Reed Orders

About My Reeds

                                                      About My Reeds

Several years ago, I wrote a few articles/booklets describing what to expect with my reeds.  A lot of innovations have gone into the original traditions I had learned.  Most of my clients weren't interested in a reed-making course. They just wanted the reeds.


For hundreds of years, reed players have been making their own reeds.  My attempt was to get a reed made by me into the hands of a client with the same expertise, as if they had made it themselves.  There were hidden snags in that.  A client who doesn't own any adjusting tools might be overwhelmed by this.


In utter simplistic form, the main point (in helping clients acclimate to a reed) was to spell out various ways that a reed will gain (go sharp) as it gets played from day-to-day.  After a few weeks, a great reed can become squawky.  There were many solutions to this problem.  Responses from customers further demonstrated that they just wanted the reeds.  They wanted them to play well, and stay the same.  So, I put even more innovations into the process and came up with the design I'm now making.


The tubes on my reeds, which is to say, the roundish part with the wires and thread, are a two-part improvement.  1) They are encased and impregnated with more plastics than most other reeds.  This makes them infinitely more solid and durable.  The reeds also last longer.  The usual reason a reed wears out is because over time, the tube (and therefore the support) of the reed loses its integrity.  There is no longer as much arching in the back part of the reed, but impregnating the tube with plastics abolishes that as a problem.  Impregnating the tube with plastics also makes soft cane respond more closer to hard cane, at least insofar as the roundness of the throat, so the reeds play more alike from one to the next.


2) I have a set of reaming tools that go way up inside the throat of the reed.  I use about eight or nine separate tools to remove cane from inside the tube of the reed. This gives a greater airway for better tone.  Also, it makes the reed lighter and more vibrant.


These points (1 & 2) work together.  If I were to add a lot of plastic and not ream, the reeds would be too clumsy and dead.  If I were to do this amount of reaming without first stabilizing the tubes, the reeds would be too weak and fragile.  You can't do one without the other.  It has to be both.  Also, there is no possibility of the reed leaking.



                                           MEDIUM SOFT /  MEDIUM HARD


Most everybody who has bought a reed is familiar with the strength distinctions.  Professionals do not think in these terms.  When a person makes his/her own reeds, they're looking for the "sweet spot," the point where the reed comes into it's own.  Changing the reed at that point would be inviting disaster.  It would be tantamount to saying, "Please make it wimpy and flat,"  or "Please make it sharp and squawky."  Each piece of cane responds differently.  The sweet spot will feel different from one reed to the next.  One might then say we should turn soft cane into soft reeds and hard cane into hard reeds.  But then the hard reeds would sound better, squawk and be too hard to play.  The soft cane would be even more mushy.  Forget about any projection.  The reason why commercial companies get away with strength distinctions is because they are not a traditional product.  They appeal to band directors and clarinet players.


                                     THE MOST TRADITIONAL "TEST NOTE"


For centuries, it has been common knowledge that the worst note for stability is the E natural on the third space of the bass clef staff (first finger E).  My first teacher would make a reed and blast the E to see how loud he could get it without it distorting or going flat.  If the reed is way, way too weak, the E is in two separate places.  It doesn't merely sag, it reappears a half step lower.  And the Eb half a step lower is also a problem.  Because, when the E natural is totally stable, the Eb will likely be sharp.  So, other steps need to be taken to get the Eb to settle down to pitch.  First is to add the first finger of the right hand (B) along with the thumb Bb key on the right hand.


These points are reed making techniques.  I didn't learn them in bassoon lessons.  I learned them in reed making lessons.  So, to expect a bassoon student to understand them is impossible.  That's why bassoonists have traditionally made their own reeds to learn to control these factors.





I get the tube all solid and ream it good.  Then I take several days to work the reed in so that the changing process is well under way.  And I test/adjust the reed until it has a fairly solid E natural, but the Eb will settle by only adding the third finger on the right hand.  As the bassoonist then plays it from day-to-day, the E natural will become more and more stable.