The term “Sydney Style” is an indication of where I was living when I learned how to make this type of reed. The term “Sydney” is not indicative of what other bassoonists in that region are necessarily playing on! This reed making style is an adaptation on the style taught to me by Andrew Barnes. This is the reed style I currently play on.

Start with cane that has been gouged, shaped, profiled, and has been soaking at least 2 hours.

Cut with a garden shear the excess bark/tube length.

Clear the throat of the reed with 240 sand paper, about 10 strokes in the middle of the tube between first and second wire. The reason for this is so that when you then make the tube round the throat is not congested with excessive fibers.

Cut a collar into the reed. Take only small amounts in the blade close to where the bark begins.

Sydney style reed bevel

Bevel the reed. On each of the four tube corners you will do an individual bevel. Start with the knife only just cutting into the edge at just about the second wire. The knife will rotate flat as you make your way down the side increasing both the amount of cane taken off and the angle. At the back of the cane you should have created a 45-degree cut that happened gradually from just before the second wire back.

Fold the reed over and put on the first wire, tight! At this point make sure that both of the blades are even under the wire and one is not tucked under the other. I often use my teeth if they need to be moved because it is easier than my fingers. That being said, it is imperative that the two blades of the reed be flat against each other so when the tube is formed the two blades will have an even curve and not have one tucked in to the other making it more curved or less.

Score the reed. Because the reed is already folded over you will be scoring both blades at the same time. This means your knife angle is extremely important, it must be straight, not with any angle or the scoring on the opposite side will not be correct. Make 8 cuts (I prefer 8 because that makes a more even tube when there isn’t one directly in the center) into the end of the tube, only about ¼ inch up into the tube. When you make a cut pick-up the cane and make sure you have cut through the other side clearly.


After you have made original scoring cuts you will use your thumb nail to elongate the scoring lines up the reed. On the two outside scores on each side, use your thumb to elongate the score all the way up to the first wire; there will be four of these long scores on each side of the reed. The four middle scores elongate only to the second wire.

Form the tube by using your pliers to squeeze the first wire open as you insert a forming mandrel. Make sure that you insert the mandrel straight! And be gradual in speed so the reed cracks only along your scoring lines. I place the mandrel on my sternum (middle chest) and use one hand for the pliers and the other to guide the back of the reed.

Once the reed is on the mandrel far enough take the pliers and scrunch the reed. From the first to second wire be careful to only scrunch in the oblong direction. From the second wire back to the end of the reed rotate the pliers to conform the reed to a round shape. Be forceful around where the third wire will be. I usually put on the third wire, loosely and high, as I’m scrunching to help the reed in place then I slide the wire down to the correct location and tighten it.

After the reed has been scrunched properly and is in the correct place put on the second wire one pliers with above the third wire (lower than final placement). The reason for the lower second wire placement is to encourage the reed to be the narrowest at the point where the bocal ends. Keep the newly formed tube on the mandrel for at least a week; tighten the wires and soak the reed multiple times during that week to stabilize the new shape.

Continue to wrapping the reed