The Five Minute Reedmaker
This series of bite-sized videos offers deep dives into the details of oboe reed making. This page is better organized and curated than the playlist over on YouTube, so you can easily find what you need. I’m working on filling in some gaps – please let me know if you have other questions that I could answer in a five minute video!
New videos arrive first on YouTube – make sure you SUBSCRIBE to my channel so you never miss one over there!
Join my email list to pick up my FREE Reed Structure Checklist!
Part 1: Equipment
The Mack Plus Shape
Jennet’s New Staples
Part 2: Cane Preparation
Mold on Cane
Soaking and Folding Cane
Constructing the Reed
Part 3a: Winding
The Asymmetric Crack
Stemware and Staples
Gripping the Mandrel
The Throat Dimension
Constructing the Reed
Part 3b: Scraping
The Long Scrape
Understanding the Tip and Transition
Constructing the Tip and Transition
Top Three Most Common Tip Problems
Experiment: Length of The Heart
How You Know When Your Heart is Too Heavy?
Experiment: Length of The Windows
U versus W
U versus W Bonus Closeup
Getting it to Vibrate
How to Treat Blanks
Structure of the Rooftop
The Left Side
Reeds and Vibrato
The Double Rooftop
How MUCH do I Scrape?
Length of the Windows
What To Do When Your Reed Is Too Open
Details of the Long Scrape
The Day One Scrape
The Day Two Scrape
Narrowing the Tip?
Windows in the HEART?
Constructing the Reed
Part 3c: Finishing
The Beep and Crow
Finishing & Finishing Tips and Tricks
Low Note Reeds
High Note Reeds
Crowing Too High
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Chirps and Squeaks
The Shorter Blade
Unequal Blade Length
The Short Flat Reed
My Flat Reed
Diagnosing in MACRO
Reacting to the Crow
MAKING the Reed Crow
The Granny Ramp
Going too far in the back?
The Crow and High Notes
Day Three Finishing
Sort Reeds With Me!
The Tip is Too Closed!
Part 4: Miscellaneous
English Horn Reeds
Wire on the English Horn Reeds
Oboe d’amore reeds
Breaking in a Reed
Rejuvenating Your Old Reed
Weather and Reeds
Meet Joe Reed
Soaking Your Reeds
Different Reeds for Different Oboes
Sanitizing Oboe Reeds
Fear and Scarcity
Should you FREEZE your Reeds?
Reeds and Humidity
Coming Back to the Oboe
More on Endurance
What Shapes SELL?
Hierarchy of Reeds
Endurance for Oboe Players
Glorified Long Tones
Reeds and Vibrato
Fear and Anxiety
Wiring an English Horn Reed
The Happiest Musician
Gripping the English Horn Reed
Are My Reeds GOOD Enough for a Reed Business?
Reed Choice and Maintenance
My Four Minute Reed
Reed Repair Shop
Have I ruined my Jennet Ingle reed?
The MS That Isn’t
Part 1: Equipment
Knife Sharpening – How to sharpen your Double Hollow Ground or Razor knife for optimum reed-making success. My quick and easy three step process.
The Plaque – So tiny, so ignorable, so crucial. Why a flat plaque? Why metal? What’s a contoured plaque good for?
The Mandrel – So basic. What’s the difference between French-style and regular? Why do all of your tubes have to fit your mandrel? Do they, really? Should you spend $20 or $70 on this small tool?
Staples – There are so many different kinds of staples! What are some differences and distinctions between them? The Five Minute Reedmaker attempts to break things down…
DNReeds/Ostoich Tubes – I’m bringing a new staple into my options- the DNReeds/Ostoich tube is similar to AND different from the Pisoni and Chiarugi tubes I’m already using. What do you think? How does it sound to you?
Shaper Tips/Templates – Side by side comparisons of shaper tips
• RDG-1, RDG-1N, Caleb, Caleb-1
• Sara, Samson+1, Ruth, Ruth-2
• Jeanne Standard, Giacobassi, Coelho, and RDG 1
• Reeds N Stuff Shaping Machine templates: Liang, MPX, Lucarelli, Joshua +2
Knife Angles – Let’s get nitty-gritty here. Let’s look at what the knife is REALLY doing as you construct and finish your reed. Let’s label these techniques and see if that helps!
The Mack Plus Shape – I had always heard that there was a special method for shaping with Mack tips. And I had wondered whether it was one of those oboe superstitions or something really real that had a basis in reality. This week, I finally ran the experiment!
Jennet’s New Staples – I’ve developed a new staple that I LOVE. It’s a handcrafted German silver staple with premium natural cork, and we’ve honed in on a custom bore dimension that offers a warm sound, moderate resistance, and stable pitch up and down the instrument. Here is the story of the new Jennet Ingle Reeds Custom Staple!
Part 2: Cane Preparation
Processing Cane – What are the most important criteria when selecting cane to use? How thick do you gouge? What would cause you to discard a piece of cane?
Shaping – Do you use an easel? How much do you scrape before you fold? Before you wind? Do you push your cane down on the tip? Knife or razor blade? Shaping cane for oboe reeds is a relatively simple task, with a surprising number of variables.
Mold on Cane – Hopefully this is never a problem for you. I haven’t been able to solve every mold issue with this technique. But I saved some!!
Soaking and Folding Cane – As you get ready to shape or wind your oboe cane, how do you know when it has soaked enough? How long does this take, really? AND how do you get a clean fold so the top of your blank hangs together? The Five Minute Reedmaker answers these questions.
Part 3a: Constructing the Reed – Winding
Winding – Winding your reed – attaching the cane to the staple – is a skill that quickly becomes second nature. But it doesn’t start out that way! Here’s my step-by-step of the process for you.
The Knot – Some people feel terribly clumsy at the very end of the winding process. Here’s my easy technique for tying the reed off.
The Overlap – Why are the two blades offset on oboe reeds? How do you make that happen? How do you know if you are doing it right? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
I have this explained in words and pictures, too, over on my blog.
Batch Processing – Yes, I can make a reed in five minutes. And I can play it. But this is not my ideal way to work – the cane needs time to settle between soakings, and I find that my stability and longevity improve dramatically when I take MORE time rather than less to get to my finished product. What I actually tend to do is work batches of cane – from pre-gouged to blank, to rough-scraped, to finished, and to polished – over the course of several days.
Also covered: What makes the Five Minute Reedmaker give up on a reed? What’s not recoverable? When do you stop struggling and move on?
The Asymmetric Crack – Your oboe reed has a big crack, right down by the thread. What do you do? In this video I try out a new idea from one of my Reed Club members.
Stemware and Staples – What does barware have to teach us about reedmaking? Maybe not tooooo much – but it’s a fun metaphor!
Gripping the Mandrel – Have you ever struggled with the sheer AWKWARDNESS of holding onto a reed as you are winding it or scraping it? The Five Minute Reedmaker validates you and provides some helpful advice!
The Throat Dimension – When we talk about how LONG to tie a blank, or when we talk about the narrowness or width of a given shape at the THROAT – what are we talking about, and what does that MEAN for our reeds?
Virtual Tip Jar
I’ve loved making these videos as a gift to the oboe community. If they have helped you, or if you’ve enjoyed them, or if you’ve learned something, feel free to leave a tip! Any amount that feels right.
Part 3b Constructing the Reed – Scraping
Knife Techniques – Are you struggling with your reedmaking? Is it possible you’re just HOLDING the thing wrong? Or is there a scraping trick you’re missing?
The Long Scrape – This pre-scrape – the thing you do BEFORE you start really constructing your reed – is unexpectedly important. Here’s how to use it for an optimal end result.
Understanding the Tip and Transition – The tip and the transition into the heart are the most important areas of the reed. Their structure is integral to your reed’s response, stability, pitch, and tone. This video features diagrams and explanations to help you understand this crucial area.
Constructing the Tip and Transition – There are many ways to construct the tip and transition of the reed. Some are relatively easy and, some are efficient but add an element of DANGER. Which method works best for you?
Top Three Most Common Tip Problems – Do your reeds have one of these three common problems? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains and fixes The Moat, the Messy Gutters, and the Wishy-Washy Transition!
The Heart – The heart of the reed is, well, the heart of the reed. I use it to control resistance, stability, and flexibility and this area really dictates how hard you have to blow to play the oboe.
• What is the heart?
• How thick is it really?
