I have no children at home. We have one in college, and two are college graduates. But I’m a stay at home mom … at least for yesterday and today. Or I guess I’m a stay at home reed maker. Yes. that’s more like it, eh? The more I decide to stay at home the less gas I buy for the car (although we are getting over 50 miles per gallon at this point in our Prius!). More importantly, the more I stay home, I spend the more I work on reeds. I spent much of the day on reeds.

The first thing I do, when I’m planning on shaping cane, is to put the stuff in water (duh). While those pieces were soaking I worked on some oboe blanks I had wound earlier. So far only two actually seem to have potential, but frequently these little guys fool me. So maybe the good guys’ll turn bad and that bad guys’ll be fabulous. We’ll see. I also looked at some more of my “will they or won’t they?” oboe reeds. They all continue to stay in that category. Sigh.

When the cane had soaked a bit I shaped oboe cane, and wound three English horn reeds (using some previously shaped cane). I carved them a bit. I’m fairly certain, though, that the shape of my English horn cane is simply too wide. I’ve struggled with this shape for a while now, but I’m tired of it. I want something a narrower. Does anyone else have a shaper tip to recommend? I had two shaper tips at one point, one of which I purchased from a friend. I sold that one back to her (if I’m remembering things correctly), thinking it was the one I didn’t care for, but I’m fairly certain I blew it there. I think I need a narrower shape because my G above the staff sags and a narrower shape (I have some cane I purchased already shaped) seems to help that issue. I’d love to hear from you EH players out there!

After working on reeds I taught. That’s always a good way to check up on reeds, since I play duets with students. Oboe Reeds? Forget it! They were just not right. But one EH reed feels pretty good (one of the narrower shaped pieces of cane, of course). I just have to get the low note response to be a bit better. But I’m at least feeling a bit ‘o hope here. Since I’m doing La Mer next week English horn reeds are first on my “get ’em done” list.

Moving along …
I’m also wondering if anyone has tried the Jende knife. I’d love to hear what folks think about it. Just curious!


  1. i use carlos coelho shape. it’s a bit narrower than most which seems what you’re looking for. its great for my high notes.

  2. Thanks! I’ll check that out! 🙂

  3. I like the giacobassi shape, though I have little experience with others. (I think one of the oboe teachers at my school uses it too and she’s principal EH of the local symphony…she recommended it to me anyways)

  4. I use Hörtnagel shapers, my favourite EH-shaper is H 13, H20 (I use that sometimes) is slightly narrower, but not much. But are you sure it’s the shape? In my experience, with the right crook I can use almost any shaper…

  5. Yeah, I’m sure it’s the shape. I’m going to guess you use short scrape reeds? Am I guessing correctly? I use the long scrape. It might be that that means our shapes would also be different, but of course I don’t know for sure. (And, besides, it’s 3:46 AM so my brain is not exactly working!)

  6. I don’t know what sort of scrape I use… I’m not a very scientific reedmaker;-)
    (Actually I’m a very bad reedmaker, my Rieger gougingmachine is a lifesaver since I don’t have to do the basic scrape – I just do the final adjustments by hand.)

  7. Well, if you look at my reed making page: http://oboeinsight.com/instruction/reed-making/reed-making-part-three/ you’ll see (sort of) what my oboe reeds look like. My EH reeds look much the same, but with wire added. I know a lot of people outside of the US use the short “U” scrape, while most of us use a longer, “W” scrape.

    I’m the world’s worst reed maker. No one can possibly top how bad I am. 🙂

  8. Yes, I see what you mean -no, I don’t make reeds like that! And I never use wire…
    The Rieger-machine is fantastic, no matter what kind of scrape you want, though, since they make the mould (or pattern, or whatever you call it) after your own reeds.
    Such a timesaver!

  9. Hey!
    I was making some E Horn reeds myself today, so I thought I’d “chime” or crow in. I’ve been using an RDG -1N and with decent results. The upper G sagging is definitely common and exacerbated by wide, flabby reeds. A different bocal will make all the difference in the world, but you have to try them because they do depend on how you blow. Also, try taking your finished reed and narrowing it towards the top to make the sides look parallel. This was something my former teacher Larry Thorstenberg used to do to every reed, and it definitely works. I’m not a fan of wires, although they can work, or fishskin, but to each his/her own. Good luck!

  10. I’ve had this bocal (Lickman) for eons and it’s really great for this EH. I’m certain it’s the shape. I did try narrowing the reeds, but I think I need to cave, spend the bucks and get a better shape!

    I actually like wire on EH, while it’s an absolutely no-no on my oboe reeds. Go figure.

    Thanks for the help! 🙂