Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


A study of oboe reed construction


Physics Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


The construction of reeds is of much interest in the oboe community, because professional oboists spend as much time making reeds as they do practicing. Each oboist uses an individual methodology resulting from different training and personal physiology. To investigate how different reed construction affects the resulting sound, 22 professional oboists were recruited to make three reeds apiece for this study. First, a controlled batch of reed cane (internodes of the grass Arundo Donax) was selected based on microscopic inspection of cellular composition as well as macroscopic physical characteristics. For most of the participants, the cane was then processed identically to the stage known as a blank, after which the participants finished their reeds according to their usual methods. (The few participants who made their own blanks still used the controlled cane and also a controlled staple, the metal cylinder that attaches the reed to the oboe.) The sound spectra of recordings of each participant playing on his/her respective reeds were analyzed, as was a spectrum of the crow (sound without the oboe attached) of each reed in an anechoic chamber. These spectra were correlated to measured physical attributes of the reeds.

Conference Name

Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

Conference Location

San Fransisco CA

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