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How do i know if my reed is dead?

Even a good reed has a limited life span. No matter how hard a student tries, no matter how careful they are taking it in and out of the reed case, oboe reeds just do not last forever. Knowing when to buy a new reed is just as important as knowing where to get one.

There are a lot of factors involved in sound production on the oboe. As a mouth piece, the reed is just one part of the mechanism that produces tone.
So how do you know when it is time for a new reed?
Here are a few good indications that it is past time for a new reed:

  • If you open the reed case, and a horribly foul stench fills the air!
  • If the wood is tinted black on either the inside or the outside of the reed!
  • If two blades are so closed that you have to squeeze it open to see through the reed!
  • If one of the blades has cracked and the double reed has become a triple reed!
  • If you are compelled to use unnatural embouchure positions to play in tune!
  • If you are using the right fingering, but the note produced is wrong!
  • If the tip of the reed look like your cat or dog chewed on it!
  • If the corners of the tip have mysteriously vanished…
  • If the two blades have separated and you can see into the middle of the reed through the sides of the blades!
  • If you hit the tip of the reed on either your lips or teeth and it gets much more difficult to play!
  • If the opening of the tip looks more like a square, circle, or triangle than an oval!
  • If you consistently can’t get the high notes and low notes to speak in the correct register (and your teacher has eliminated your voicing, fingering, and instrument as the issue)!
  • If producing a sound on the instrument becomes increasingly difficult!
  • If producing the desired tone becomes increasingly difficult!