Choosing Tube Cane

The first step in making an oboe reed from scratch is to acquire some 10-11 mm tube cane – available online through most double reed accessory businesses.

Cane can range in quality from very hard and dense to soft and pithy.  Cane that is either too hard or too soft can be difficult to work with.  In general, very hard dense cane tends to produce sharp reeds that lack vibration and are bright and shallow in tone.  Cane that is too soft and stringy tends to produce short-lived flatish reeds with a dull tone lacking focus.  These reeds may also have response issues.   So …  choosing cane that is medium soft to medium hard is ideal.

Below, I’ve listed some “brands” of tube cane and their general quality.  Please know, cane is like wine – the quality varies from year to year.  For example – I’ve used Rigotti cane religiously for years and was surprised when my latest order came in as hard as steel.  I’ll probably order Rigotti again, but not for a year or so.

When trying a batch of cane for the first time, order no more than 1/4 lb since it cannot be returned if it proves unworkable.  Once you are assured that you can successfully make reeds from a 1/4 lb, I would suggest ordering a minimum of 2 lbs of the same batch.  You will be become very familiar with the characteristics of the batch and will be more likely to produce good reeds on a consistent basis.

Cane types:

Rigotti medium to medium hard
Alliaud hard
Danzi medium hard
Loree (Var) medium to medium hard
Glotin medium soft
Medir medium
Pisoni medium hard