The top question I get from Band Directors is "What reeds do you recommend?" So, here are the top 6 reed sources that my students enjoy right now, in no particular order, and with my commentary.
1. Bocal Majority, Intermediate reeds. These reeds come in different letters which correspond loosely with different hardnesses. Each letter is made by a different reedmaker, so students usually try at least 2 different letters before deciding to stick with one.
Can customize the reed by adding a little sticker for no or small additional fee. This makes it easy to tell the reeds apart.
Quickly manufactured, so often are not perfectly in tune.
Sometimes they go out of stock
2. Oboe Duck Reeds, student reed. These reeds are made by one reedmaker, who takes great care in tuning them well. I find they’re a good step-up from Bocal Majority reeds for students who want a more complex tone color, and more reliable tuning. They are intermediate level reeds for sure, I would not recommend them for students who have been playing for less than 2 years.
Reliably in tune
Dark, complex tone color
Carefully crafted by a detail-oriented maker
Frequently out of stock
Orders take 3-4 weeks to ship
Higher price point
Customizing thread color costs extra
3. Bennet Lopez, entry level reeds. These reeds are made by an oboist who lives in LA. They are good quality and nicely in tune, and are quite consistent from reed to reed.
Consistent hardness, in tune out of the box!
Orders tend to ship quickly.
Higher price point
4. Forrest Music, RSB reeds. These reeds are made by a Bay-Area oboist and freelancer. They’re good quality and nicely in tune. They are quite consistent from reed to reed.
Made in the Bay Area, so they don’t change much due to climate factors.
Reasonably priced for high quality reeds.
Reliably in tune and quite consistent from one batch to the next.
Often out of stock or on back order.
Orders may take 3-4 weeks to ship.
5. Forrest Music, Green label reeds. These reeds are made by different reedmakers, but can be good options for students who need a reed fast! Green label reeds are made on a profiler, but with more attention to detail than Jones, Emerald, or Marlin Lesher reeds, so most come in tune and able to play, perfect for a beginner!
Most reeds come in tune and able to play out of the box.
A percentage of these reeds will be flat out of the box.
Occasionally unavailable or on back-order.
There are some inconsistencies because the reeds are made on a profiler rather than fully hand scraped.
6. Singin’ Dog, oboe reed (classic). These reeds are made fairly quickly with a lot of cane taken out of the reed. They vibrate really well out of the box, and are great for beginners, and students who don’t practice very much.
Play right out of the box, mostly in tune.
Reeds are on the softer side of the hardness levels.
Reeds have less complex tone color for more advanced players, and it can be difficult to get great dynamic range.
That's the list! Congratulations if you got to the bottom of this very long list. I hope that it helps you guide your oboe students to reeds that work for them!