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How To: Make A Reed

01 June, 2020

Making reeds is an artform in and of itself for some of our woodwind players. In real-time, this process takes anywhere from 3 days to a week. And even then, you still might need another couple of weeks to get a playable reed!

By Sydney Symphony Bassoon Fellow Jordy Meulenbroeks

I’ve been making reeds for about seven years now, since one of my first bassoon tutors, John Cran, taught me.

I still keep the very first reed I made as a memento! Reed making is a very precise art and every bassoonist seems to have their own slightly different way of doing it.

The process shown in this video is called making ‘blanks’. Usually this takes three days to a week to let the cane properly dry and rest but doesn’t produce a playable reed just yet.

After a blank is made, it will still require some precise scraping at the blade (the area where the mouth goes when playing) using knifes, sandpaper, files, and even some machinery which can take weeks again before the reed is deemed playable!