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How wet is too wet?

Bobby G

Senior Member
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4,992
Location
Wonderful Welwyn Garden City, Herts
How wet does your reed need to be before your horn will work to your satisfaction? In my case, pretty darn wet! Previously, I'd put the reed in my mouth for a minute or so, put it on the horn and spend a few minutes playing until the bottom and top notes were working properly - maybe 10 or 15 minutes.

On the advice of a top pro tenor heavyweight player who I just happened to be chatting to at his gig on Thursday (;}), the night before my own gig, he advised me to soak the reed before putting it on the horn, and also to just breathe through the horn at times when I wasn't actually blowing. So, I soaked the reeds for about 15 minutes, and they came out of the glass totally dripping, shook them off, put one on the tenor and hey presto! Instantly the horn worked beautifully from top to bottom, the lower notes coming out rich and fat with that satisfying 'graininess' and the high notes popping out with no trouble or squeaks - incidentally I knew beforehand that the horn was leak-free, so I knew it was just a matter of getting the reed good and wet.

I'm not using an expensive setup, a YTS23 with a Jumbo Java mpc and, on this occasion, a Rico Royal 2.5, but I was totally impressed with the difference a really wet reed made, which I think contributed to me feeling more confident about my playing.

So the question is this - is it possible for a reed to be too wet?
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
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8,363
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
In a word yes. Try leaving a scrap reed in a glass of water for a few hours. It will turn a darker color and when you try to play it, it will be very unresponsive---tubby is a word I like to use. My technique as I have mentioned before in another thread is to place the reed in my mouth a few seconds, long enough to moisten the top and bottom. Then I put it in a plastic Rico reed guard which I then put in my pocket. Next I assemble my sax and get my music out. When I am set up, I slide the reed out of the guard and put it on my mouthpiece and it is ready to play. The reed has absorbed the right amount of moisture and the tip is perfectly flat. I learned this technique when I played in a dance band and had to get 3 saxes and a clarinet set up right before the gig.
 

AlistairD

Member
Messages
165
So, I soaked the reeds for about 15 minutes, and they came out of the glass totally dripping, shook them off, put one on the tenor and hey presto! Instantly the horn worked beautifully from top to bottom, the lower notes coming out rich and fat with that satisfying 'graininess' and the high notes popping out with no trouble or squeaks

That's the technique I use as well. Generally put two reeds in a Daniel's reed holder in a glass of water for 10 mins or so before I practice. Get them out and off you go. Unfortunately, I still don't sound very good, but I find it much more successful than putting the reed in your mouth for a few minutes.

In terms of too wet, I've never tried leaving them in for more than about 15 mins so can't really answer that question.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Peeblesshire
I'm with Nick Wyver on this one

I leave my reeds permanently soaking in gin. It's possible there's a slight tubbiness for the first minute or two but I reckon the reed vibrates away any excess moisture at the tip until there's equilibrium

Whichever technique you use the reed tip ought to find a balance between moisture going in and moisture flicked off I'd have thought

As recorded elsewhere in this forum the spirits have the happy effect of preventing that black staining of reeds that happens with use
 

Bobby G

Senior Member
Messages
4,992
Location
Wonderful Welwyn Garden City, Herts
In a word yes. Try leaving a scrap reed in a glass of water for a few hours. It will turn a darker color and when you try to play it, it will be very unresponsive---tubby is a word I like to use.

Most of my reeds look like that anyway :)))

Seriously though, I wouldn't leave a reed soaking for hours, I am basically just trying to get them to the point they would naturally be at after 10-15 minutes playing, and a ten-minute soak definitely did the trick for me. I guess other people can get along with a much drier reed....
 

Bobby G

Senior Member
Messages
4,992
Location
Wonderful Welwyn Garden City, Herts
That's the technique I use as well. Generally put two reeds in a Daniel's reed holder in a glass of water for 10 mins or so before I practice. Get them out and off you go. Unfortunately, I still don't sound very good, but I find it much more successful than putting the reed in your mouth for a few minutes.

In terms of too wet, I've never tried leaving them in for more than about 15 mins so can't really answer that question.

So, is it better to put the reed in a reed-holder in the glass of water/vodka etc, or is it ok to just bung the reed in the drink unguarded?

Also, the aforementioned top pro heavyweight tenor player told me he used to soak his reeds in Coke because he liked the taste. I'd wonder about the effects of the fizz, also I'm not a fan of Coke. Could I soak them in black coffee, perhaps?
 
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