support Tutorials CDs PPT mouthpieces
  • All posts re: Fake (counterfeit) saxophones and scams are now in their own subforum here:

    Fakes and Scams

Reeds Reed preparation: trimming and bslancing

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,786
Locality
Sweden
If we are talking about reed rotation we should also cover reed preparation. So the following is my own thoughts and opinions and I don't say it's the right thing to do with reeds!! The instructions is translated from Swedish to English so I'm not sure I got the right expressions. So please don't judge me to hard!

The quality and playablity of reeds are better nowadays. The machines and the methods for reedmaking have made a big progress over the years. You don't find so many "really reeds" in box nowadays. When I look at unused reeds from the 20's, 30's ... to today the evenness and playablity of the reeds have become better and better through the years. So there is less need for prepare reeds nowadays. But you can "wake up a tired" reed by doing some "voodoo"! I used to rotate over two or four reeds because the reedgards I used hold two or four reeds. I don't do reed preparation anymore. I'm playing Rico Plasticcover. ;}



My teacher in the mid 70's gave me the following instructions. I'm sure you can find simular instructions in saxophone books... :

1. The reed is to soft and produce a "buzzy" sound: Use the reedtrimmer. Just small pieces between the testplaying.
2. The reed has less resonance and produce a dull sound when you play soft: Polish 1 and 2 with sandpaper.
3. The reed has less resonance in the low register: Polish 2 with sandpaper.
4. The tip of the reed is to thick after using the reedtrimmer: Gentle polish the 7+8, the backside of the reed, with a file or a whetstone.
5. If the reed is overall/general hard to play: Gentle polish 7+8, the backside of the reed, with a file or a whetstone.
6. Reed is squaking: Balance 2.
7. Hard to make a soft attack in the high register: Polish gentle 2+1 with sandpaper.
8. Powerless or week tone in the high register: Polish 3 with sandpaper.
9. The mid-register has less resonance: Polish 4 with sandpaper.
10. The low register is hard to play: Use a razorblade on 6.
11. The reed is still hard/heavy to blow: Polish and balance 6,5,4 3 with razorblade and sandpaper.


X is a important area of the reed and shall not be prepared/worked! If you look against a light the reed shall have a symmetric "V-shaped heart" in the middle of the reed.

You need: A small glas plate or plexiglass plate, file (plane), whetstone (plane), reedtrimmer, fine-grained sandpaper, and razorblades.

Keep the reed wet while you are working. Always work in the direction of the fibrer. Take it easy.! Just small adjustments. Try on a old reed before you prepare a new.

Thomas
 
Messages
3,261
I tried this at time's over the year's and could not be botherd to do it,still cant so i must be a lazy sod.I just soak mine for long lenth's and the one's that play i use and the many that dont just get hidden away,cost's me cash in the long run but the thought of sitting sanding,cutting reed's wont agree with me and a like an easy life.We got our own thing's and way's of getting going but for me life's to short and would rather be playing than sanding a reed.
 

Chris

Well Known
Café Supporter
Messages
3,744
Locality
Manchester,England
Ok, so being a person that doesn't mind courting a little controversy every now and again>:). I thought I would ask. Why? can't people just get a reed out the box and play it:confused:. OK, so you wet it a bit first then just play.:thumb: Before the missiles rain down let me explain my thinking. If you take a plasticover reed as an example you can't soak it and prepare it as so many would advise. It is still just a normal reed just coated.( I am not going to talk about synthetic reeds here as thats another topic). You can't sand them down, you can't press the fibers of the cane down with flat object, finger nail would be a good example I have heard people mention. Even though I have only been learning the sax for 10 months now( time does fly when you're having fun) I have yet to take a bad one out of the box:confused:. Is this a subject that only seasoned players have problems with as it does seem to be these that talk about it the most>:), or is just the fact that they have a more developed tone:mrcool and can notice subtle changes from reed to reed. Just for info I started out on rico royals 1.5 then jazz select 2s and now use rico royal 2.5's.. Sorry for the long post..

Chris
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,716
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
I hope you've got a tin hat >:);}>:)
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,177
Locality
ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
Ok, so being a person that doesn't mind courting a little controversy every now and again>:). I thought I would ask. Why? can't people just get a reed out the box and play it:confused:. OK, so you wet it a bit first then just play.:thumb: Before the missiles rain down let me explain my thinking. If you take a plasticover reed as an example you can't soak it and prepare it as so many would advise. It is still just a normal reed just coated.( I am not going to talk about synthetic reeds here as thats another topic). You can't sand them down, you can't press the fibers of the cane down with flat object, finger nail would be a good example I have heard people mention. Even though I have only been learning the sax for 10 months now( time does fly when you're having fun) I have yet to take a bad one out of the box:confused:. Is this a subject that only seasoned players have problems with as it does seem to be these that talk about it the most>:), or is just the fact that they have a more developed tone:mrcool and can notice subtle changes from reed to reed. Just for info I started out on rico royals 1.5 then jazz select 2s and now use rico royal 2.5's.. Sorry for the long post..

Chris

Hi chris,
The answer is to record yourself and decide, is this tone good enough, how hard am I working to produce the notes, does it sing and does it sound like the professional players I hear, or is it just notes played competently.
I believe that reeds, being a natural material, like people, are all different and that each reed should be matched to the mouthpiece being used. We all know that wider tip openings require a softer reed and vice versa, but if we accept that that is the only difference, then I think we are wrong! We need to remove material to try and get the same ease of blowing from each reed. Then we have a chance of consistant tone!

John.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,022
Locality
London
I love this topic!

