The ultimate oboe reed buying guide (updated for 2022)

What makes a good oboe reed? There is a ton of information out there, but my students often find it confusing to find some simple information. This is my short little guide on the basics.

The reed is a very personal part of the instrument, so what works for someone might not work as well for you.

This guide will give you the basic rundown of various information about reeds as well as recommend some of my favorites. Perfect practice while you learn your oboe fingering chart!

How much is an oboe reed?

Reeds can vary drastically in price, depending on where you get them from, who made them, and how many you order. Cheaper reeds can easily be found for $20, and expensive reeds like Silverstein Works can go for $150+.

Which oboe reeds are the best?

As I mentioned, this will always come down to personal taste. Many craft their own reeds, while others simply buy them online. Here is a list of the ten highest reeds sorted by rating on Amazon

Bestseller No. 1
Emerald 601MS Medium Soft Oboe Reed
  • Emerald Oboe Reeds are made from the finest French cane available. One reed per package.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Emerald Oboe Reed- Medium
  • Fine French Cane
  • Medium Oboe Reed
  • Sold Individually
SaleBestseller No. 3
Jones JR101M Oboe Reed; Medium,Natural
  • Proper tip opening obtained without using a wire
  • Cane processed by skilled craftsmen using the world’s most advanced reed machinery
  • Each reed tested and adjusted by hand
  • Great for beginners to intermediate
  • Great for beginners to intermediate, Medium
SaleBestseller No. 4
Jones JR101AMS Artist Oboe Reed; Medium Soft
  • Cane is tied to 47 mm nickel silver tube and the tip receives extra refinement
  • Heart and back are balanced with the tip after numerous tests
  • The ‘crow’ of each reed is adjusted by hand to an exact pitch
  • Play the entire range of the instrument with ease
  • Long life span
Bestseller No. 5
Marlin Lesher Oboe Reed Medium Hard
  • Beautifully cut and wound, they produce a great sound.
Bestseller No. 8
5Pcs Oboe Reeds, Bamboo Material Oboe Reeds Medium Strength Instrument Accessories for Beginning Oboist
  • [Practical Oboe Reeds] This high quality oboe reeds are playable as well as durable, these reeds are terrific for the beginning double reed player.
  • [High Quality] This high quality oboe reeds are made of qualified bamboo stripe, solid, firm and durable to use, provides a long lifespan.
  • [Great Tool] This high quality oboe reeds are great for the beginning oboist.
  • [No ‘Soaking’] Suitable for oboes, no ‘soaking’ required.
  • [Easy to Use] Play the entire range of the instrument with ease.
SaleBestseller No. 9
Marlin Lesher Oboe Reed Medium Soft
  • Oboe Reed Medium Soft
  • Marlin Lesher reeds hold up to the most discriminating of tastes
  • Beautifully cut and wound, they produce a great tone
  • Marlin Lesher reeds hold up to the most discriminating of tastes
  • Beautifully cut and wound, they produce a great tone
Bestseller No. 10
Cheerock 5Pcs Oboe Reeds Medium Soft Oboe Reed with Individual Storage Case, Oboe Instrument Accessories For Beginners
  • Made of high-quality natural bamboo stripe, durable, concentrated tone, soft, good vibration and long life.
  • Oboe reeds is lightweight with compact size, manual adjustment can have perfect tone performance.
  • Medium soft oboe reed are ideal for beginners to practice. Tip: Wet the tip of the oboe reed slightly with your mouth or water before playing.
  • Package includes 5pcs oboe reeds. Each has its own independent packaging for easy use and storage.
  • Cheerock provides a 100% money-back 60-day guarantee and 24hrs customer service. If you are not satisfied or have any questions, please feel free to contact us to get a satisfied solution.

How long does an oboe reed last?

There are many factors in how long an oboe reed is going to last for, but you’ll typically find that reeds last anywhere from 10-15 hours of playtime.

There are many factors in this time frame, but a few that might change it are the amount it’s played, the humidity of your room, and weather in general. Reeds are pretty unique, so you might find that some will get more life than others.

Caring for your oboe reed

I go through a fair bit of reeds, so I like to purchase multiples at a time to keep it convenient. Here are some affordable top-rated cases to keep them all in one place without the risk of cracking or losing them.

