Selecting the Right Oboe or Bassoon Reed
Selecting the correct reed can be a difficult task especially when you are new to the double reed world. It can take months, some times years to narrow down which reed is best for you. This is because everyone has individual preferences and choosing the right reed is subjective. This post is meant to be general guideline as to which strength and type of reed you should choose.
We will start with reed strengths. Oboe and bassoon reeds are most commonly offered in five strengths: Soft, Medium Soft, Medium, Medium Hard, and Hard. Each reed company has their own rating systems so a medium from one brand might be slightly different than a medium reed from anther brand. The following is a general idea of each read strength.
Soft or Medium Soft
The best oboe reeds for beginners are reeds that have less resistance. For the beginner oboist it is often recommend that one select a Soft or Medium Soft Reed. These reeds will be easier to play while the beginner oboe or bassoonist are developing his or hers embouchure. At Advantage we offer a smaller selection of reed brands come in Soft: Marlin Lesher, Chartier, and OC&R Pro Reed to name a few. Most of our oboe and bassoon reeds are offered in Medium Soft.
A medium reed will have more resistance than a Medium or Medium Soft and is often recommend for players with a 1-2 years of experience.
A Medium Hard oboe reed will provide a lot of resistance and is recommended for the intermediate to advanced oboist and bassoonist. The harder the reed the more resistance.
Hard Reeds are often recommend for students and more advance players adjust their own or have their private teachers adjusted the reeds.
Pro Reed vs. Manufactured Reeds
Pro reeds are hand scraped from beginning to end. Pro reeds are more responsive and in tune than manufactured reeds. Scraping each reed beginning to end takes a lot of time and this is why Pro Reeds are often times more expensive than manufactured reeds. Professional level reeds are recommended for advanced players who do not have the time to make their own reeds, for that reason most professional are only offered in Medium and Medium Hard. However the OC&R Pro Oboe reed is offered in all five strengths. Our top selling Pro Oboe Reed is the Cooper Wright Reed, the Cooper reed is known for its excellent intonation, consistency, tone quality, response and control right out of the box.
Here is a link to our other Pro Oboe Reeds.
Manufactured Reeds are made with machines and refined by hand in the final stages of the reed making process. Often times manufactured reeds are the best reeds for beginners,although manufactured reeds are very popular amongst intermediates and advanced players. They are far less expensive and easy to play right out of the box. Each manufacture has a different reed making process and uses different profiles when making their reeds. For this reason we recommend you try multiple brands of reeds to find the one that fits you best.
Whether you are new to the double reed world, or an experienced player that doesn't have time to make your own reeds we hope this guide points you in the right direction when it comes to buying your reeds. Please note that it is very important to have multiple reeds ready to play at all times. Using multiple reeds slows the aging process of the reeds. In addition, oboe and bassoon reeds are very delicate and can stop playing with little to no warning at all, having multiple reeds around can help mitigate a reed disaster!