Excerpt from the oboe bboard…

August 1, 2009

A guy on the oboe bboard just bought an innoledy gouging machine and a Pfeiffer Mack shaper tip. He was seeking advice, and I gave my 2 cents.

Regarding the Innoledy, I’ve seen people say that they had a hard time getting it to vibrate enough, and I’ve heard of people saying that they consistently couldn’t get enough vibrations in it. I trust the people who said that they had a hard time getting the gouge to vibrate enough (namely because I know their reeds and scraping), so I’d lean toward that, but know that there are both camps. Even Mack, who swore he’d never use any gouging machine other than a graf machine began using the Innoledy toward the end of his life and said that it was an “okay” gouge, but he didn’t think it was anything to write home about.

I think the fact that your teacher likes both the Pfeiffer Mack and the Innoledy says something about what the teacher is trying to strive something. Sounds like a reed that is more covered, less vibrations (probably requiring more “hard blowing”) and stable in the upper register. My best suggestion is that if your teacher has found this combination to work, then strive to scrape a reed like your teacher, not like the Nielson reeds or any other reeds you’ve been buying off of someone.

Also be aware of the “Mack style of shaping”. He always shaped his cane with the fold actually folded OVER the ears, rather than in between the ears. Then he’d also tie the reed as short as possible (71mm to 70mm) and chop it open barely and scrape it to finish. This gave him a wider throat and fuller bottom to the sound.

Oboedrew and I disagree on the importance of the gouge, but my opinion is that the gouge is the single most important aspect of reedmaking. I’ve heard Mr. Weber, Mack, Joe Robinson, and many others say that a good gouge can cover bad quality cane, faulty scraping, and plenty of other faults in reedmaking. The staple is the extension of your oboe bore, and the gouge curvature is an extension of that. If you work on that Innoledy for a while, and notice that despite your best efforts, you find common faults in your reeds, the first thing to try is a different gouge (I find the best gouged cane sold is from Chudnow or Boston Double Reeds).

For all of my undergraduate years I worked on single radius gouging machines (RDG and Ross). Despite attempt after attempt, I could never get the flexibility I desired with the stability I needed, mainly because the sides were too thick and once I began scraping down the sides the reed became unstable. After many many years, I finally switched to a single radius gouge and the hypothetical “oboe reed heavens opened up and shed its sunshine upon thee.”

I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a single radius gouge. It seems like when the weather is just right, they work just fine, but 9 months out of the year the weather doesn’t coincide…. and I’m not sure what the “just right weather”  exactly is…


One Response to “Excerpt from the oboe bboard…”

  1. I also use Pfeiffer Mack and an Innoledy. I guess I feel like I get stability out of the combination, rather than a lack of vibrations, but my reeds are pretty atypical.

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