If it plays ok for you great!
About myself:
If I practice every day for 4 hours on the same instrument (ie tenor) there is no way to find the right reed
If i am back from holiday and had a great time, any reed from the box will sound great (unless it's really wrong).

This phenomenon (quite common) still has to be scientifically explained.
 

Chris

Well Known
Café Supporter
Messages
3,744
Locality
Manchester,England
At least I don't need the tin hat yet:).. John, as a general rule I play the tenor maybe 3/4 hours every day.:thumb: The sax only gets put in its case to go for my lesson. The mouthpiece remains on the sax all the time unless it gets taken of to clean( I know I should take it off to let the cork recover) :w00t:The reed gets changed 8/10 times when I damage it it some way or it just won't play anymore.:) Your point is noted about getting the notes to ring like a Pro player , however do "Pro" players go to a lot of trouble to prepare reeds or are they just gifted enough to be able to play:mrcool, and the rest of us just hang on to there coatails as it were.
Also your theory doesn't explain plasticover reeds:confused::confused:, I know from reading your posts that you can indeed work on a synthetic reed. I don't think that there is a right and a wrong in this subject seems like most people will do what it takes to play:thumb:, also I only have about 10 months experience playing sax. My tone is always changing, I think getting better.:welldone So do only players with a consistent tone notice a variation??
It does seem to be a topic that courts a litle controversy though.

Nick and Justin, I did begin to question if it was just me.:confused::confused:
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,177
Locality
ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
Hi Chris,
I can't speak for the players of today, but a lot of the pro's - 40's/50's did prepare their reeds, and I'm pretty confident that it still happens. I wouldn't go as far as some authors, who advocate removing material from certain areas of the reed to produce different tones, but I do feel that each reed is different and should be adjusted/tuned to the mouthpiece being used.
Yes we can play reeds straight out of the box, but with a little work on them, life can become a lot easier.
In another thread I say to watch Tom Reidenour's ATG video No2 on youtube. There you will see and hear the effects of working on a reed.

John.
 

Chris

Well Known
Café Supporter
Messages
3,744
Locality
Manchester,England
Hi John, having watched Tom Reidenour's videos, I must say that it looks like he does indeed work on his reeds and make a noticeable difference to his tone:). His video does however throw up a couple of points.:confused: he doesn't use a lig on the clarinet( thats another touchy subject) also a quality player can achieve different sounds with ease:mrcool. eg here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oc0VzGBPxY:mrcool
I know we have all seen this before but it helps me out. One sax one player:sax:, one reed, every single tone you could ever want from a sax plus, some you might not. I am not calling into question the integrity of someone, but hey the guy is trying to sell something. At the end of the day if some thing helps anyone sound better then all well and good, I just don't feel it needs all the hype the topic gets. Some people will just never sound good it's just a fact of life.>:)

Chris
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,177
Locality
ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
Hi John, having watched Tom Reidenour's videos, I must say that it looks like he does indeed work on his reeds and make a noticeable difference to his tone:). His video does however throw up a couple of points.:confused: he doesn't use a lig on the clarinet( thats another touchy subject) also a quality player can achieve different sounds with ease:mrcool. eg here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oc0VzGBPxY:mrcool
I know we have all seen this before but it helps me out. One sax one player:sax:, one reed, every single tone you could ever want from a sax plus, some you might not. I am not calling into question the integrity of someone, but hey the guy is trying to sell something. At the end of the day if some thing helps anyone sound better then all well and good, I just don't feel it needs all the hype the topic gets. Some people will just never sound good it's just a fact of life.>:)

Chris

Chris, if you had watched the video to the end, you would have seen that he does use a lig.
A few of us on the forum have the ATG System and swear by it. Me included :thumb:
The guy in the video you quote, is reinforcing the fact that a relaxed embouchure is the way to go. That is the whole point of adjusting the reed to the mouthpiece. Try playing relaxed on a hard reed. You'll have to bite up to get a sound out of it!!

John
 

Chris

Well Known
Café Supporter
Messages
3,744
Locality
Manchester,England
Try playing relaxed on a hard reed. You'll have to bite up to get a sound out of it!!

John

I wouldn't, I would use a softer reed/smaller tip opening>:). Just find the combination that works.:welldone

As an after thought John, are you saying that using the ATG you could make the hard reed work??
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,177
Locality
ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
I wouldn't, I would use a softer reed/smaller tip opening>:). Just find the combination that works.:welldone

As an after thought John, are you saying that using the ATG you could make the hard reed work??

Chris, smaller tip openings require harder reeds, wide tip openings require softer reeds!!!!!!
Using the ATG System makes reeds that are hard to play, easier to play. It is only an easier way of balancing a reed without using a blade, sandpaper, or in my case an emery board. This means less air being pushed through the sax to produce a note, as demonstrated by Tom Ridenour in the video.

John
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Café Supporter
Messages
6,086
Locality
Minster On Sea
One shared by lots of top musicians ;}

Not disputing that. And I may well agree with it. But still only an opinion. There are plenty of superb musicians around with embouchures that would not be classed as 'relaxed'.
 

Big-Al

Member
Messages
32
Locality
West Yorks
Chris, smaller tip openings require harder reeds, wide tip openings require softer reeds!!!!!!
Using the ATG System makes reeds that are hard to play, easier to play. It is only an easier way of balancing a reed without using a blade, sandpaper, or in my case an emery board. This means less air being pushed through the sax to produce a note, as demonstrated by Tom Ridenour in the video.

John

I guess it is each to there own, but it would seem to make a lot more sense to buy the right strength reed from the start. Rather than buying a harder reed and making it soft.


Al,
 
Top Bottom