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 Charles reeds
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2018-01-21 00:12

I am relatively new to oboe, and still trying to learn to make reeds. I play a Yamaha 441. I was clearing out my some old reeds recently, and happened upon a couple Charles Double-reeds student medium reeds that I got a few years back. Now, I play with a small orchestra, and continually struggle with intonation. Usually I am quite sharp, and hopelessly so above the staff. These reeds, however, play quite comfortably in tune above the staff. They are a bit longer than the ones I have been playing. Is it really that simple? Should I try a few more of these? Should i try making some with similar dimensions? Are they perhaps a better match for my student oboe?

Jim C.

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 Re: Charles reeds
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2018-01-21 02:20

It is not as simple as having reeds that are a little bit longer, although that can help, all other things being equal. But all things are almost never equal.

In my experience, the most sure-fire way of bringing down pitch is to take a bit out of the sides of the heart. Very little, or your reed will never be up to pitch again! This will affect the pitch of all notes, but I find that it affects the upper registers more than the lower.


Middle-Aged Amateur

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 Re: Charles reeds
Author: tgenns 
Date:   2018-01-21 02:55

Your best bet is to take some lessons from an experienced teacher, since they could tell immediately what the problem is. Playing sharp can have multiple causes. It could be your reeds are too short. Other possibilities are that you are taking too much reed into the mouth and / or biting too much on the reed. Also, thinking "OH or AH" rather than "EE" in your mouth and throat cavity can help bring your pitch down and improve your sound. It sounds like the Charles student reeds have the stability you need for the high notes and pitch in general. They are probably your best bet for now, and then later on you could try others once you have stabilized your pitch with the Charles reeds. As for making reeds, you may want to try imitating the Charles reeds -- but manage your expectations. It takes years of making a lot of reeds before anyone gets competent at it.

Hope that helps.


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 Re: Charles reeds
Author: Wes 
Date:   2018-01-21 23:52

Well, I once went river rafting on the Arkansas river in Colorado. Bassoonists were on one side of the boat and oboists on the other. Brian Charles was on board but he never mentioned oboe reeds. But he was a great co-passenger.

To test the tuning of a reed, I would expect it to crow a C when the lips are on the edge of the thread and also crow a C with the lips on the very tip of the reed. In addition, the crow should not rise in pitch when you blow harder, sounding like a police whistle. If it passes these tests, it could play in tune on many oboes.

If you can, take a look at the Light book on oboe reeds.

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 Re: Charles reeds
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-02-10 23:33

My question would be, can you match pitch on a tuner, looking at it? Can you bend below pitch?

I played one semester in a community college orchestra a few years ago, because they are always in need of players and welcome adults from the community. The one oboe student played 1st and I happily played 2nd. She would put the tuner in front of her to tune the orchestra, start to blow, be incredibly sharp, and then bend the pitch down to 440 for the orchestra to tune.

Then when we started actually playing, she immediately went 1/4 tone sharp and stayed there. It was a technique issue (and in her case, an ear issue, but you know you are sharp;) I'm not saying it is a technique issue with you because I don't know, but it is worth a try with the tuner to see if it is simply a habit and not a reed problem.

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 Re: Charles reeds
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2018-02-11 00:44

Actually, that describes me almost perfectly, but is proper technique really to have to be continuously bending every note down to concert pitch? Isn't it better to have a reed adjusted to play centered comfortably at concert pitch and bend only the notes you have to due to oboe note to to note and octave to octave differences? Now, A on the staff is not necessarily the most centered or stable note on my oboe, so it might need a little bending. Id have to think a little about a good note tomconsider when adjusting a reed. Maybe D. I happen to have a few reeds right now that are centered pretty well, maybe even flat on a few notes.

I actually think I can match a pitch by ear better than by looking at a tuner, but i haven't really tried it with the orchestra. If we play with a piano or harpsichord, i try to take the pitch from there, not sure I am always successful. The conductor has way better pitch than I do. 😉

Jim C.

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