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Reed Trimming

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
Does anyone trim their reeds?

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated when I have to throw away a perfectly good reed simply because it has softened with playing. When the reed becomes too soft, my tone deteriorates and I start to get a hint of a squeak preceding some high notes, when I’m belting them out.

Last night I threw a perfectly good plasticover 2.5 in the bin after only one week, or less, of playing. Two minutes later, I fished it out and trimmed about 1mm off the end using a very sharp razor blade. To avoid losing the profile at the tip, I placed another reed against it, as a guide to follow while trimming. Well...what a fantastic result...it was like having a new reed...nice clear tone...no hint of a squeak...

Perhaps I’ll look into buying a reed trimmer. Does anybody else use one?

Martin
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
I have a trimmer and do use it occasionally. But after I trim a reed I usually only use them for practise at home as I find they never quite regain the resonance of a new reed. I have tried adjusting after trimming but still have never got back to as good as a new one. But I know that many people (not least Oboe players) who do it all the time with good results.
Steve
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
Does anyone trim their reeds?

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated when I have to throw away a perfectly good reed simply because it has softened with playing. When the reed becomes too soft, my tone deteriorates and I start to get a hint of a squeak preceding some high notes, when I’m belting them out.

Last night I threw a perfectly good plasticover 2.5 in the bin after only one week, or less, of playing. Two minutes later, I fished it out and trimmed about 1mm off the end using a very sharp razor blade. To avoid losing the profile at the tip, I placed another reed against it, as a guide to follow while trimming. Well...what a fantastic result...it was like having a new reed...nice clear tone...no hint of a squeak...

Perhaps I’ll look into buying a reed trimmer. Does anybody else use one?

Martin


But if you trimmed a "Plastcover" then you broke the plastic and will allow wet to the reed inside, and as its covered, it wont dry again... not very healthy.
I would say that if you are going to trim then stick to the natural reeds.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,575
Location
Lundy Island
Does anyone trim their reeds?
Trimming is a way to just squeeze that last bit of life. If it has gone too soft, chances are it hasn'r actually softened but has actually taken on an inherent curve, so trimming won't bring it back to its best.

So I don't bother with trimming
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
But if you trimmed a "Plastcover" then you broke the plastic and will allow wet to the reed inside, and as its covered, it wont dry again... not very healthy.
I would say that if you are going to trim then stick to the natural reeds.
Yes, that's true, trimming a plasticover does cut through the coating at the tip...but then I find that the coating will get damaged after playing one for a few weeks anyway...so I don't think it really makes any difference, as long as most of the moisture is kept out. Besides, water proof membranes are rarely 100% waterproof...some moisture will always pass through...I live on a boat and have plenty of examples of this.

Cheers,
Martin
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
Trimming is a way to just squeeze that last bit of life. If it has gone too soft, chances are it hasn'r actually softened but has actually taken on an inherent curve, so trimming won't bring it back to its best.

So I don't bother with trimming
I think the reed that I successfully trimmed was probably just too soft for me right from it's first day, so trimming it hardenned it up nicely. It was not a case of an old 'dead' reed being brought back to life.

Martin
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,575
Location
Lundy Island
Ah, OK fair enough.

But bare in mind that this is still not ideal as it would bring the heart of the reed closer to the tip, so upsetting the tradition shape. Having said that, if it improves the reed and works for you, go for it.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,045
Location
I live in Exmouth Devon.
instead of buying a reed trimmer (never used one BTW) why not use the money to buy a fibracell reed it'l cost around £12 for a tenor reed and last longer than 2 or even 3 boxes of reed.

try one - you wont be disappointed
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
Paul Deville's Universal Method for the Saxophone has two pages on making your own reeds. I suppose that if you really want to know what inconsistent reed quality is all about, this is a good a place to start as any.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,045
Location
I live in Exmouth Devon.
Steve, Hahn reeds are a synthetic reed but are made form Carbon Fibre I believe very much like the Harry Hartman reed. The fibracell reed it also syntheic but looks and feels like a reed.

