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I used to adjust reeds but not so much these days. I keep a rotation of 10 reeds on both Clarinet and Saxophone. As reeds get soft, I add new ones to the rotation.

I try to play the reed even if it's not great. Any reed that plays particularly well goes into the gig pile.
 

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I work on every reed. Ridenour Reed system . (my name has an H no relation) Its made for band directors so you need no patience or knowledge. Can make most reeds work. See it on you tube K
 

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I have my trusty reed knife and work on reeds gently when necessary. Realistically, I don't do anything major, maybe flatten the back and, if it's a particularly awful reed, attempt "real" work. I'm not in a financial place to ruin reeds at the rate I need to learn, but I'll work on old/bad reeds for fun/amusement.

Generally speaking, no. Casually speaking, sometimes.
 

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I used to adjust reeds but not so much these days. I keep a rotation of 10 reeds on both Clarinet and Saxophone. As reeds get soft, I add new ones to the rotation.

I try to play the reed even if it's not great. Any reed that plays particularly well goes into the gig pile.
I adjust pretty much every one. Just use a small Swiss army knife - I keep one in each case. I also use a reed trimmer - keep one in each case - Cordier L'Uniq is the only one I use.

Because I mostly play baritone, the large size of reeds means pretty much every one warps so the back becomes convex and requires flattening. (I have been told that this doesn't happen; BS; I can see it.) You can try to sand them flat, but you have to be awful careful to sand the warped part enough to correct 0.5 mm or more of warpage and not sand the tip till it goes away (I have been told that I am incompetent because I don't want to futz around with sanding..) but if you just use the knife you can remove material where it needs it and avoid removing material where it doesn't need it.

If you make the back of the reed flat, you can avoid having to go through all the ligature voodoo, use the el cheapo Rovners or two-screw ones. I also think it will give you a much higher yield (there are people on this forum who claim to play a reed a few minutes, then toss it if it isn't good, and to do that to 90+ % of their reeds. Personally, even with a pretty good salary, the time spent to earn the money to replace all those reeds would be more economically spent just tweaking them a bit with the trusty knife.)
 

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It's not just that I'm cheap (That I am, and reeds ain't!), but I find very few reeds that can't be made into players with a little work, after sealing the pores and breaking in.
Learning how to troubleshoot playability issues and work the vamp after break-in took time and a few proper tools, including a good knife and a big box of Dutch Rush that I harvested.
After doing that and giving a reed some playing time and a good wetting, I level the table (not out toward the heart and the tip!) with 600 grit paper and then polish it until it's shiny using good quality printer paper. This prevents most of the problems that plague reeds as the temperature and humidity change.
 

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As little as possible. Over the yrs, I've learned (painstakingly) that no matter what kind of voodoo/mojo/seance is used, if a reed is utterly craptacular out of the box, little to nothing will make it one I bother to put in the rotation. I rotate 4 reeds in my home brew "reed juvenate" system. Occasionally, I'll use a reed knife to even out the back if it's obviously not as flat as it should/can be and a clipper to give me more resistance if desired, but other than that.....nope. Not to sidetrack things here, but since I started to do the home brew reed juvenate thing, my reeds last 4-6 MONTHS and I play quite a bit. It's an amazing and simple system.
 

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I use on occasion, Vandoren reed resurfacer to flatten things out. Also have used Reed Geek as well in the past but I have better results with my limited skills with the VD resurfacer.
 

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Not to sidetrack things here, but since I started to do the home brew reed juvenate thing, my reeds last 4-6 MONTHS and I play quite a bit. It's an amazing and simple system.
I've found that an overnight hydrogen peroxide soak restores playability to older reeds quite nicely. What is the "brew" used in the reed juvenate system?
 

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This is a whole body of knowledge and learning I know nothing about. I’m always rather impressed with what everyone does to get cane reeds to work properly and consistently.
 

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Reeds sometimes do need work. However, if you have a well made mouthpiece and dont fall into the macho heavy reed trap very few reeds will be duds. I know a lot of players convinced they need heavy setups to sound good. Then the blame game starts.
 

