Reed Between the Lines: The Reed Market in 2018

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • November 2018
  • Survey
• Created: November 5, 2018

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With 67 percent of participants in this month’s survey reporting that sales of reeds are either up or level when compared to this same time of year in 2017, it appears that this is a fairly robust market segment.

However, as is the case with many smaller items, such as MI accessories, many simultaneously observe that they’re seeing an increase in online purchases of reeds. “It seems that more customers are buying on Amazon,” notes Amy Goodden of Mukwonago, Wisconsin’s The Music Cafe. “Free shipping, less hassle, and often pricing is less than what I can afford to offer in the store.”

While there are any number of smaller and “boutique” brands out there, when discussing reeds, there a few names that are clearly the industry leaders – and none bigger than Vandoren.

With nearly 87 percent of those responding to this poll citing Vandoren as one of the best-selling reed brands for their store, it’s a dominant showing. Vandoren’s reputation and longevity make it a favorite – particularly for older players and other traditionalists, such as band directors and other music instructors. As Bonnie Dowdy of Music World in Lufkin, Texas noted: “Several of our area schools have asked us to carry [reeds], so the band directors didn’t have to worry with money and inventory. They have all indicated: Vandoren reeds, only.” Chick Music’s (Athens, Georgia) Steve Shepherd has observed a similar trend, claiming that, “More directors are telling their students to use Vandoren reeds.”

However, two other companies, in particular, are knocking at the door. Shuffield Music Company’s (Arkadelphia Music Company, Arkadelphia, Arkansas) Paul Shuffield says that, “Consumers are requesting different brands than they have historically. We normally will sell Vandoren reeds five-to-one over other brands, but Rico is slowly reducing the gap.”

In addition to Rico appealing to many, another brand is making major inroads of late. “I’m selling more D’Addario reserve reeds than Vandoren,” says Ray Noguera of Laconia Music Center in New Hyde Park, New York. “Once customers try them, most switch.” Chris Teesdale of Lexington, Kentucky’s Willis Music Company agrees that D’Addario’s presence in the market is on the rise: “The quality of the reeds manufactured by D’Addario Woodwinds has improved over the past five years and they are getting the word out to reed players & band directors This has ensured an increase in sales!”

Have you been noticing any trends when it comes to instrument reeds – either on the supplier or consumer side?

“Glad to see MAP prices being enforced, but why must we look like an industry of massive discounts when reeds MAP at less than 50 percent off retail? Why not lower retail or raise MAP?”

Clint Diffie

Boogie Music

Phoenix, Arizona


“Synthetic reeds are still a tough sell because of the price point, but we consistently offer the FAB of the product in our presentation. We also discuss the virtues of, and suggest the purchase of a reed guard, if the customer does not own one. We have always offered a discount on a full box purchase, or a ‘Buy 10, get 2 free’ on Nova pack product in an attempt to bolster the sale.”

Jerry Vesely

Vesely Music

Parowan, Utah


“Juno is really taking off in our market. Directors like the fact that it’s a Vandoren product and parents like the price point.”

Jeff Young

Marshall Music Company

Lansing, Michigan


“In our area, the band directors are being less flexible as to brands and requiring students to purchase certain brands.”

Dan Patterson

Roger’s Music

Fort Payne, Alabama


“We are selling more synthetic oboe and bassoon reeds.”

Gregg Chartier

Chartier LLC

Albuquerque, New Mexico


“As prices continue to rise on boxes of reeds the 3-pack reed option has helped ease sticker shock for the consumer.”

Allan Jankowski

Marshall Music

Traverse City, Michigan


“Everyone complains about the prices, and we sell them under list price. People are looking for the best deal around, simply because they don’t really understand. Our best transactions occur if there is a discussion about the reeds themselves, and how to increase their longevity. When they don’t know what to get, we can ask the children and parents some quick questions to help them make the right decision, based on our teaching expertise.”

Karen Janiszewski

Music Room

Cheektowaga, New York


“Reeds production continues to improve each year and the use of more technology has improved the sizing and consistency.”

Mike Guillot

Mississippi Music, Inc.

Flowood, Mississippi


“More consumer interest in buying smaller quantities: 3-packs versus 10-packs, buying individual reeds, sampler packs, et cetera.”

Eric Downs

PM Music Center

Aurora, Illinois


“10-packs are selling more this year.”

Mark Johnson

Welch Music Co.

Twinfalls, Idaho


“Although we don’t move a lot of reeds (primarily as most of our area band programs are fairly small), the trend appears to be more towards a premium brand. Even first year students.”

Bob Leichner

Dixie Music Center

Old Town, Florida


“The quality of traditional cane reeds has gotten better over the last several years, and our customers have become more discerning shoppers as well. Interestingly, the popularity of synthetic reeds has skyrocketed over the last few years as well. The overall trend is toward higher quality products, as opposed to inexpensive options.”

Steve Gibson

Absolute Music

Reno, Nevada


“We sell mostly whatever the local school band directors recommend. We sell primarily to 4th-12th grade students, so as long as our prices are competitive on the middle of the road reeds and accessories, and parents feel good about shopping local, then we get the sale.”

Paul Rodriguez

Suburban Music

Wheaton, Illinois


“Today, for convenience, consumers are purchasing reeds more and more online.”

Tony Leonard

Playground Music Center

Fort Walton Beach, Florida


“The majority of our reed sales are at the student level (middle school and high school) with the lion’s share of sales tilting towards Rico and the My Masterpiece Reeds from Tennessee… Nice reeds, made in the USA, and the 5-pack is affordable for even the economically challenged students.. We also stock Vandoren and Mitchell Lurie reeds – it seems the more advanced players prefer these. Sales are definitely up, overall.”

Tim Bascom

Morgan Music

Lebanon, Missouri

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