I don’t use fishskin, but some oboists do. I used to, but then I was introduced to parafilm and opted to go for that when necessary. Of course we all strive to have reeds that don’t leak and then we don’t have to deal with anything like this, but commercial reeds — including the handmade ones I’ve ordered from a number of makers — tend to leak. So I keep parafilm on hand to fix student’s reeds, and with any of my own that are leaky (could that happen?!). Others I know use plumber’s teflon tape, which is fine but it is so darn white and noticeable. Kind of like advertising leaky reeds. ;-)

Last night at opera fishskin came up for some reason. I said, “I was told it was from the intestines of a fish years ago, but I’ll bet I’m wrong.” And I also know I’m gullible. So today I finally looked up fishskin (also known as Goldbeater’s skin). Well, it’s not from a fish. It’s from a cow. And yes, it is from the intestines.

I’m even happier I have a life supply of parafilm.


  1. Ewwww. I used fishskin until I read this. I guess I have to go buy some parafilm now.

  2. Or just don’t make leaky reeds! :-)

  3. where do you get parafilm/what is it exactly? I was using plumber’s tape until recently but depending on where the leak is sometimes it kills too many vibrations (in my experience)…and yes it is very visually obvious! (lately I have been using fishskin…the gross out factor doesn’t really bug me but if there’s a good alternative I’m interested). thanks!

  4. I believe Forrests sells parafilm, but I just googled it and bought a bunch of it from some supply place. It stretches and you just wind it around the reed, but really I think plumber’s tape is about the same thickness, so if you don’t like that you won’t like parafilm either!

  5. I’ve never tried parafilm, but I vastly prefer using cigarette paper to using fishskin. Like plumber’s tape it’s visible, but it works really well, and it’s much easier to get to the right size than fishskin.

  6. I try not to buy cigarette paper; I just don’t like giving money to that industry. (I use end papers from a beauty supply shop for water issues.)

  7. Oh … and welcome back to school! I hope the year is great for you, and I look forward to your posts about it. :-)