Choosing the Best Saxophone Brands

ThBuffet Crampon Saxophonee first thing you’ll need to do is familiarize yourself with brands and models.  There are many different brands and models of saxophones and it can be a daunting task to wade through the sea of instruments available to the prospective buyer.  There’s endless amounts of information online but for many this can add to the confusion.  Enlisting the help of school teachers/private lesson teachers, local professionals and music store employees will help narrow down the search.  Once you’ve decided on a specific make/model or two you can then use the internet more effectively by reading reviews and gathering what you can from the manufacturer’s website to act as your own saxophone buyer’s guide.

You don't have to buy the most expensive instrument but you should always try to get the best instrument you can afford.  Nicer instruments with a reputable brand name tend to hold their value much better than the smaller off-brand variety.  Another factor may be the type of playing one chooses to do, you wouldn't want to bring your expensive professional model saxophone to marching band practice where it could be easily damaged.  If you're just beginning your musical journey it's best to go with a good student model horn for this very reason.

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Oboe Reeds - Selecting the Reed that's Best for You

At the heart of any successful lesson, rehearsal, or concert is a good oboe reed, and no one understands this better than our oboe department.  Jeff and Steven are always on the look out for high quality, consistent reed-makers to supply a diverse selection of professional quality reeds.  We certainly understand the frustrations of searching for a great reed and we make it our mission to have a reliable source of oboe reeds for our customers. So whether you're a student new to the oboe, an aspiring reed maker still learning the ropes, a teacher who doesn't have the time to make reeds for their students, or a seasoned veteran who just needs that one back-up "just -in-case," we hope this guide will serve you well on your quest to find that 'perfect' reed for your next performance!

A Few Thoughts on 'Reed Strengths'

One of the most common questions we get in the oboe department is "what strength reed would you recommend?" or "we're looking for a _____ (fill-in-the-blank with anywhere from soft to hard) strength reed, which would you recommend?" We don't like to qualify our reed selection with strengths simply because we find it to be very subjective.  That is to say, what is 'soft' to one player could very easily be 'hard' to another or vice versa.  Since every oboist plays the oboe differently (how we use air, how we use our embouchure etc) we instead like to qualify our reeds by tip-opening and level of resistance.  For example, the smaller the tip opening, the less air required to get the tip to vibrate and less embouchure manipulation of the reed.  This type of reed would therefore be more conducive for a beginner or less-advanced level player.

That being said, let's talk about our reeds! Read More...

Stolen Instrument Information

If you have any information related to the whereabouts of these instruments, or find any of them for sale, please contact us. This post will be updated as instruments are found or new ones reported lost or stolen.

Oboes & English Horns:
Fox Model 300 #23413
Fox Model 300 #23673

Fox Model 400 #23520

Fox Model 800 #23302
Fox Model 800 #23378
Fox Model 800 #23458

Fox Model 555 English Horn #638
Fox Model 500 English Horn #1271--owned by MMI, stolen in the Chicago area, October 2012

Fossati Tiery English Horn #8119
Fossati Tiery English Horn #8185
Fossati Tiery English Horn #8199

Loree Model c+3 AK #QD69
Loree Model c+3 AK #QC89

Loree Model cR+3 Royale #QA83
Loree Model cR+3 Royale #QC06

Loree Model cR+3 Royale AK #QC53
Loree Model cR+3 Royale AK #QE20

Loree English Horn #OL73- Stolen March 10, 2014 from St. Paul, MN
Loree Oboe d'amore #RV05 - Stolen March 10, 2014 from St. Paul, MN

Bassoons:

Fox Renard Model 220 #41133
Fox Renard Model 240 #41298
Fox Renard Model 240 #41516
Fox Renard Model 222D #41098
Fox Renard Model 41 #41212

Diagnosing Common Oboe Reed Problems

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.

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Oboe Reed Adjustment Basics

As oboists, reeds are either our best friends or our mortal (or not so mortal) enemies.  They can make or break our practice sessions, performances, and auditions.  They can be as fickle as the wind or the weather and can quickly become the bane of our existence.  All this being said, reeds are the equivalent to any good puzzle - it just takes time, understanding, and patience to find the solution.  Wherever you fall on the 'reed-making spectrum' (a beginner just learning the ropes or an advanced, self-sufficient reed-maker), our expert oboists, Steven and Jeff, would like to offer some basic adjustment ideas to help you along your way.  Remember - these are just suggestions and may or may not apply to your reed-making.  Consider this food for thought!

Before adjusting an oboe reed, determine what the reed needs. Check out our guidelines for diagnosing common oboe reed issues. Once you've got an idea of what you'd like to accomplish, you're ready to get started.

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English Horn Bocals - A Basic Guide

An important part of any successful English horn performance is not just having a great reed, but also the right bocal.  Just like with bassoons, finding a good match for your English horn or oboe d'Amore is a process that takes some time and effort, and there are a lot of questions that come up along the way.  The most common question we receive is what are the differences between the makers and the different styles?  We're proud to stock a wide selection of new and used bocals by Hiniker, Ross, Laubin, Dallas, and Loree, and we're hoping this guide can answer a few of these questions for you if it's time to consider a new English horn bocal! Read More...

Great Tips for Bassoon Reed Balancing and Adjusting

Jessica and I have long been fans of Christian Davidsson's really simple reed balancing guide.

Before you get to the finer details of the scraping points of the guide, if you're using Gouged, Shaped, and Profiled cane, the first thing you probably need to do is crape out of what Christian labels (18) on the reed. My strategy for scraping out of that area is to scrape against the grain of the reed from the center out towards the corner, like so: Read More...

Clarinet Reeds Guide

Reeds

Reeds can be one of the most frustrating, but important, parts of playing any woodwind instrument. Reeds are expensive, and many times parents opt for the cheapest box of reeds available but this can have serious effects on a young player's musical development. Cheap reeds can be stuffy and hard to play, making it difficult to produce a good sound. There are many different brands of reeds and they come in different strengths, shapes or cuts. Read More...

Clarinet Mouthpieces and Ligatures

Mouthpiece Setup

Your mouthpiece setup (Reed, Ligature, & Mouthpiece) is a critical component of any total instrument setup, and may be more important than the clarinet itself in the early stages of playing. Assuming the main body of the clarinet working properly, spending a little extra time and money on mouthpiece setup can greatly improve the response, intonation, tone quality, and easy of playing of the instrument. After all, this is the part of the instrument that produces the actual sound. It's important to remember that choosing a mouthpiece setup is an extremely individual process and just because a particular setup works for one person doesn't mean it will work for you. A good clarinet teacher or our clarinet specialist will be able to point you in the right direction so don't be afraid to ask questions. Read More...