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Reeds.... Reeds.... Reeds....!

Scraping / Profiling

The important thing to remember here is that all the measurements are made from the BOTTOM of the staple up.

These measurements are based on a 46mm staple.

Overall length when finished: 70 (71 for 47mm staples, 69 for 45mm staples)
Base of scrape: 60.5 (61.5, 59.5)
Start of Tip: 68.5 (69.5, 67.5)
It's really hard to describe this scrape. The main points are the spine which gives this thin reed strength, and the very defined base and tip. The tip is almost triangular, and longer than you might be used to.
Some rough micrometer measurements of a finished reed for a guide:

Start of hump behind tip in centre: .30-.33mm
Edge of hump at sides: .25mm
Half way down in centre: .40mm
Half way down at sides: .25-.28mm
Base of scrape at centre: .40mm
Base of scrape at sides: .29-.32mm

Cor Anglais reeds

The tying-on process is of course the same as for the oboe reeds. I use the EH shaper number 61 from Reeds n Stuff which is a copy of the original Hörtnagel template. The cane is also gouged quite thin, between .62-.63mm (when dry). Here are the measurements:
Staple: Pisoni 27mm with cork. I have recently been experimenting with the Guercio B which I also find very good.
Tie-on length: 62.5mm
finished length: 56mm
base of scrape: 45mm from base of staple
point of tip: 54mm from base of staple
I have a Loree Royale Cor Anglais. I used to use a Guercio crook which I loved, but when I moved back to the UK it was too high in pitch. I now have a lovely Loree crook.

The Process

1) Start by measuring the length for the base of the scrape. You can use the caliper gauge to make a mark on the cane by applying a small amount of pressure.


2) Using your freshly sharpened reed-knife (ALWAYS sharpen your knives before each session of reed making,) mark a line across the cane almost straight just rising very slightly at the corners. Using a heavy knife scrape in long strokes from the base of the scrape to the tip. Be systematic, doing the same number of strokes in each region. Thin out the tip slightly and cut off either with a tip cutter or a scalpel blade.


3) Now insert your plaque and continue to thin slightly the body of the reed. DON'T do too much at this stage. Remember you can't put the cane back!


4) Define the tip by measuring with your caliper gouge and marking the upper point of the tip. Scrape in a straight line up to the tip. Using a pencil, draw the shape of the tip onto the cane to use as a guide. Follow the pencil guide by making clear indents in the cane with your reed-knife (I use a finer blade for the tip.) Thin the tip.


5) Thin the sides down. You should be able to see clearly the regions of the reed (tip, spine, thinner sides) when you look at it through a light.

6) You can try the reed at this point, and adjust as necessary. Don't forget to measure using a micrometer at every stage.

These reeds will not need a wire. It is a myth that wiring will make your reed more responsive, at least with this system. All you will achieve is strangling the reed. If you have used the correct diameter cane, not used cane that is too soft, shaped it carefully and scraped it to the right measurements, you simply will not need a wire.


I use a Reeds n Stuff profiler with a CCG (Christine Gomez) template. I profile to around 75% finished and have the machine set up 1mm longer than the finished length in order to cut off to final length when the reed is finished. Reeds n Stuff machines are available through most suppliers, but if you fancy a nice weekend break, the area around where Udo Heng has his workshop - the Erzgebirge area (largest town Annaberg-Buchholz) is delightful. Udo is in Cranzach.

Want to learn more about Tying-on? Why not come for a reed-making consultation at the Oboist Clinic!

To purchase oboe or Cor Anglais reeds, or pre-gauged and shaped reed cane, visit the Reed Shop.

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