Help Choosing Bassoon Reeds from Britannia Reeds

Britannia Reeds St Albans

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Bassoon Reeds

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We recommend you order at least 3 reeds so that you have spares.
Oxford Reed - a budget value reed for new beginners - easy-blowing.
Britannia Reed - Our most popular reed, pleasantly responsive with a warm and mellow tone. For beginners wanting a good sound.
Mini-Bassoon Reed - a smaller reed designed specially for the mini-bassoon.

Britannia Reed - Our most popular reed, suitable for many players. Pleasantly responsive with a warm and mellow tone.
Emperor Reed - a responsive reed with a mellow well-centred tone. The narrow shape helps with high notes and pitch stability, whilst giving a more focussed, slightly smaller tone.
Steinberg Reed - a popular reed with experienced players. The wide shape and dense blades give a rich dark tone and more substantial “body", yet with good resonance and response for such a heavyweight reed.

All our reeds (except the Oxford Reeds) are suitable for players of all standards up to professional level. We produce a wide range of designs and styles to accommodate the different individual needs of players. You can see all the bassoon reeds by clicking here. For further guidance and information please scroll down and continue reading or call us on the number at the top of this page.

If the style isn’t right for you, return them and try something else. See the reeds chart of the information below to help you decide. Alternatively, for further help, email us at or phone us on  the number at the top of this page.

Major Features of the reed

Lighter-weight or Heavier-weight: The lighter-weight reeds are free-blowing and create a clear resonant sound. The heavier-weight reeds give the player slightly more to blow against and have a darker sound.

Shape: Wider shapes give a broader sound and easier response for low notes. They play slightly flatter than narrower shapes. Narrower shapes give more focus to the sound and can help with very high notes.

Gouge: A thinner gouge creates a more responsive reed and a clearer, more resonant sound. A thick gouge dampens vibrations producing a darker sound and less responsiveness.

Standard or Long: The standard tube length is suitable for most instruments. Longer tube designs give a lower pitch in a similar manner to changing to a longer crook.

Tip Width and Reed Length: We do not publish these measurements because they are often used in a misleading way. It is true that the pitch of a reed is influenced by tip width and reed length, but also by many other dimensions such as blade shape and curvature, tip length, heart thickness, cane hardness, gouge thickness, throat aperture, tip aperture and tube length.

Some Examples

Playing flat - can't get up to pitch
The overall size of the reed is too big. It may be too long or too wide. First try a reed style with a narrower shape; find your reed style on the reeds chart and choose a style to the left of it. This may solve the problem for you and give you a suitable reed.
Sometimes using a narrower reed is not comfortable to the player as the “feel” and response can be different. If you are currently playing on any of the longer reed styles (Berlin, Konig, Bergmann, Steinberg Long, Muller Long, Blaukopf Long) you could try their shorter equivalent reeds - see the reeds chart.

Reeds close up - blades become flat
Most people assume that they need harder reeds but this is rarely true. The problem usually stems from poor breath support causing the player to have to pinch or bite the reed too firmly to make it speak. This problem will get worse if the player moves to harder reeds. Better to try some exercises to improve breath support and loosen the embouchure. See the Hint and Tips page on this website for more information.

Playing sharp
Playing sharp is more common in hot weather as the higher temperature raises the pitch the instrument plays at. Naturally, you would pull the crook out of the bassoon slightly to lower the pitch. If you are always a long way sharp you may need to change the reed style you use. Try a wider shape; find your reed style on the reeds chart and choose a style to the right of it.
Sometimes in moving to a wider shape players find the pitch stability becomes poor and the reed seems wild and uncontrollable. If this happens, try moving to a longer-tube style - find your usual reed on the reeds chart and the loner-tube version will be in the same box.
For example: A player plays on Britannia reeds but plays sharp, so they try the Salzburg reed which plays at a lower pitch. However, they find the wider Salzburg wild and unmanageable, playing sometimes sharp, sometimes flat. They therefore try the Konig reed, finding it feels like the Britannia but the longer tube makes it play at a lower pitch.

Wanting a darker tone
Generally, the thicker the cane on the reed, the more mellow (dark) the tone of the reed, but the tougher it is to blow.
If you are playing any of the lighter-weight reeds and want a darker tone, try changing to a heavier-weight reed. This will also be a tougher reed to blow so you may also decide to adjust it with the wires to slightly ease the response. If so, see the sections on adjustment in the Hint and Tips page.
If you are already playing on a heavier-weight reed style, see the Hint and Tips page for how to adjust the reed to give a darker tone.

Reeds aren’t responsive enough
If you are consistently having this problem with any reed style, it is best to try a more flexible reed. First find your current reed style in the reeds chart.
If your reed is a heavier-weight reed, try the lighter-weight equivalent above it.  This will give you a more free-blowing reed, and also a more resonant tone.
If you reed is a lighter-weight reed, you will need to adjust the wires to make the reed more responsive. See the section on this in the Hint and Tips page.

Help with Choosing Bassoon Reeds