• What happens when it’s too thin?
• What happens when it’s too thick?
• How can you tell if your problem is in the heart or elsewhere?
Experiment: Length of The Heart – This is an experimental video, in which I take a reed with too long a heart and one with too short a heart, and try to make successful reeds of them both. Takeaway- the thickness of the heart is more important than the precise length.
How Do You Know When Your Heart is Too Heavy? – If you’re nervous about scraping in the heart of your oboe reed, that’s GOOD. You SHOULD be careful with this crucial region. But sometimes nothing but polishing the heart will do. How can you tell?
The Windows – Do you scrape in the windows just as an afterthought? Just because someone told you to? Do you know how to get the most bang for your buck when you work there? The Five Minute Reedmaker discusses the windows of the reed.
Experiment: Length of The Windows – A student asked me what difference the length of the back of a reed makes. How far down toward the thread the windows go, in other words. I know what I think, but it’s been a long time since I ran this particular experiment, so I thought I’d do it for you here. Two blanks, same gouge, shape, and overall length.
U versus W – What could a tiny shift in approach at the very base of the scrape do to change your reed? Could it vault you out of a months-long reed slump? It worked for the Five Minute Reedmaker!
U versus W Bonus Closeup
Clipping – Clipping an oboe reed is such a tiny task, and you might do it dozens of times as you construct and polish each reed. Are you doing it safely? Do you know the trick to neatly undercutting the lower blade? Or WHY you would want to do so? The Five Minute Reedmaker can help.
Getting it to Vibrate – When your reed JUST WON’T VIBRATE, what do you do? Some pieces of cane are harder than others, sometimes it’s difficult to get down to the good stuff, and some of it ultimately might not work. But I believe that nearly every piece of cane can be a reed if you just react to it and give it what it needs.
How to Treat Blanks – After you wind your cane onto the tube, do you scrape right away? How much do you scrape? Or do you leave it fully sealed? I thought I knew the answer, but the experiment surprised me!
Structure of the Rooftop – EXACTLY how do the vibrations travel from the tip into the heart? HOW does the cut-in and transition area affect the reed as a whole? What does it look like, REAL close up? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
The Thumb – Here’s something you probably didn’t realize you were doing wrong as you scraped your reeds. I honestly didn’t realize I’d never talked about it, or that I should have. But the position of your REED-HOLDING hand can make all the difference in how accurate, how efficient, and how effective your reed scrape is.
The Left Side – Have you ever struggled to make the left side of your reed match the right side? You are NOT ALONE. It feels so AWKWARD to get over there. The Five Minute Reedmaker has some suggestions.
Micrometer Measurements – People ask me literally ALL the time about my micrometer reed measurements. I want to help, but I don’t regularly use this kind of metric. Here, I discuss WHY – and I share my numbers!
Reeds and Vibrato – A question from Trevor: “I have a request for your next video: the relationship between reeds and vibrato. Why some reeds seem to take it better than others. Some like to “sing” and some don’t.
The Double Rooftop – I’ve spoken about many different ways to construct the transition and tip of your oboe reed. Here’s another approach you might find helpful!
How MUCH Do I Scrape? – No matter how many times I demonstrate my Day One Scrape, people ask me, “How MUCH are you taking off?”
The Attic – People have been asking me recently about the structure within the heart of the oboe reed. I was curious myself, so I ran the experiment! What happens if you leave bulk in the ATTIC below the rooftop, versus in the FOUNDATION at the base of the heart?
Length of the Windows – How far DOWN the reed do you scrape? Where do the windows ORIGINATE? What does this variable DO to a reed? The Five Minute Reedmaker experiments.
What To Do When Your Reed Is Too Open – People have been asking me about this conundrum. It’s very common, especially in the early scraping stages, to be shocked by the size of your BIG ROUND tip opening. Is this a fatal flaw? The Five Minute Reedmaker discusses causes and solutions.
Details of the Long Scrape – Today, the Five Minute Reedmaker is responding to a question from Jackie:
“Hi Jennet, I am re-vamping my whole reed making method, trying to follow along with your great videos. My question is about the long scrapes, first the top and then the bottom, where you scrape up just to the bottom of the top scrape. I’m finding I have a bump at that point. Likewise, if my initial top scrape is 10mm the top half of my heart is thinner than the bottom half. How are your top and bottom long scrapes meeting and is that supposed to relate to the position of the heart?”
