Home oboe What is the Double Reed Oboe Called? You’d Like to Know

What is the Double Reed Oboe Called? You’d Like to Know

by Madonna

The reed is a critical component of the oboe, responsible for producing the instrument’s distinctive sound. Unlike single-reed instruments like the clarinet or saxophone, the oboe utilizes a double reed, consisting of two pieces of cane bound together. This double reed vibrates when air is blown between the blades, creating the sound that defines the oboe’s character. Understanding the construction and function of the oboe reed is essential for oboists to produce quality sound and maintain their instruments.

What is the Double Reed Oboe Called?

The double reed oboe is simply called the “oboe.” Unlike other woodwind instruments that may have variations with different reed configurations (such as the single-reed clarinet or saxophone), the oboe exclusively uses a double reed. The term “oboe” refers to both the instrument itself and the family of instruments that share similar characteristics and playing techniques, including the English horn and bassoon.

Characteristics of the Oboe Reed

The oboe reed is distinguished by its double-bladed design and intricate construction. Each reed consists of two thin pieces of cane that are shaped, trimmed, and bound together to form a tight seal. The blades of the reed are carefully profiled and shaped to achieve the desired thickness and curvature, allowing them to vibrate freely when air is blown through the instrument.

Construction of the Oboe Reed

The process of making an oboe reed requires precision, skill, and attention to detail. Oboe reed makers, known as reed makers or oboists, typically begin with raw cane sourced from specific regions known for producing high-quality cane suitable for reed making. The cane is carefully selected, sorted, and processed to remove any imperfections or irregularities.

Once prepared, the cane is soaked to soften it before being shaped and scraped into the desired dimensions. Reed makers use specialized tools such as reed knives, mandrels, and forming machines to shape the cane and refine the blades to achieve optimal resonance and responsiveness. The finished reed is then tested and adjusted as needed to ensure proper playability and sound quality.

Tips for Working with Oboe Reeds

For oboists, proper care and maintenance of oboe reeds are essential for achieving consistent performance and longevity. Here are some valuable tips for working with oboe reeds:

Rotation: Rotate your oboe reeds regularly to prevent them from becoming worn or warped due to prolonged use. Having a rotation of reeds allows them to dry out fully between playing sessions, reducing the risk of mold growth and extending their lifespan.

Storage: Store your oboe reeds in a protective case or reed case to shield them from damage and exposure to moisture. Avoid leaving reeds lying loose in instrument cases or exposed to extreme temperatures, as this can cause warping or cracking.

Hydration: Keep your oboe reeds hydrated by soaking them in water for a few minutes before playing. This helps to soften the cane and improve the reed’s responsiveness and playability. Avoid over-soaking reeds, as this can cause them to become waterlogged and lose their shape.

Adjustment: Learn basic reed adjustment techniques to fine-tune your oboe reeds to suit your playing preferences. This may involve adjusting the tip opening, blade thickness, or wire placement to achieve optimal response, tone, and stability.

Sanitation: Practice proper hygiene by regularly cleaning and sanitizing your oboe reeds to prevent the buildup of bacteria and mold. Rinse reeds with clean water after each use and consider using a mild disinfectant solution or alcohol wipe to sanitize them periodically.

Seek Professional Assistance: Consult with a qualified oboe instructor or experienced reed maker for guidance on reed selection, adjustment, and maintenance. They can offer personalized advice and recommendations based on your individual playing style and preferences.


By following these tips and incorporating proper care and maintenance practices into your routine, you can prolong the life of your oboe reeds and enjoy consistent performance and sound quality on the instrument. Remember that working with oboe reeds is a skill that develops over time with practice and patience, so don’t hesitate to seek guidance and support from knowledgeable mentors or resources within the oboe community.

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