Bestseller No. 1
Liyafy Maroon Oboe Reed Case Storage Holds 3 Oboe Reeds Against Moisture and Easy to Carry
  • High quality wooden material,solid and durable to use.It’s very exquisite and elegant.
  • Compact size and light weight,convenient to store oboe reeds and easy to carry.
  • Strong magnetic closure design,close tightly and open easily,can protect reed not be moistured.
  • The box has wood case,brass hinges,a flannel mats and reeds holders to protect reed fixed and secure, more safe and stable.
  • Multipurpose: It not only can hold oboe reeds,but also sax or clarinet reeds in available size.
Bestseller No. 2
Oboe Reed Case,Oboe Reed Oboe Reeds Protect Against Moisture Wooden + Silk Cloth Cover Reed Case Holder Storage Box for 6pcs Oboe Reeds Maple Wooden (Blue) Oboe Reed Case Blue Box Kit Reeds Moistu ob
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO STORE: Oboe Reed Case has compact size and is light weight, convenient to store oboe reeds and easy to carry.
  • EASY TO CLOSE AND OPEN: Oboe Reed Oboe Reed is ergonomically designed to close tightly and open easily.on side of oboe reed case allows air flow to avoid mold.
  • SMALL VENTS ON SIDE: Oboe Reed is made of high quality wooden material, solid and durable to use.Has breathable holes on both sides, can prevent reeds from moisture.
  • PROTECT YOUR REEDS: Slot design in inner surface with soft fabric for protecting reed from collision, more safe and stable.
  • GREAT GIFT: Covered with beautiful silk cloth, it’s very exquisite and beautiful, also a great decoration.The case can hold 6 Oboe reeds,and can prevent your instruments from moisture.(Note:Only a case,not include reeds).
Bestseller No. 3
Bstinay 9.2 x 4.5x 2.2cm Black Oboe Reed Case Box Reeds Holder for 3pcs Oboe Reed
  • 92 x 45 x 22mm/3.62″ x 1.77″ x 0.87″(L x W xH)
  • High quality PU leather material, solid and durable. It is very delicate and elegant,comfortable for touch.
  • Small size, light weight, easy to store and carry the oboe reed.
  • Close tightly, open easily, and conserve the reed from moisture,prevent your oboe reeds from moisture. The most ideal choice for you.
  • Suitable for 3 oboe whistles.

Tips for solving oboe reed problems

The reed is too sharp

  1. It might be a bit too short. Try scraping off some wood near the back
  2. The reed opening might be too closed. This is kind of a pain to solve, but people often apply some wire in between
  3. Pull out the reed a small amount from the instrument.

The oboe reed is too flat

  1. Double-check to see that the reed isn’t split.
  2. The reed might be a little bit too long; try removing a very small amount (1mm).
  3. The cane might be too wide; try making the reed shorter.
  4. The opening could be too large. Although it may seem as if it is doing well, try holding the tip for a few seconds of the well-soaked root between your fingers. This will weaken it a little bit. Repeat the procedure a few times.

The reed is slow to respond

  1. Thin out the tip of the reed
  2. Remove a little bit of wood by the reed tip

The reed is too easy to blow

  1. It’s most likely that too much wood has been removed from the reed, or the tip could be too thin. Clip and readjust

What oboe reed is best for beginners?

I’ve gone through many reeds with my students, and usually recommend these as a good, cheap option.

10Pcs Oboe Reed,Medium Soft Oboe Reed for Beginners
  • HAND MADE OBOE REEDS: Oboe reed is tested and adjusted by hand, which can play the entire range of the instrument with ease. Firm and durable.
  • MATERIAL: This oboe reeds are made of qualified bamboo stripe, solid, firm and durable to use, provides a long lifespan. Suitable for oboes, no ‘soaking’ required.
  • HIGH QUALITY: The oboe reed has superior sound quality, it has high quality and long span life. Very easy to use. This oboe reed is a great gift for oboe players, it will bring you better playing performance.
  • APPLICATION: Play the entire range of the instrument with ease.This oboe reed is playable as well as durable, oboe reed are terrific for the beginning double reed player.
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE:Our products are guaranteed by quality. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we will provide you with the perfect solution as soon.

How many reeds are in an oboe?

Oboes are double reed instruments, and when played, generate sound by the two reeds vibrating against each other.

How should I soak my reeds?

There are a bunch of other instruments in the single reed family that allows you to soak the reed in your mouth easily. With the double reed of an oboe, however, this sort of solution isn’t going to do the trick.

Instead, we like to soak our reeds simultaneously in a separate water container at room temperature for about 2-3 minutes max.

You can use any container, but I recommend getting one with a little clip to make the reeds easier to soak.

Jones A210 Soaker Cup and Folding Music Stand Clip
  • Durable metal clip fits on traditional folding music stand
  • Large enough soaker cup to manage oboe and bassoon reeds
  • Soaker cup comes with sealable cap that won’t leak
  • Soaks entire reed evenly
  • Also available with clip for orchestral stand See A110

How do I know if my oboe reed is bad?

There are many factors to what could kill an oboe read, but there are some common issues to look out for:

  1. Cracks in the reed are going to severely limit its performance
  2. The tip gets frayed from use over time
  3. The opening of the reed will slowly collapse after continued use.

Final thoughts

I’m continually updating this page to make sure I’m recommending the highest-rated products. Have an alternative? Feel free to drop it in the comments, and I’ll try it out personally.

In the meantime, check out our recommended Oboe cases as well.

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