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available from

Howarth of London (UK)

June Emerson Wind Music (UK)

Crowthers of Canterbury (UK)

Crook and Staple (Monmouth, Wales)


Reeds 'n Stuff (Germany)

Oboe-shop.de (Germany)

Frank & Meyer (Germany)

Stephan Pieger (Germany)

Musik Spiri (Switzerland)

Atelier de Bellebois Fujimoto Eirl:

France and Japan

Hobo-atelier van der Heide (Netherlands)

Valero Reeds (Spain)


Forrests (Berkeley, CA, USA)

Hodge Products (VA, USA)

Juilliard Bookstore (NYC, USA)

RDG Woodwinds (Los Angeles, USA)

TrevCoMusic.com (Fort Worth, FL, USA)

Woodwind Workshop (NYC, USA)

ChemicalCityReeds, (Baton Rouge, LA)

Remenyi House of Music (Toronto, Canada)

Oboe Central (Australia)

Danny Yau (Hong Kong & Macau)

Carlos Galdámez

(Guatemala; El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá)

Investigating Breath Support, Vibrato and Reed-making Refinements across the World’s major styles, this unique, impartial and comprehensive book explains

Perfect Intonation

in both scales.

It details choices of Cane,

Staple, Gouger, Shaper, Knife, Profiler

and every option and refinement

of the Scrape,

along with offering

a straightforward exposition of

the Acoustics of the Oboe, Cane and Staple,

and of the predictable overall consequences of

alterations made to the

Tone Holes and Pad Height Settings

of the Oboe itself.

A book designed to help every professional, amateur and student to discover or refine a personal style: enjoy repeatable control over every aspect of tone and response.


552 Pages

with 82 World Interviews

and 115 Reeds

photographed against the light

and in profile

with complete measurements.


82 World Interviews

115 Colour Photos of Reeds with Complete Measurements

American Recommended Workflow, Tests and Checks

Musicianship ‘Beauty’ Breathing Projection 'Open Throat’

Airspeed Tonguing Embouchure Vibrato Student Reed

Immediate Corrections Reed Structure Aperture Tensions

Perfect Middle-Octave Intonation:

Introducing the ‘Golden Rule of Thumb’

International Traditions The Treasured ‘Second’ Oboist

Cane: Selection Storage Testers Micrometers

Gougers: Principles Preparation Choices Blades

Technique Settings Adjustments Geometry

Knives: Choice Technique Sharpening Stones

Shapers: Tips Machines Specific Intonation

Tying: Threads ‘Crossing’ ‘Overlap’ Technique

The Scrape: Method Regions Voicing Refinements

Profilers Skin Reed-Wire Altitude Humidity

Staples / Tubes: Choice Suitability Length Acoustics

Acoustics of Oboe and Reed: Cane and Staple / Tube Dimensions

English Horn: Staples / Tubes Crooks / Bocals Proportion

Design Intonation Oboe d’Amore Bass Oboe

Oboe Tuning: a Unique Analysis of Options & Interrelated Consequences


Understanding the Oboe Reed

by Graham Salter

This comprehensive and unbiassed guide, now selling in large numbers in almost every country of the world, addresses the numerous goals that can challenge all oboists.

It attempts

to sweep away technical mysteries by sharing a lifetime’s research into the construction, adjustment, response and intonation of both the oboe and its reeds;

to assist every student and young professional to develop or refine a personal style, to escape the bonds of uniformity;

to deepen international and especially transatlantic understanding, so that players of all styles may enjoy wider palettes of tone, production techniques, body resonances, articulation, presentation and vibrato;

to preserve styles at risk of vanishing beneath the mainstream.

Music is our language. The performer’s overriding task, inspiration and reward is to convey to the listener, through every movement and every phrase, what the composer wishes to express. Musicianship and style form the grammar; our tone is our voice. Imagination and pre-visualisation should be instilled as a routine in every beginner, the teacher’s prime rôle being to demonstrate how to bring the printed text to life. (Every element is examined in simple detail in my next book, to be released in 2019, addressed to every young musician and every music teacher.)

All oboists are seen to face the same challenges, of controlling stamina, tone and intonation without destroying the evenness, direction and flow of the musical line. Perfect intonation, though a fundamental expected by the listener, is often the most challenging to achieve. This book illustrates a unique discovery (the ‘Golden' and European 'Rules of Thumb’, published here for the first time), the underlying principle that governs both the shaper and the scrape. It guarantees complete control with simplicity – allied of course to an immediate understanding and control of the underlying structure. Later the design of reeds for the English horn and other sizes of oboe may be enhanced too by correct proportion.

Contrasted techniques worldwide govern breath support, articulation, vibrato and resistance. Each aspect is richly amplified later in 82 interviews with leading performers of all styles. Any one interview interview in itself may come to offer a complete lesson of life-changing value – maybe the most valuable aspect of the book. 115 reeds are photographed against the light and in profile, laid out against a millimetre scale, and accompanied by complete measurements including scrape thicknesses.

Yet partisan approaches may indeed be assimilated: to command a range of techniques (embouchure, vibrato, tonal resonances, presentation and projection) immensely extends the expressive flexibility of us all. Each must be valid if it achieves what the artist intends: almost no other work offers an impartial comparison of the many options and their musical and technical consequences.

Chapter 3, especially commissioned from Elaine Douvas, Principal Oboist at the Metropolitan Opera, NYC, and Head of Department at the Juilliard School, with Linda Strommen, Professor at Indiana University and at Juilliard, details a complete set of tests and refinements specifically for the American reed. Their lucid presentation proves invaluable to oboists of all styles, not only across the USA: it offers some startling bonuses for imaginative European readers too. The complete work has been widely cross-referenced for relevance.

The central section discusses technicalities: the choice and storage of cane; choosing and adjusting a gouger; equipment and accessories; the diversity and appropriate sharpening of reed-knives; the design and, uniquely, acoustics of shapers; machine-shapers and the numerous sources of confusion regarding the results they produce; altitude and humidity; the controversial effects of immersing cane in water; thread, tying, ‘crossing’ versus the ‘overlap’; goldbeaters’ skin, tape and wire; profiling machines and specific templates, with their gains and limitations.

Several unbiassed chapters then examine the diverse options of reed design, the tip, centre and back, giving appropriate common measurements. Each region of the scrape is analysed alone, using diagrams to offer clear explanations of the tone and intonation that can be entirely predicted. Diverse details from around the world may indeed be successfully combined so long as the acoustical elements add up: to be equipped with the choice enriches the vocabulary of us all.

Graphs, amplified by detailed plain-English deductions, then give a clear demonstration of the fundamental acoustic principles that govern the dimensions of cane and staple. The book concludes with another unique chapter that forewarns of the overall consequences of tuning individual notes of the oboe in preference – within the tone holes (though avoiding the bore), and essentially by making adjustments to the height setting of the keywork. Even the best oboe will shift over time as it settles. Visit a skilled professional repairer for all but the simplest adjustments! The whole system must finally work as one, and to know what to address is an arcane skill even amongst professional repairers – that has been rarer still, until now, within the fraternity of oboists.

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& Example Pages



Oboists Interviewed

& Reeds Photographed



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UTOR Understanding the Oboe Reed

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