The Day One Scrape – How does a blank get to be a reed? And when you start scraping, when do you STOP? I’ve shared these various skills many times in many videos – but here and in the next several videos I talk about the specs points of my batch process.
The Day Two Scrape – How does a Day One Reed get to be a playable reed? And when you start scraping, when do you STOP? I’ve shared these various skills many times in many videos – but in this series I talk about the specs of my batch process.
Narrowing the Tip? – This was fun! The question: What happens if you narrow the tip MORE than the heart? The answer: Maybe… NOTHING?
Windows in the HEART? – In Reed Club this week, this idea came up. It sounded crazy to me but I’m always game to try – and I LOVED the results!
Part 3c Constructing the Reed – Finishing
The Beep and Crow – Our two main oboe reed diagnostic tools are often misunderstood by new reedmakers. Here’s a handy guide to balancing a reed using only the beep and the crow.
Finishing, Part 1 – Once your rough-scraped reed crows, WHAT THEN? How do you take a reed from beeping to playable? How do you balance it? The Five Minute Reedmaker helps, with this structure:
• Opening and response
Finishing Part 2: Tips and Tricks – After you get to the point where your reed has structure, symmetry, and balance, and you still don’t like it, what then? What can you do to fix problems like Too Hard, Too Easy, Too Sharp, and Too Flat? The Five Minute Reedmaker offers tips and tricks. (My favorite ones are at the end!)
Reed Strength – How do you make a reed Medium, or Medium Soft, or Medium Hard? Can you change the strength and resistance of your reed? How?
• This video is about my sorting process:
• How I organize my reeds to be Medium, Medium Hard and Medium Soft
• What those designations mean to me
• How I work on a reed to change its level of resistance
• What areas of a reed you might work in to make these changes for yourself
• How to make your reed easier – and how to trick it into being more resistant again
Stability – Stability in an oboe reed is a big concept, and varies greatly from person to person and style to style.
• What is stability?
• Where does it come from?
• How much of it do you want?
• What do you do when your reed is TOO stable?
• Too flexible?
Low Note Reeds – Have you noticed how some reeds will coast in safely and beautifully on low notes, sustaining them effortlessly as if no oboist ever struggles down there?
High Note Reeds – Have you noticed how some reeds will just SING out the highest notes on the oboe, even those third octave notes like D and F# that often want to break? Is this just luck? Or can we take some intentional steps to get our priorities met?
Crowing Too High – A question from Carol: Why does my reed crow a C# when it LOOKS SO PERFECT?
The Five Minute Reedmaker explores ways to lower the crow of a finished reed without wrecking it.
Good Tone – I say this all the time – DON’T choose a reed for its tone. DON’T keep scraping for sound, scrape for function. Get the reed to work. The sound will follow. In this video I look at the most COMMON cause of a bad tone and work through two manifestations of it.
Fallacy of the Long Tip – I love a new reed with a long thick tip, with beautiful good stuff above the heart. A reed like that feels good to me immediately – when I blow I get a nice stable sound, and when I blow more it gives me more! But the bad thing is that as this reed begins to stiffen up, it will go sharp. It will go shallow. It will not permit me to find depth and beauty in the sound, may not permit effortless vibrato, may have a real “UP” quality, may have too small an opening. This list of symptoms may have me wanting to scrape in the heart – and THIS is the fallacy of the long tip.
Chirps and Squeaks – When your crow has a chirp, a squeak, or a whistle in it, what does that mean? How can you overcome this common problem? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
The Shorter Blade – We clip the lower blade of the oboe reed infinitesimally shorter than the upper blade. What does this imply for the proportions of those blades? How important is it?
Unequal Blade Length – WHY do some oboists clip their oboe reed blades to different lengths, and some go for perfect symmetry? Is one way right and the other way wrong? This Facebook Live video strives to answer that question.
The Short Flat Reed – It seems like a natural assumption that the SHORTER a reed is, the SHARPER it will be. What do you do when that’s NOT the case?
My Flat Reed – This is one of the most common questions I get: How do I bring my FLAT oboe reed up to pitch? The answer is NOT just to reflexively clip.
