The reed, along with the players airstream, is what makes the sound of the oboe. No two reeds are the same, which gives each oboist their own unique sound. An oboe reed is made from shaving down an actual cane reed. The two reeds are placed face-to-face and are strapped to the metal pipe with strings. The oboe is constructed such that there is a piece of cork wrapped around part of it, and the cork is inserted into the upper section of the instrument.
The two reeds are curved subtly, and so there is a slight gap in the center when the two ends are stuck together. This allows the player's breath to pass through. During play, the reeds undergo minute vibrations, the gap between the reeds repeatedly closing and opening.
Oboists, usually starting in college, make their own reeds. This is an extremely personal process, as the reed dictates what the instrument will sound like. The reed kit consists of: cane, the staple, reed knife, a mandrel, a wood cutting block, a plaque, thread spool, wax bar, and a ruler.
Next, we will take a look at your lips, and how to form the embouchure to play.