We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Do I Choose the Best Oboe Reed?

By A.M. Boyle
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The quality of an oboe reed is key in playing the instrument because it affects the tonal quality and overall sound. Even the highest-quality oboe in the hands of the best oboe player can sound terrible if the oboe doesn’t have a good-quality reed. Most musicians agree that the best reed is one that is handmade from high-quality bamboo, or tube cane. Second best on the list would be a reed that is machine profiled but hand finished. Mass-produced, machine-finished reeds are typically not the best choice, and fiber or plastic reeds should generally be avoided.

Most serious oboe players agree that the best choice for an oboe reed is one that is made completely by hand from start to finish. While handmade reeds tend to be more expensive than mass-produced ones, overall, they tend to have a better response and tone quality. The best oboe reed is one made from high-quality tube cane that is meticulously shaved and shaped over time by someone who is trained, educated, and experienced in the art of making oboe reeds. When choosing a handmade oboe reed, look for one that has a strong, well-defined tip and a sturdy spine, which is a thicker line down the middle. The reed should otherwise be smooth and free of any gouges, cracks, or indents.

Finding a reliable producer of handmade oboe reeds can be a challenge. Some oboists answer the challenge by learning how to make the reeds themselves. The process is an art and cannot be learned overnight, but if you are up for a challenge, it is certainly one way to ensure that you can always find the best oboe reed to suit your particular needs and playing style. Many colleges and music schools offer classes on making your own oboe reeds, but it is always helpful to learn from someone who has been doing it for many years.

If you are not committed to making your own oboe reeds or finding ones that are exclusively handmade, machine-profiled oboe reeds that are hand finished could be a good alternative for you. They are not not the best oboe reeds on the market. A reed that is mass produced by a machine then shaped and finished by hand, however, can still provide good quality and tone.

When searching for the best oboe reed, those that are mass produced, shaped, and finished by machine are probably not your best choice. Reeds made in this fashion tend to rush the process and don’t typically give the cane time to settle into its shape. This can cause the reed to be brittle, inflexible, and nonresponsive. In turn, this will greatly affect the sound of the oboe and the way that you play it.

Some manufacturers produce oboe reeds made from fiber or plastic. While these types of reeds may be passable for other instruments, such as the saxophone, they do not work quite so well for an oboe. If you are looking for the best oboe reed, therefore, you will likely want to stay away from any reeds that are made from plastic or fiber and stick to ones that are made from good-quality tube cane.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Feb 21, 2014

I didn't play the oboe in band, but since I never got beyond high school band, I never knew people made their own oboe reeds. My friends just bought the ones at the band instrument store. I knew they were darned expensive, though. I could get a clarinet reed for about 50 cents, but the oboe reeds were like $8 apiece, so you had to be extra careful with them. Chip a clarinet reed? No big deal. 50 cents gone and just replace it. Chip an oboe reed? That was a bad, bad thing.

I'll have to ask friends who were in college marching bands if they ever made their own reeds. That's interesting. Certainly a cheaper alternative if you have the know-how.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.