All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Reeds The frustrating nature of the cane…

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093


This reed started so-so but after a few sessions it came to life and has gradually become a great reed. But then it started needing careful positioning on the mouthpiece before it sounded its best, and today I just couldn’t get it to seat properly for a clean tone. I’ve tried to photograph it so that you can see how the unsupported section of reed has swelled.

My usual techniques when this happened is the rub it vigorously up and down on a bit of plain paper, this acts like a very fine sandpaper that reduces the deformation, and usually the reed is back to its former glory.

This time it needs a little more work, if you look at this photo:



The razor blade is positioned in the area that should be flat on the table of the mouthpiece, and as you can see there is more light on either side than in the middle indicating a gap either side. I think I’m just not getting a good seal at the sides and as a result the reed just isn’t as good as it was.

Normally I either abandon the reed and reckon it’s had a good life, or I do a bit of halfhearted scraping with a razor blade and maybe make it worse or maybe extend the reeds life a little – it seems somewhat hit and miss.

What do you do, and if you are a reed fettler do you do it from the very beginning, or do you wait until you notice the performance noticeably drops?

With the cost or reeds as they are, I’m becoming keen to extend the life of good reeds and hopefully improve those that don’t play as well.

All the best.

Chris
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
I've never seen a reed do this. Do you leave it on the mouthpiece between playing sessions?
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932


What do you do, and if you are a reed fettler do you do it from the very beginning, or do you wait until you notice the performance noticeably drops?

Chris[/QUOTE]
What do I do?
I get frustrated too....

But thankfully this doesn't happen too often to me. Your scraping concept is the next step for me to.
I have found though when a reed is prone to do this I can only delay its natural tendency. Also it then seems a few others from the same box do a similar thing. In Larry Teals Art Of Saxophone Playing book [I]I think[/I] it mentions making sure this area is smooth to start with on the basis that this somehow reduces the ability to absorb moisture in this area.
On the other hand, it's 4.30 a.m. and could just be my half asleep dreamy state!!!! :w00t:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Cue reed adjusters to preach yet again to the unvonverted, unconvinced unbelievers!

Mine do it. I think the window shape comes from having to overtighten the lig to compensate for the convex base on the reed. But by the time the window cut out is showing, they don't play well any more. And the tip is getting ragged. Eventually I chuck them out. But playing reeds like this seems to improve your embouchure...

The convexity is common, but a lot of people don't realise it's happening. Ray Reed's book has lots of answers. I keep threatening to start doing what he says, but still haven't got around to it - always something else to do.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Saxopho...1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1339819448&sr=8-3-fkmr0
 

davidk

Paints With Notes
Messages
354
I've had this happen to me. A quick rub of the reed over the Vandoren glass reed resurfacer sorts it out nicely.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
This is typical. Rubbing it on paper isn't abrasive enough, you need to scrape it, then seal it by rubbing it on paper. A proper reed knife makes a better scraper than a razor blade, wet the reed and scrape the swollen area until it's flat again. We're talking about completely standard reed maintenance here.

This will happen less if you have 4 or 5 playable reeds and rotate through them rather than playing one until exhaustion. Also if you prepare the reeds better. Soak a new reed reed, play it for a few minutes, put it aside. Do the same thing tomorrow. Day after that, rub paper on the back and the top until it's shiny then put it into rotation.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
Messages
8,890
I've never had a reed either swell or curve like that.
All I've ever done to keep a reed in good condition is when it is wet slide it with a bit of pressure on a piece of glass, or use the mirror if I'm too lazy to get the glass out. Then keep it in a Rico plastic holder.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,281
Years ago when i played cane this used to happen to me occasionally and i used to deal with it with the same way David does three posts up.

Brian
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
I've never seen a reed do this. Do you leave it on the mouthpiece between playing sessions?
Hi Martin, the reed comes off after every practice session, although on the odd occasion I forget after a lesson. When you say you've never seen a reed do this are you talking about the mouthpiece window imprint or the convex distortion.