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Constantly. I polish the backs to see if they've swelled or warped excessively. If they have(they almost always have) I sand the backs on 600 grit on a tempered glass from a Ralph Morgan reface kit. I don't adjust the reeds until I've played them awhile or soaked & flattened them on the glass first.
 

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Reeds sometimes do need work. However, if you have a well made mouthpiece and dont fall into the macho heavy reed trap very few reeds will be duds. I know a lot of players convinced they need heavy setups to sound good. Then the blame game starts.
What he said!
 

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I do very little reed work anymore, aside from making sure that the back of the reed seals on the table of the mouthpiece. Some swell and need to be flattened out after a bit of playing. The added resistance of a leaking reed drives me nuts.
 

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This is a whole body of knowledge and learning I know nothing about. I’m always rather impressed with what everyone does to get cane reeds to work properly and consistently.
It's not rocket science, but it is a sort of fine art that needs practice.

After the flattening/polishing (what chknbon said), if any further issues exist, they involve symmetric resistance side-to-side (assuming the facing is good, which is more the exception than the rule) in the various parts of the reed that vibrate (the vamp).

Visual examination (hold reed up to light) might give some rough indication of where material needs to be removed, but cane being an organic material, I usually jump right into a combination of play testing and "finger testing" for troubleshooting.

Play testing: I turn the mouthpiece clockwise and then CCW in my mouth (to "choke off" the right then left sides of the reed). I blow sforzandos in various parts of the range. I do soft and loud attacks through the range of the horn. I blow fifths/fourths intervals, from bottom to top of the horn's range. I make note of where the reed blows hard or sounds stuffy on one side vs. the other, e.g. "harder/stuffier left side, mid-range", "low note response heavy, right side"...

"Finger testing": I hold the reed, vamp up, in my left hand and use my calibrated right forefinger to press upward, left side, right side... across the tip, at middle side parts of reed, at thicker side parts (low note response) of reed... Where I feel asymmetrical resistance almost always corresponds to the play test findings.

I use the (sharp!) knife only on the thicker parts, and only toward the sides, to balance them side-to-side, checking often with the finger test. Once that's done, I put a finer finish on those areas I worked with the knife using rush. Then I use the rush to balance the mid-range side-to-side (middle part of vamp, in area of side rails), again checking often using the finger test. Then I go very, very lightly across the tip, but only if it felt like it needed balancing. It doesn't take much work with rush to balance the tip, or to ruin it, especially on soprano or clarinet reeds.
The sides of the reed, where the side rails of the mouthpiece are, are where most of the issues (asymmetry) lie and can be fixed.
Once everything feels symmetrical with the finger, I do a final "polish" using my thumb on the wet vamp, rubbing from bark toward tip. Then I "burnish" the thick parts of the vamp (near the bark) using the side of a Sharpie marker.

90% of the time, this process gives me a nice-playing reed that stays that way, in no more than 10 - 15 minutes, usually less.
 

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I never worked on reeds the first 34 years I played. In general my experience is that reeds play best the first day or two after I use them and then never play as well again. At the same time, I feel as though I can play on the reeds for months and they'll continue to play.

Last year, I read about adjusting reads here and went back to the Larry Teal Art of Saxophone Playing book. I decided to get the Reedgeek as it looked easy enough to do in the videos. I thought that at least I could level the table enough so that all reeds would pass the "pop test," but that hasn't been the case. I've tried to follow recommendations to play test and work on the reeds in the way SchlockRod describes, but I can't tell the difference after working on the reed. Perhaps I'm not using the Reedgeek correctly as I haven't had any spectacular results.

On another note, I'm not sure if the pop test is meaningful, as my Theo Wanne NY Bros 2 6 alto mouthpiece plays great but almost always fails the pop test (along with the SATB Rico Metalite mouthpieces) but play great with great response.
 

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I never worked on reeds the first 34 years I played. In general my experience is that reeds play best the first day or two after I use them and then never play as well again. At the same time, I feel as though I can play on the reeds for months and they'll continue to play.

Last year, I read about adjusting reads here and went back to the Larry Teal Art of Saxophone Playing book. I decided to get the Reedgeek as it looked easy enough to do in the videos. I thought that at least I could level the table enough so that all reeds would pass the "pop test," but that hasn't been the case. I've tried to follow recommendations to play test and work on the reeds in the way SchlockRod describes, but I can't tell the difference after working on the reed. Perhaps I'm not using the Reedgeek correctly as I haven't had any spectacular results.

