# Oboe Reeds: Why Are the Blades Different Lengths?

When I clip my reed to shorten or balance it, I always offset the clip so that the two blades are slightly different in length.

I do this very intentionally, because we don’t play the oboe straight away from our face
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But rather, angled downward

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So as I approach my mouth with the reed, I want the shorter blade facing towards me:

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So that the longer back blade, or upper blade, can “catch” the air as it flies from my mouth into the oboe, and funnel it down into the instrument

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Instead of interrupting the air and forcing it away from the oboe

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To accomplish this, I angle the reed against the cutting block as I clip

which forces the blades to offset, so I can clip straight down and wind up with an appropriately uneven result.

Occasionally, to make the articulation a little zingier, I will clip straight, and try to minimize that difference between the blades.

But I seldom find that result to be perfectly pleasant.  It may solve the immediate articulation problem, which may be the thing I needed, but in my experience this technique sacrifices depth and warmth in the tone.

My close up photos might make it seem like there’s a BIG OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE between the blades, but sometimes I have to hold them up really close and squint to figure out which side goes on my lower lip and which on my upper.

To solve that I always choose the side of the reed with the “crossover” in the thread to be the lower blade.  This gives me a visual and tactile clue as to which way to play the reed.  I can plop it in without looking and know that I’m doing it right – which in turn makes it really look like I know what I’m doing.  It makes me appear unfussy.