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