Diagnosing in MACRO – As reedmakers, we tend to engage with the reed IN OUR HAND. But sometimes it’s helpful to zoom OUT and look at reeds by BATCHES instead. What can we learn if we get just a little bit more emotionally detached?
Reacting to the Crow – What is it that the crow is telling you about your reed? How might you react to its message? And does it ALWAYS have to crow?
MAKING the Reed Crow – Many of my students right now are struggling to get the reed all the way to a CROW on Day One. My secret? The intensity of my long scrape. Here, I share a hack designed to speed your process along even if you were TOO CAUTIOUS early on.
The Granny Ramp – There’s so much NUANCE to the transition area of the reed. You’ve heard me and others talk about the skateboard ramp, the wheelchair ramp, the curb, the concavity, the blend, the cut-in. We talk about it a lot because it’s so important. Here’s another look at this important region of the oboe reed.
Going too far in the back? – Another question from Reed Club: How do you know when you’ve taken too much out of the back of the reed? The Five Minute Reedmaker runs the experiment!
Holistic Reedmaking – I’ve helped a number of people recently who make their reeds in PARTS, who work to FINISH the tip before they START the windows. The Five Minute Reedmaker has a different suggestion.
The Crow and High Notes – Why do your high notes work SOMETIMES but not ALL the time? Could the CROW have any influence here? The Five Minute Reedmaker explores and explains.
Day Three Finishing – How does a Day Two Reed get to be a “finished” reed? What does “finished” even mean? I’ve shared these various skills many times in many videos – but in this series, I talk about the specs of my batch process. Enjoy!
Sort Reeds With Me! – You’ve heard me talk about how on Day Three, I treat reeds like individuals. I look for what each one needs, and what I can get out of it. I don’t do the same thing to each reed! But what does that mean when the GOAL is a very consistent product? How does individuality play into it? What does consistent even mean?
The Tip is Too Closed! – A viewer question: Why do all my reeds close up when dry? I notice yours always arrive open and will stay open with subsequent playing and drying out… My opening stays open for the first 4 days until the reed is basically done. This is pretty consistent… so I wonder if it is something I am doing. Does it matter?
Part 4 Miscellaneous
English Horn Reeds – English horn reeds are MOSTLY just like oboe reeds. Here are some of the details that make them different.
• How to use your oboe mandrel to wind an EH reed
• Measurements and structures of an EH reed
• How and why to put wire on
• How and why to put tubing on the end
Wire on the English Horn Reeds – Perhaps the most microscopic of questions: which direction should the little poke-y end of the wire face on an English Horn Reed? The Five Minute Reedmaker has some thoughts.
Oboe d’amore reeds – For special occasions and Bach gigs!
Breaking in a Reed – A question from Alex: what does “breaking in” a reed do? The Five Minute Reedmaker explores the answer.
Reed Cleaning – How to use a plaque to rejuvenate an older oboe reed. More information on this technique HERE.
Rejuvenating Your Old Reed – A reed that has been gloriously good is going downhill. Obviously, you can clean it to rejuvenate it a bit. But what else can you do to save an old friend and squeeze just a little more life OUT OF IT?
Loose Sides – Loose sides are such a frustrating problem! It’s not always obvious what causes them or how to prevent them.
Weather and Reeds – Advice for making reeds as the winter season rolls in.
Springtime Reeds – The Five Minute Reedmaker talks about the effect of Spring Weather on her reedcase. Can we salvage a reed that was made two weeks – and a full season – ago?
Meet Joe Reed – Learn about the liberating concept of “Joe Reed” – the reed that doesn’t have to be awesome yet! I completely stole this idea from the great Erica Anderson, and it’s my new favorite reed-teaching tool.
Soaking Your Reeds – How long do you soak your finished oboe reed to get it ready to play? What about a blank that you need to work on? Does it matter how hot or cold the water is? Do you actually have to worry about these details?
Different Reeds for Different Oboes – More a philosophical analysis than a true how-to video – from a Live Facebook presentation. When you move from one oboe to another, how does your setup change? Is that even an answerable question?
Sanitizing Oboe Reeds – How can you keep your reeds SAFE this cold, flu, and COVID-19 season? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
Fear and Scarcity – This reed is too sharp. WHY? Is this really a reed problem?