On another note, I'm not sure if the pop test is meaningful, as my Theo Wanne NY Bros 2 6 alto mouthpiece plays great but almost always fails the pop test (along with the SATB Rico Metalite mouthpieces) but play great with great response.
Jimmy Jensen told me the Pop Test doesn't mean much.
I haven't tried the Reed Geek but I don't trust it. It makes line contact with the reed. For the life of me (I'm a mechanical engineer) I can't see how that can ensure flatness the way planar contact can (e.g. 600 grit on tempered glass). Unless, of course, you were to put it, and the reed, in a fixture (jig) setup designed to work like a woodworker's milling setup.
 

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Last year, I read about adjusting reads here and went back to the Larry Teal Art of Saxophone Playing book. I decided to get the Reedgeek as it looked easy enough to do in the videos. I thought that at least I could level the table enough so that all reeds would pass the "pop test," but that hasn't been the case. I've tried to follow recommendations to play test and work on the reeds in the way SchlockRod describes, but I can't tell the difference after working on the reed. Perhaps I'm not using the Reedgeek correctly as I haven't had any spectacular results.

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Well, I think "spectacular results" is expecting too much.

I think using the long straight edge of the scraper to flatten the back of the reed will be a lot slower and less effective than using a small knife blade, which has a curved edge, to selectively remove the raised material from the middle of the reed back where it's touching the mouthpiece table (and keeping the sides from sealing). I know that on larger reeds, I have to be pretty aggressive to get the back of the reed flat, as I routinely see warpage of 0.5 mm or even more.

Usually when a reed starts acting like a much stiffer reed in the low register, I inspect it and find a convex back.

I don't do a lot of balancing or tweaking of the front, although I do reduce stiffness fairly often. Many times when I clip a reed that's gotten too soft, I have to thin the tip a bit to restore responsiveness. Occasionally I sense side-to-side unevenness, but it's rare, compared to flattening the back by removing large amounts of material, which probably ends up being more than 80% of reeds.
 

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Jimmy Jensen told me the Pop Test doesn't mean much.
I haven't tried the Reed Geek but I don't trust it. It makes line contact with the reed. For the life of me (I'm a mechanical engineer) I can't see how that can ensure flatness the way planar contact can (e.g. 600 grit on tempered glass). Unless, of course, you were to put it, and the reed, in a fixture (jig) setup designed to work like a woodworker's milling setup.
How do you remove 0.5 mm of moist wood using 600 grit paper on a flat plate, without having the entire tip go away? Do you hang that part off the paper? How long does it take with 600 paper to get the back flat? (I really pretty much have to whittle wood off the back)

I don't know who Jimmy Jensen is but I agree the pop test isn't worth the time it takes to do it. Does anyone really think you can achieve a seal between a curved hard rubber surface and a piece of wood that's bent to fit it, well enough to actually keep the reed bent to that curve with maybe 0.1 atm of vacuum applied? I don't buy it. When people use this test to assess the mouthpiece is when they are really going off the reservation. When you consider that tolerances on mouthpieces would be in the single digit thousandths of an inch and they are using a piece of cane with a rough surface finish and tolerances on the order of 0.01 to 0.05 inches, to assess the thing with tolerances of 0.001 inch, one can only shake one's head.
 

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I don't know who Jimmy Jensen is but I agree the pop test isn't worth the time it takes to do it. Does anyone really think you can achieve a seal between a curved hard rubber surface and a piece of wood that's bent to fit it, well enough to actually keep the reed bent to that curve with maybe 0.1 atm of vacuum applied? I don't buy it. When people use this test to assess the mouthpiece is when they are really going off the reservation. When you consider that tolerances on mouthpieces would be in the single digit thousandths of an inch and they are using a piece of cane with a rough surface finish and tolerances on the order of 0.01 to 0.05 inches, to assess the thing with tolerances of 0.001 inch, one can only shake one's head.
+1
 

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'so you need no patience or knowledge.'

Now that's something I could probably use!
 
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