Hi Kev, the reed adjusters didn't preach - I was wondering what people thought about the 'ReedGeek' >:) The scary thing is I'm not sure that's in jest anymore!

I think you are right about the over tight ligature compensating for the distortion, I need to watch that - I've also developed this nervous 'fiddle' with the reed/ligature, as a way to explain the catastrophe of that last passage I totally ballsed up on! Thanks for the heads up on the book, I was slightly taken aback that anyone could write 240 pages on single reed adjustment!

Hi David, I've not got the Vandoren reed glass thing, is it a piece of ground glass giving you a flat yet finely abrasive surface?

Hi Morgan, thanks for your reply, I've thought about a reed knife, but as I'm learning from sharpening chisels and plane irons, keeping things sharp, flat and square is an art form in itself... is there a reed knife you would recommend?

I used to do the rotation and preping you advise, but I sort of fell out of doing it - which is maybe why I'm having issues now, I'll reinstate it.

What do I do?
I get frustrated too....

But thankfully this doesn't happen too often to me. Your scraping concept is the next step for me to.
I have found though when a reed is prone to do this I can only delay its natural tendency. Also it then seems a few others from the same box do a similar thing. In Larry Teals Art Of Saxophone Playing book I think it mentions making sure this area is smooth to start with on the basis that this somehow reduces the ability to absorb moisture in this area.
On the other hand, it's 4.30 a.m. and could just be my half asleep dreamy state!!!! :w00t:
It sounds like a perfectly sensible time to be contemplating that unique qualities of Arundo Donax - heck, that's what I'd be doing if I wasn't asleep! I've not looked in Larry Teals book for a while, I'll dig it out.

Thanks everyone, I'll mull over this some more, all the best,

Chris
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Hi Martin, the reed comes off after every practice session, although on the odd occasion I forget after a lesson. When you say you've never seen a reed do this are you talking about the mouthpiece window imprint or the convex distortion.
I meant the window imprint. But from what others have said it sounds like it's not so uncommon after all. My experience is mainly based on 20 years of clarinet playing as opposed to 2 on sax. But maybe I just got lucky with my clarinet mouthpieces too.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
I too have never seen a window imprint like that on any of my old reeds but I have to say I don't use vandoren at all so maybe it's perculiar to their reeds, nor have I noticed a curving of the base but maybe I haven't looked hard enough,my reed routine involves hunting and hunting to find a read I feel comfortable playing then putting it on a mpc and leaving it there until I have beaten the living daylights out of it and then start the hunt again,my reed of choice at the moment is RICO jazz select 3s and 3m,I have never been able to find 4 or 5 usable reeds at one time be able to rotate them (OH HOW I LONG TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS)maybe I should spend longer with a not so good reed playing it in I don't know,I should say that I do remove it every so often and give it a clean along with the mpc under a running tap.

After reading this post I have decided to experiment a bit more with scraping reeds that are almost right with a set of craft knives that I have to see if I can bring them up to scratch pardon the pun,I would wonder if when you take the reed off and let it dry out fully does the swelling go down or is it permanent after this,I would have thought that placing a peice of very fine wet and dry on a sheet of glass or similar flat surface and gently rubbing the reed on it would solve the problem taking out the swelling and correcting the curvature,on the down side it maybe that when a reed reaches this state it has just become too porus and is no longer a viable reed.As far as trying gizmos if they're cheap enough why the hell not give them a go......John
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
The idea with the swelling under the reed, is to sand/scrape while the reed is wet, so it's flat when you play.
 

davidk

Paints With Notes
Messages
354
...
Hi David, I've not got the Vandoren reed glass thing, is it a piece of ground glass giving you a flat yet finely abrasive surface?
...
Hi Chris

Yes, this is exactly what it is. It's labelled as a "Reed Resurfacer" in their catalogue:

http://www.vandoren.fr/PDF accesoires/Accessoires en.pdf

Available here, amongst other places:

http://www.dawkes.co.uk/accessories/vandoren+reed+resurfacer+and+reed+stick+-arc261.html

Regards

David
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Saxholder Pro

Staff online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom