Here are 5 reed making resolutions for 2021. Will these resolutions last until the end of the year? or at least until February? Time will tell.

5. Always keep your reed knife as sharp as possible!

If your knife isn’t as sharp as possible, take the time to sharpen it before scraping your reeds. There are many benefits to a sharp reed knife including…

  • You will have more control over your scrape
  • The tone quality and response of your reeds will improve
  • You won’t have as much tension in your wrists, shoulders, arms, or back.

4. Make sure your oboe is in adjustment before working on your reeds

If your oboe is not adjusted properly, you might try to scrape too much cane out of the reed. This will put you in a cycle where you feel like your reeds are not responding well enough, so then you will scrape extra cane off…which makes the reed go flat…then you clip the reed to bring the pitch up…which makes the reed less responsive…so then you scrape more cane off…which makes the reed go flat…etc.

3. Make your reeds quickly

Make your reed quickly and efficiently. Try not to scrape on a reed for more than 20 minutes at a time. The best reeds do not need to be fussed over! Your reeds will also over-soak if you are working on them too long. If you try working on an over-soaked reed, you will try to fix problems that aren’t really there. That will waste time and make your reeds worse the next day.

2. Always have more than one reed

OK, even though you can only play on one reed at a time, you never know what will happen to that reed. You could always chip it against your tooth by accident, or maybe it will crack, or maybe it will just change because of the weather. Even better, try to have a bunch of reeds at various stages of completion. Maybe keep one old reed that used to be good in case of an emergency, and then a few newly finished reeds that are not broken in. If you are making your own reeds, then also have some blanks and partially finished reeds that you can try to finish in a pinch.

1. Don’t get discouraged with bad reeds!

Not every reed will be a winner. Some reeds will only ever be OK, so use those to practice on. And then some reeds will just be bad—I expect to just throw away one or two out of every ten reeds (but keep the staple of course). It happens!

I try not to let myself mess up any more than three reeds at a time. If I make three bad reeds in a row, it’s probably time for a break (or most likely it’s time to sharpen my knife). If your reed isn’t working, don’t feel as though you’ve somehow gotten worse at playing the oboe overnight. Just try to sound your best with what you got and try to find ways to improve.

Check out this post with my reed making measurements here. There you can download a PDF with reed making instructions and measurements.

Happy New Year!

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