Should you FREEZE your Reeds? – Stay with me here. The question: can you FREEZE your reed to keep it good for later? My answer: …yes…but…SHOULD YOU?
Blindfolded! – “Can you finish a reed blindfolded?” my friend asked, and I laughed, but then I thought about it. It seemed plausible. After all, I routinely coach people to finish a reed by the sound of the crow. Surely all of the scraping technique is in muscle memory. How hard could it be? And could anything be learned from the experiment?
Reeds and Humidity – Humidity and temperature have a dramatic impact on your reeds. Is there any way to prepare in advance for such conditions?
Reed Choice – The Five Minute Reedmaker confesses a personal weakness, and discusses strategies to prepare for changing conditions in performance.
Coming Back to the Oboe – When you are coming back to the oboe after a layoff, whether that is two weeks, two months, or two years, it feels AWFUL to play the instrument. Foreign. Clunky. Miserable.
Reed Adjustment – Adjustment is distinct from finishing. It’s the small tweaks that take a finished reed from OK to EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED. And many people don’t dare to do them!
More on Endurance – How does endurance on the oboe relate to reeds? How does it relate to running? This conversation has come up for me multiple times this week, so it feels timely to share!
What Shapes SELL? – The question: If I want to get into supplying shaped cane to my customers, what shapes should I provide? The answer: That depends. Who ARE you as an oboist, as a business owner, as an educator?
Hierarchy of Reeds – Of course you want your reed to sound good. We all want that. But other factors are MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. Here’s what you need to solve FIRST when you make your reeds!
Reed Resolutions – Is it helpful to consider a New Years Resolution around your own reedmaking? From my experience? Goals and intentions WORK. Reflecting back and seeing what felt good and what didn’t and what you want to change going forward has real-world value.
Endurance for Oboe Players – As we begin to return to the oboe, after the year-end slowdown and THE 2020 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, we remember just how DIFFICULT it is to play this instrument. The most common struggle I hear about is ENDURANCE. There are plenty of things to think about here – physical tension, breathing, and stability of embouchure and reeds are all important factors. The Five Minute Reedmaker breaks these down. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help YOU to get back to making music easily and beautifully again!
Glorified Long Tones – What if all music was no more difficult than a beautiful, supported long tone on your instrument?
Reeds and Vibrato – A question from Trevor: “I have a request for your next video: the relationship between reeds and vibrato. Why some reeds seem to take it better than others. Some like to “sing” and some don’t.
Old Reeds – A listener question: “I would love to hear your thoughts on criteria for deciding when a reed is completely “done.” When it is played out. When should it be given the ax, and when is it beneficial to set it aside for different weather/playing scenarios? It can be a source of internal stress for me to have my reed case crowded with older, marginally working reeds, and feeling like I don’t have space or “permission” for new reeds but also not feeling like I have reeds that really function like I need them to.”
Ugly Fixes – As oboists, we like to keep our faults to ourselves. But what about when our reeds visibly betray our imperfections?
Guilt and Shame – I had a request for a video on reedmaking mindset – specifically, on the BAD FEELINGS that we sometimes have around this skill, around our abilities, around ourselves. Can you relate to this question?
Fear and Anxiety – Here’s my second video on reedmaking mindset – specifically, on the BAD FEELINGS that we sometimes have around this skill, around our abilities, around ourselves. Can you relate to this question?
Wiring an English Horn Reed – I’ve had several questions about this recently. WHY do we put wire on our EH reeds? HOW do we do it efficiently and properly, without having wild curls of wire all over our table?
The Happiest Musician – My new BOOK is coming out next week! You can preorder the Kindle version now or buy the paperback on February 1, at https://amzn.to/3H4GpIw
Gripping the English Horn Reed – This is a requested follow-up to last week’s Gripping the Mandrel video. English horn reeds are easy to make – they’re super forgiving compared to oboe reeds- but they are HARD to HOLD! The Five Minute Reedmaker has some techniques to share.
Are My Reeds GOOD Enough for a Reed Business? – I have gotten this question frequently, always put to me with some embarrassment. I wonder if this is actually not even the right question! But I do have some thoughts.