BG also now make a syntetic reed which was on show at Frankfurt - I was lucky enough to have some samples brought back for me.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
The trick to trimming reeds is that you have to thin the tip a little afterward. The cutter bends the fibres at the end just a bit so the burr needs to be shaved off to get it to behave properly. Perfectly reasonable to do to new reeds that are a bit too soft, but reeds that have been played out have more problems that just a thicker tip won't really solve.

I've got a day or two more use out of well-used reeds by soaking them in hydrogen peroxide for a few hours then drying them in the past FWIW. Might be worth a try.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,296
Location
leicester
Has anyone successfully "hardened" a Kevlar reed? I've got a "spare" 3.5 alto Fibracell I want to adjust. After may failures with cane reeds, I'd like to do better with these spendy Kevlar wigits.
I've never trimmed a synthetic reed to make it harder, just carefully trimmed the tatty bits off the end of carbon fibre reeds and a Fibracell... taking too much off can affect how much playing surface you have and messes up the playability, so I've only trimmed a fraction of a millimetre...
I've been trying to revive a Bari plastic reed that I broke the tip off after 2 years of heavy blowing, but it requires a great deal of filing to get it playable due to it being nearly a millimetre shorter.
I've never tried sanding or filing carbon fibre or Fibracell reeds - Fibracell "recommend that you do not sand the reed or clip the reed tip" but don't say why
 

Devon

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Klamath Falls, OR, United States
I've never trimmed a synthetic reed to make it harder, just carefully trimmed the tatty bits off the end of carbon fibre reeds and a Fibracell... taking too much off can affect how much playing surface you have and messes up the playability, so I've only trimmed a fraction of a millimetre...
I've been trying to revive a Bari plastic reed that I broke the tip off after 2 years of heavy blowing, but it requires a great deal of filing to get it playable due to it being nearly a millimetre shorter.
I've never tried sanding or filing carbon fibre or Fibracell reeds - Fibracell "recommend that you do not sand the reed or clip the reed tip" but don't say why
I'm going to give it a whirl. I have a Ridenour reed system (the Ridenour people say it works on synthetic) so perhaps the tip issues will not be severe. I'm wondering if the warnings have to do with the "undercoating" on Fibracell. I've read that one shouldn't mess with it.

One way to find out.....

What did you use to trim the reed initially?

Thanks!
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,296
Location
leicester
I'm going to give it a whirl. I have a Ridenour reed system (the Ridenour people say it works on synthetic) so perhaps the tip issues will not be severe. I'm wondering if the warnings have to do with the "undercoating" on Fibracell. I've read that one shouldn't mess with it.

One way to find out.....

What did you use to trim the reed initially?

Thanks!
I used a pair of scissors - I clamped the reed to an old cheap mouthpiece leaving just enough overhang on the tip and carefully timmed it using the tip of the mouthpiece as a guide - primitive, but it worked well enough to trim out a small chip in the tip of the reed

The layer of clear protective film on the flat side of Fibracells will often bubble and start to peel - I've removed it all together with no problems.
If you decide to sand a fibre based synthetic reed be careful about inhaling the dust and clean it thoroughly afterwards - the dust from some of these materials is not good for your lungs
 

Devon

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Klamath Falls, OR, United States
I used a pair of scissors - I clamped the reed to an old cheap mouthpiece leaving just enough overhang on the tip and carefully timmed it using the tip of the mouthpiece as a guide - primitive, but it worked well enough to trim out a small chip in the tip of the reed

The layer of clear protective film on the flat side of Fibracells will often bubble and start to peel - I've removed it all together with no problems.
If you decide to sand a fibre based synthetic reed be careful about inhaling the dust and clean it thoroughly afterwards - the dust from some of these materials is not good for your lungs
Thank you VERY much!
 
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