. Keep in mind, there should be a slight taper from the thread of the reed to the tip of the reed (similar to the shape of a diminuendo >). Even though there will be small divets, or places where you 'dig in,' such as the windows or the blend, most people prefer a slight taper to the overall shape of a reed from the thread to the tip. Some people might prefer the opening at the heart and tip to be similar to the opening at the thread to create a more cylindrical shape reed, and others prefer a steeper taper to create a more conical shape reed. Still, you will need to decide what feels comfortable for you.

Oboe Gouge and Shaper Tip

Keep in mind, your gouger and shaper tip will determine how much you should 'dig' into the windows and tip. One reason that American-style reed makers have to take more out of the windows is because the sides of your reed are going to be thicker where the windows are than where the heart is. To keep the entire reed vibrating, American-style reed makers need to add windows to the reed since the side measurements of the gouge will be thicker in that area. Using a wider shaper tip will make the sides thinner, which might mean you do not need to make as much separation between the windows and the heart. Since I use a relatively narrow shaper tip, I often find that I take more out of the windows than other people with wider shaper tips. And you should take a look at your reeds when they are both dry and wet since it is easy to over adjust the reed if it is over soaked.

Take A Look At The Oboe Reed Diagram Below

The top picture in the oboe reed diagram below shows a reed with too much taken out of the windows. If too much is taken out of the windows, and if the heart is too short making the windows higher up on the reed, then the reed will open up too much and certain notes will be flat.

The second picture shows a reed with too much separation between the heart and the tip. Some people make great reeds like this by taking more cane out of the back, but it depends on the shaper tip and gouge that you use. Reeds with too thick of a heart compared to the tip will make your upper register sound thin and can make low notes harder to respond.

The third picture shows a reed where the tip is a bit too long and there is little definition between the heart and tip. This can make articulating fast sixteenth notes harder, especially in the low register. For me, the reed below has too little definition.

oboe reed with little definition
For me, this reed has too little definition between the tip and heart and between the heart and windows. Some people might like it though!

The fourth picture is close to what I prefer. You can see that the opening at the bark is wider than the opening at the top of the heart which is wider than the opening at the tip—so there is a slight diminuendo shape (>) to the overall reed, but still with some definition between the windows and heart and between the heart and the tip.

Members to this website can check out this oboe reed lesson https://howtomakeoboereeds.com/2017/08/24/reed-diagrams/ for more detailed information on this topic.

If you are looking for more reed making instructions, check out the oboe reed measurement post where you can download a reed making PDF that has scraping instructions and oboe reed measurements.

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