Reed Choice and Maintenance – Today’s video comes from a question submitted by Julia: “I wonder if you would write about or produce one of your awesome videos about reed management on the day of a performance. I experience a lot of anxiety I would LOVE to move past – between an hour pre-performance rehearsal, followed by an hour sitting around for the performance, then the performance itself, I worry about my performance reed giving out at the critical moment if I use it to rehearse, yet I worry about rehearsing on a reed I’m not using in the performance. And how do I best keep a reed in great condition for an hour while sitting around?”
My Four Minute Reed – In response to @oboeron‘s excellent and exciting Reed Race video, I point out that there is a great value in being ABLE to make a fast reed, even though we might not always choose to DO that.
Part 5: Reed Repair Shop
Anthony – A virtual reed lesson with Jennet Ingle.
Dave – A virtual reed lesson with Jennet Ingle.
Commercial Reeds – What do you do when your commercially-made, profiled-cane reed is not up to your standards? Here’s my only slightly judgmental take.
Annette – Three reeds look very much alike, and are beautifully constructed. Why are they so different? Watch me solve someone else’s reed problems!
Karen – Karen’s reeds have a lot going for them! But a couple of consistent issues stand in the way of greatness. Do you recognize any of these problems in your own reed work?
Kathy – Three reeds on different tubes. They have their differences, yes – but one important problem is consistent for all three!
Kate – There’s a reason I usually give up on a reed after 5 minutes. You can really hear my frustration as I keep trying to recover Kate’s Reed Number 3 – but some reeds just can’t be saved.
Oboist 787 – This oboist , Oboist 787, chose to be anonymous. But I was eager to share their video, because there’s a LOT of value here.
- Why overwinding is a big deal
- Why you need a stop between the tip and the heart
- How to rebalance a reed when it SEEMS already too short and easy
- Balancing a reed to the crow
- HOW MANY THINGS get better when the sides and corners of the tip are the thinnest parts!
- The best hand position to access the left side of the reed
- How to safely scrape in the heart
- How to create symmetry after you make a mistake
- Sometimes you have to CLIP to get the crow back?
Gwen – All three of these reeds are BEAUTIFULLY constructed, but to Gwen they felt too hard and too flat. Ironically? She had scraped TOO MUCH, in ONE specific area.
Jerry – I loved Jerry’s reeds! In fact, I learned some things from them. (These reeds are from an Opus One gouger, on the Jeanne M shape)
Anne – Today’s Reed Repair Shop is extra long – because I went back in for a second attempt at Anne’s reeds. And we’re both glad I did! We discuss:
- How to finish a reed that came off a profiling machine
- Specific knife strokes to work at the tip, in the windows, and over the heart
- What to do when the response is JUST awful How to deal with notches in the cane
- Strategies for the windows
- When an overlap goes wrong…
- The magic of persistence
Oboist 593 – All three of these reeds were ALMOST reeds. But fundamental flaws from earlier in the process stymied all of them.
- Why a consistent tie length is important
- Why the overlap is important
- Where a leak is a recoverable problem, and where it’s fatal
- The importance of knowing your measurements
And yet – some reeds want to be reeds. It’s worth scraping more!
Oboist 377 – In Oboist 377’s reeds, we learn:
- EXACTLY how to work in the tip to make the corners the thinnest part
- How to deal with a CHIRP
- How to think about the structure of the Heart
And all three turn out quite lovely!
Have I ruined my Jennet Ingle reed? – Anne had ordered one of my reeds. It was too hard for her. She worked on it, it didn’t really get better. Her question: Have I wrecked this? How should I have approached it differently?
Spoiler alert: Success! I adjusted this reed to be easier for her, and I explained how.
LaVon – LaVon’s reeds are very DIFFERENT from each other. Each one has something to teach us. THANK YOU, LaVon, for sharing these reeds with us!
Evan – Evan’s reeds are very short and lack stability. Is this a tip issue? Windows? Spine? Heart?
Ted – Ted’s reeds all felt different to him. But they LOOKED basically the same to me! Here’s what happens when your habits CRYSTALLIZE into being your consistency. You’ll hear me get GIDDY about how easy and fun these reeds are to diagnose and fix.
