Being a great bassoonist isn’t just about playing great.  It is also about being a scientist and craftsman, because both of those traits are needed to be a reed maker.  I’m one of those weird people who enjoys the challenge reed making presents.  I like working with my hands and at the end of an hour having something to show for my time!  I’ve studied reed making with many different teachers since I was 16.  I am pleased to say that after a bathtub full of “experimental” reeds, I now make good consistent reeds.

Reed making is a multi-day endeavor and requires many tools.  The steps, in order:

  1. Gouge
  2. Profile
  3. Shape
  4. Form the tube– I been successful with different methods at different times in my career.  My two best methods are below.  I currently use the “Sydney style”.
    1. Chicago style reeds
    2. Sydney style reeds
  5. Soak and dry the reed for a week
  6. Wrap the reed
  7. Rest the reed for at least 6 months
  8. Clip the tip
  9. Finish the reed

If you’re new to reed making, familiarize yourself with the technical jargon of reed making by reviewing the glossary of bassoon reed making terms, view the standard measurements of bassoon reeds, make a shopping list of tools required for the different steps, and read tips about reed making.  Be sure to keep a reed journal.  Enjoy making part of your instrument and taking control over a very important aspect of bassoon playing!