An oboe reed can make or break an oboe's usability and sound. A good reed is responsive, balanced, and stable. But too often, reeds are too thick, too long, too open, too closed, too sharp -- you name a problem, and it's a possibility for an oboe reed. So how do you determine the right adjustments for your reed? First, you need to diagnose common oboe reed problems. Start with this guide, then check out our guide to oboe reed adjustments.
Common Flat Reed Issues:
Gouge - using cane that is gouged too thin can result in reeds being flat in pitch. If you're gouging your own cane, always keeping an eye on the measurements of your cane is crucial. If you tend to favor cane that is gouged on the thinner side then adjusting your scrape will be necessary as to not take too much cane out at the beginning stages of reed making.
Tip opening - often times, no matter how well the reed is scraped, a tip opening that is too large can result in flat reeds. Something to keep in mind, scraping on a reed that is too open to adjust pitch will likely not solve the problem. If the pitch is already flat to begin with, then removing cane will only lower the pitch further. In the early stages of the reed's life you can always attempt to squeeze the tip closed with your thumb and forefinger or you can also squeeze at the bottom of the reed just above the string. In both these cases you can risk cracking the reed. Never use anything other than your fingers - avoid pliers or any thing else as you risk damaging the shape of the top of the staple effectively making it unusable again. After a few days the piece of cane may settle down but if the opening is consistency too large you may need to start a new reed.