Sally – Sally’s reeds all LOOK like great reeds. They feel a little different from each other – but the solutions were ALL the same. Isn’t it amazing how the very same subtle structural problem can manifest in different ways on the finished reed?
Anne – Anne’s reeds all work, but they have a distinctive feature that LOOKS very different from mine. We explore:
- taking a chirp out of a reed
- seeking symmetry in the rooftop
- finishing a Day One reed
- thinning versus shortening the heart
Oboist 564 – These reeds have some issues in common – looseness at the top, thinness in the center. Can the Five Minute Reedmaker recover them?
Oboist 250 – These reeds were all TOO CLOSED and BARELY CROWED. The Five Minute Reedmaker explains why, and turns them back into reeds.
Julie – Julie needs her reeds to be light and responsive. But she ALSO needs them to be stable and hold their pitch up! The Five Minute Reedmaker struggles at first, but gets there by the end.
Christine – This is a study of three reeds from three stages of Christine’s reedmaking. We ALL do this, right? We try one thing and it works until it doesn’t, and then we pendulum the other way, and eventually, SOMEDAY, we hope to find our way to the perfect Baby Bear reed.
Kim – Kim’s reeds have a beautiful consistency to them. They respond easily and play up and down the whole oboe. BUT they sound so wild she can’t stand them! The Five Minute Reedmaker happily diagnoses them.
Oboist 353 – These reeds look so right! But they all suffer from the same symptoms – a little too difficult to play over extended periods, a B crow that DOESN’T improve by clipping. The Five Minute Reedmaker is happy to dig in and discover the answer.
Sarah – Sarah’s reeds are all too short and too flat. She’s a consistent and savvy reedmaker who has done everything right – except for a couple of things. The Five Minute Reedmaker offers some thoughts.
Oboist 722 – What does the crow mean about the pitch of your reed? What does the crow mean about how much you like the reed? Is there something ELSE going on to make these reeds feel bad? The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
Oboist 480 – These reeds are working. But they could be so much better! The hearts are hugely disproportionate, and that is causing leaks, pitch instability, and a host of other problems. The Five Minute Reedmaker digs in.
Susan – These reeds both WORK! They even feel pretty good. Does that mean they are perfect and can’t be improved? Absolutely not! The Five Minute Reedmaker explains.
The MS That Isn’t – In this special Reed Repair Shop episode, I tear apart some of my OWN reeds, reeds that were returned by a customer as too hard. My goal was to understand what went amiss for my customer, so I can improve their experience and that of others, AND to normalize for other professional reedmakers that we are not and cannot be perfect all the time.
Kathy B – These three English horn reeds all have slightly different issues, so we were able to talk about: structure of the tip, notches in the windows, breaching the rails, leaking, wide shapes, upper register stability, wire, and sound. It was fun to work on these!
Shelly – These three reeds looked just right – but weren’t, quite. The SMALLEST amounts of scraping absolutely lit them up. Does your diagnosis match mine?
Lydia – These three reeds looked and felt different. Hopefully as you watch, you’ll find helpful tips for all sorts of reed finishing issues!
Karen – Karen’s reeds all look correct. The measurements are right, the winding is above reproach. They play! But somehow, the balance is not right. Play along and fix these three reeds with me!
Cheryl – In this Reed Repair Shop, we have three perfectly functional good reeds, on three different shapes. The Five Minute Reedmaker analyzes the reeds, notices how the scrapes change over the shapes, and makes some modest tweaks – hopefully improvements!
Oboist 349 – A few really interesting things about this anonymous oboist’s reeds. They are so well constructed and so consistent that it was easy to pick up on a couple of small habits getting in their way. They were clear about what they WANTED in a reed, which made it easy for me to help them – or at least to not get too far off track. And these reeds introduced two variables – gouge and staple – that I invite viewers to comment on!
Oboist 1092 – “Hi Jennet, I just bought my first gouger and am having an existential crisis after scraping the first three reeds I wrapped with my new gouge. They don’t feel or sound like my reeds at all and I am trying not to panic. If you’d be willing, along with sending you the three reeds, I would love to send you a few pieces of the cane I just gouged to see what you think of that too. I thought it may be a fun Reed Repair Workshop – New Gouger: Existential Crisis.“
Reed Classes & Lessons
Learn more about reedmaking from one of my classes or a private lesson with me.