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How Long Do Reeds Last?

I often am asked the question "How long do reeds last?" The answer is never a precise or short one. The life-span of an oboe reed depends on several factors such as:

  • Type of music being played (i.e. loud with strong articulation, soft and legato, frequent rests or continuous playing, etc.)
  • How often you play the reed (weekly, daily, twice a day)
  • Cane characteristics (soft, fibrous, hard, narrow-grained, etc.)
  • Thin/thickness of scrape
  • Soaking time
  • Storage method

The factors that shorten the life-span of a reed are:

  • Loud music, strong, repeated articulation, continuous playing.
  • Playing an hour or more every day will put more vibration "mileage" on a reed.
  • Soft and/or fibrous cane tends to absorb more water and breaks down faster.
  • Thinner scraped reeds wear out faster than thicker scrapes.
  • Repeated soakings weaken the cane to a small degree.
  • Storage in containers or inferior reedcases which allow physical contact or damage and improper drying.

Barring physical damage, a reed can last anywhere from 1-2 days to months. The life-span of a reed would probably be best rated in terms of playing-hours; something akin to tire mileage. However, even using time being played would be somewhat variable and need to be defined with a moderate range.

Copyright 2007 David Schast Reed Service & Supply, LLC



David Schast Reed Service & Supply, LLC
213 Church Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027 * (215) 782-CANE
Email:reedmaster@reedmaster.com

Copyright 2007 David Schast Reed Service & Supply, LLC