How and why do I adjust bassoon reed wires? – Reed Tip #5

You mean they’re adjustable?
Grab your needlenose pliers!

You can’t mess this up! All changes can be reversed, unlike removing cane. Try small changes at first.


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


The reed’s wires control response, tone, and pitch.

In general, round wires = stiff reed, oval/flat wires = relaxed reed. Wires can be rounded to perfect circles or slightly oval and flattened to slight arches — try to not go too much further.
Both wires operate ‘opposingly’ to each other (squeezing side of 1st wire and top of 2nd wire do nearly the same thing, and vice versa).

Bassoon reeds feature three wires. One inside the Turk’s head wrapping (3rd/bottom wire), one above the wrapping (2nd wire), and one at the top of the tube just below the blades (1st wire).

A simple chart of effects:

1st wire

  • Round – open tip, flatter pitch, stiffer response, buzzier, louder
  • Oval/flat – closed tip, sharper pitch, easier response, mellow, quieter

2nd wire

  • Round – closed tip, sharper pitch, easier response, mellow, quieter
  • Oval/flat – open tip, flatter pitch, stiffer response, buzzier, louder

Round both wires equally- tip stays the same, sharper pitch, quieter, mellower, high notes easier

Flatten/oval both wires equally – tip stays the same, flatter pitch, louder, buzzier, low notes easier


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds