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Reed recovery techniques?

DavidUK

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When your reeds become discoloured and poor players and you've chucked them in the "is it really dead or shall I give it another go one day" drawer/box, do you eventually chuck them or do you "restore" them in bulk to their former glory?

I've heard of Steradent being used, but what other methods have been tried, do they work, or are they all a waste of time?

The plan, I guess, is to:
a) remove the staining and whatever contaminents lie therein,
b) remove any bacteria,
c) restore the wood fibres to their former unused state,
d) make it play as if it were new,

What do you do to yours to prolong their life?

:confused2:
 

Nick Wyver

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a) difficult
b) possible
c) impossible
d) impossible

Bin them.
 

MontyMac

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Houston, Texas
When your reeds become discoloured and poor players and you've chucked them in the "is it really dead or shall I give it another go one day" drawer/box, do you eventually chuck them or do you "restore" them in bulk to their former glory?

I've heard of Steradent being used, but what other methods have been tried, do they work, or are they all a waste of time?

The plan, I guess, is to:
a) remove the staining and whatever contaminents lie therein,
b) remove any bacteria,
c) restore the wood fibres to their former unused state,
d) make it play as if it were new,

What do you do to yours to prolong their life?

:confused2:
I've never tried steradent.
a) I usually prefer to soak them in a Kentucky Bourbon or a Single Malt Scotch........ well, before I put them in the reed holder
b) If the single malt doesn't work you're far too worried about bacteria.;)
c) If you're referring to natural bamboo reeds can't be done. Between vibration, digestive enzymes and the bourbon there's no resurrection.
d) hmmm, see c)
 

milandro

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I understand the desire of prolonging the useful life of what is increasingly become an expensive commodity but I am afraid that any rejuvenating technique, and this applies to reeds as much as it applies to people, cannot bring back what is gone forever.

It is certainly not impossible to bleach back a reed darkened by fungal (or mostly yeasts really) growth, but that is nothing but a form of window dressing and won’t change the hard and mechanical fact that the reed (or the tissues in case of human rejuvenation) has lost its souplesse, the elasticity that makes it vibrate with the energy it needs to produce the sound that we want..

Even clipping the reed is nothing but a very short term solution.

Incidentally, MontyMac, reeds are made of European or Asian cane known as Arundo Donax (even if growing in other countries) not of bamboo.

Despite their similarities of these two types of grasses and their being distant relatives, Arundo Donax is much more elastic than Bamboo.


Bamboo has been tested against cane and cane was found to be superior to bamboo.

http://www.acoustics.asn.au/conference_proceedings/ICA2010/cdrom-ICA2010/papers/p446.pdf
 

Targa

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For the little they cost why waste the time and effort, if you have had the use out of them throw them away.
 

milandro

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well, I don’t know about little, they are 3€ each and above. I know of people going through a box a week.

I am, a lot more thrifty but still, in a year it all adds up to a nice sum of money.

It is a good thing to try not to waste anything but, in certain cases, some things cannot be used forever and it is useless to mourn these losses.
 

milandro

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do you really need another pastime next to your saxophone playing? :headscratch:
 

PaulM

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I know of people going through a box a week.

Good grief! Even if we assume they practice every waking hour, what on earth are they doing to their reeds to render them unplayable after such a short time?
 

milandro

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Good grief! Even if we assume they practice every waking hour, what on earth are they doing to their reeds to render them unplayable after such a short time?

My friend and somewhat teacher Arthur says he changes a reed every 3-4 hours of playing. He has a very powerful sound and embouchure, playing on a not very open mouthpiece and with rather thick reeds.

I can easily play 2 weeks on a reed but use very light reeds (2) with an open mouthpiece (127 or 7*) and my playing is no way as powerful or as good as his
 

jazzdoh

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Or you could try
e) buy a synthetic reed that suits you and not have to worry about a,b,c,d for months and months.
 

PaulM

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My friend and somewhat teacher Arthur says he changes a reed every 3-4 hours of playing. He has a very powerful sound and embouchure, playing on a not very open mouthpiece and with rather thick reeds. I can easily play 2 weeks on a reed but use very light reeds (2) with an open mouthpiece (127 or 7*) and my playing is no way as powerful or as good as his

Despite the lack of power I'd choose your playing style, if only on financial grounds Milandro.
I am reminded of a quote from an interview with Daniel Deffayet, he probably knew a thing or two about playing the saxophone. He said "I must say I'm not a big user of reeds and I don't use more than fifteen reeds a year. If a reed is a bit weak, I cut it; if it is a bit strong, I sand it. I see some of my pupils who go every week to Vandoren's and I ask myself "What on earth do they do to wear out so many reeds?"

I will admit to purchasing more reeds in a year than M. Deffayet, but I live in hope.
 
Last edited:

MontyMac

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Incidentally, MontyMac, reeds are made of European or Asian cane known as Arundo Donax (even if growing in other countries) not of bamboo.

Despite their similarities of these two types of grasses and their being distant relatives, Arundo Donax is much more elastic than Bamboo.


Bamboo has been tested against cane and cane was found to be superior to bamboo.

http://www.acoustics.asn.au/conference_proceedings/ICA2010/cdrom-ICA2010/papers/p446.pdf
Egads! I, again, happily difer to Meneer Milandro's vast pool of knowledge and continue to delight in his sharing.

And as to burning through a box in a week; :eek:
I feel, well, somewhat unclean.
Why? Even in High School I would, at best only need three reeds a year. In fact, I would count on the second one from marching season (usually a 3 1/2) starting to soften by concert season. It was an economical way to be able to play ppp enough to not overpower the Bassoons sitting in front of me.(I played enough of their cue notes already:rolleyes:) Of course I would soak in mouthwash, trim and sand if any little chips occured, and would occaisionally even sand a light concave on the flat side to get a deeper tone. Mind you, all this WAY BEFORE the internet!

OH! And Never sand a Rico Coated reed (the black ones) then sit next to an Elementary School Music teacher. For some reason it gives them a bad case of the Heebies and makes them want to rip it off your mouthpiece and throw it away!:rofl:
 

Colin the Bear

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If it were possible to ressurect reeds, there would be very few vendors of new reeds. I use maybe two boxes (5) Bari reeds a year and maybe the same on tenor. I've been through 3 alto reeds in a session. They seem to vary greatly. Some last ages and some no time at all. If I get a good batch I re order from the same place. It never works. The worst I've had is the vandoren red packet. I ordered 2 to try and they lasted about an hour each. Beautiful from new but they changed to chewing gum and wouldn't even play in tune.

I clip and scrape to get reeds in the zone, but when they're done they're just second rate, hard work and poor sounding.
 

milandro

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Cheers Monty, :thumb:, in a past life :old: I did study agricultural science prior to my turning to study languages and other even less concrete or useful things, so I still have distant memories of those days.


Having said this being thrifty with reeds and use them to their fullest potential is a good habit. I do some sanding but I don’t have too much patience with clipping.:confused2:
 

MandyH

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I am slightly concerned about (a) - staining....really....do reeds stain? I must have a very clean mouth?
Seriously.....do reeds stain? :eek: What's going on there, then? In my 5 years of playing, I have never stained a reed.

Once mine are too soft to play, I snap them and throw them away.
I usually have 2 or 3 reeds on the go at the same time and cycle through them each time I play, replacing one maybe every 2-3 months, depending on how much I am playing at the time. Alto reeds get replaced maybe every month (just one of the 3 I have on the go at a time) Tenor and Bari reeds maybe after 2 or 3 months. The sop isn't played enough to justify changing the reeds!!! ;)
 

milandro

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well, you can’t tell me that a used reed of yours has the same colour as a new one! If that is the case that your mouth has some interesting capabilities to kill the flora of bacteria, yeasts and fungi normally present in anyone’s oral cavity.
 

MandyH

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image.jpg Hmmm, let me see - 4 month old alto reed on left (bottom) , brand new straight out of the box reed on the right (top) ....what do you think?
 

Jeanette

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Once mine are too soft to play, I snap them and throw them away.
;)

Not that it matters but if they are going in the bin why snap them:confused:

Not sure that I would say mine had stained, though I am sure you are right Milandro in that they might change colour but since they can all look different I'm not sure I'd notice :)

Jx
 

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