Aperture: The aperture is the opening of the reed. The opening should be oval rather than round or diamond shaped. Sides should close first, center last.

Back: This area of the reed falls below the heart. Using the American scrape, you’ll see four scraped areas of the back (two on each side of the reed). The back is about half the length of the reed. It is about 11mm in length.

Bark: The shiny part of the cane is called bark. The tip and back shouldn’t have any bark left. You should have about 3mm of bark beneath the bottom portion of the back, and the rails will also be bark. Similar to rests in music, the bark — the unscraped portions of cane — are very important.

Blend: This is the area between the heart and the tip. You want a smooth transition between heart and tip. A smooth blend allows the vibrations to go from the tip down through the heart and back. You don’t want the blend to look like a quick drop-off. you want it to be gradual.

Heart: The heart is in between the tip and the back. This is, in fact, the heart of the reed! Scrape too much and you’ve lost your sound and strength. It’s best to deal with this area very carefully. It is around 5mm long. (My heart is sometimes shorter than this, actually.) It is thicker than the upper portion of the back.

Rails: On each quadrant there is a slim portion on the edges that is left unscraped until you reach the heart.

Spine: The center of the reed is always the thickest part. You want to be able to see a center line that runs from the back all the way to the tip when you hold the reed to the light (it shouldn’t be so thick that you see it without back light). This is called the spine. It’s about as important as your own spine. (Well, maybe not quite, but close!)

Tip: The end, or tip (duh!), of the reed. The sides of the reed begin at around 66, while the center of the tip is around 2mm higher, so that there is an inverted, stretched out v-shape. If your reed is 70mm long you have a 4mm long tip on the sides, and 68 in the center.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Oboe reedmaking resources » Bret Pimentel, woodwinds

  2. I found my definifition of a reed, I once did a work of art I called a reed. Thank you, it is the heart and strength. Beverly Henley

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