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 Shortening the staple.
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2019-06-13 15:07

Occasionally I make a reed that sounds wonderfully rich and full but very flat. Sometimes even almost a semi-tone flat. Rather than throwing such a good sounding reed away , I often shorten the staple by anything up to 5mm. And this brings the reed up to A440 pitch. I know that there is suppose to be a problem doing this as the Oboe is now 5mm shorter which means that the tone holes , especially that of the upper joint are now very slightly in the wrong place.
This would mean that the Oboe is now out of tune with itself.
However when I test the tuning by playing along with some of my 'Minus One' CDs , I haven't noticed any serious problem with the tuning. or the intervals between certain notes.
* It's the occasional reed that is about a semi-tone flat that needs the 5mm treatment. Other slightly flat reeds are brought up to pitch by about 3 or 4 mm removed from the staple.


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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2019-06-13 18:42


That sounds like a lot to raise the pitch. What length are your staples, and what length are your finished reeds?

Also, how long are your blanks when you tie them? What shaper tip are you using?


Ron Ford
Woodwind Specialist

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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2019-06-14 03:50

My staples are the standard length of 47 mm (Chiarugi) (Mandrel size 2) but I've just ordered a batch of 46 mm from K Ge Reeds.
After I get the reed to close up on the sides I usually end up with a tied on reed of about 72 mm in length. After I thin out the tip and separate the blades the reed is then mostly 70 mm in length.
I don't know what the shaper tip is but my blanks are shaped and folded. The total length of these blanks is 76 mm. They are 7 mm wide at the tip. This seems a touch too wide to me and I usually narrow them down to 6.5 mm after I tie them onto the staple. I think they are Prestini blanks.
To add to the problem, I've always been a 'flat' player. But yes. half a tone is really flat. But they have such a lovely full bodied rich sound.
Even on my Clarinet I have to use a 63 mm barrel which is the shortest that can be used without throwing the instrument out of tune (especially on the upper joint notes)
My Oboes are a Howarth S2 English Thumb Plate (1955) and a Bundy plastic Thumb Plate. Both these Oboes play very well in A440 with reeds that have been purchased. In fact the Howarth is in excellent condition and is a delight to play on. The Bundy is a very good 'knock-about' instrument and also plays quite well.


Post Edited (2019-06-14 04:01)

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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2019-06-21 20:26

If your reeds are flat, then I suggest that you try cane with a more narrow shape. The width of the tip is not necessarily the main determiner of pitch. I have found that the throat of the shape (curved part) influences the pitch more.

You could also try using the adjustable Chiarugi staples:

Bay Area, California

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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2019-06-22 00:14

Hi Hotboy. Thank you for your response to my question. I've checked out the Chiarugi adjustable staple web site. Very interesting. It seems that what Chiarugi is doing with it's various lengths of staple at the reed end , I"m doing at the cork end. So I"m assuming the result is identical.
I also see a potential problem with those Chiarugi adjustable staples is that the two different Oboes that I have have very slightly different size insert tubes. The stable cork fits into my Howarth S2 Oboe without any problems but I have to hone down the cork slightly to enable the staple to fit into the insert tube of the Bundy Oboe.


Post Edited (2019-06-22 00:15)

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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2019-06-22 02:15

"I have to hone down the cork slightly to enable the staple to fit into the insert tube of the Bundy Oboe."

A competent oboe repair technician can widen the reed receptacle in the Bundy to match your Howarth.

Bay Area, California

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 Re: Shortening the staple.
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2019-06-22 13:24

Yes Hotboy , I just may arrange for a skilled Oboe repairer to do that at some time. It all depends on how thick the tube (receptacle) is. I have an idea the metal is not all that thick.


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