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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I’m getting more nuanced about my reed care, trying to be deliberate about break in and working on reeds ;my wife thinks I’m nuts btw…), but curious what your favorite reed holders are. I’ve used the la voz plastic 4 reed holders, protech 10 reed holders and also just keeping them in the holders included as packaging. In the winter/spring months here in the Midwest I’ve kept them sealed with humidity packs but in the summer I tend to keep them out and even then they don’t fully dry out. The dew point here today is in the upper 60’s so plenty of moisture in the air. I’m trying to keep track of how the air temp/humidity affects how the reeds will play, kind of an ongoing battle. Curious what others are doing….
 

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This is all so personal, and also has something to do with the climate that you live in. My personal preference is for something called the Reed Wallet, which holds 8 reeds, but unfortunately is no longer available. Just a simple plastic double-sided holder with a piece of elastic band to hold the reeds in place, and the whole thing wrapped up in a leatherette fold. Second best is the D'Addario 4 reed holder, these are cheap and I like that they come in different colors.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so humidity doesn't vary much, usually around 75% where I live, so I don't need or use humidity control. But I've lived for long periods of time in both Lake Tahoe and Boston, where humidity varies much more - between 40%and 80% in Reno, where I played a lot while in Tahoe, and it goes between 50% and 65% in Boston. And never used humidity control in those locations either, though I did keep a humidity pack in my clarinet case to help prevent cracking.

I'm a minimalist when it comes to working on reeds, I adjust them for balance as soon as I take them out of the box, and maybe tweak them a bit the next couple times I play them, then I just play them until they die. I used to do more, with an extensive break-in process, and found that a) it didn't really make a difference and b) I threw more reeds away, so less is definitely more in this case, at least for me.

I DO let reeds sit around for a year or two before playing them, usually (except when trying a new brand). That is, I buy in advance of when I'm going to need them. I believe this helps them stabilize, but have no scientific evidence for this. However, my last box or two of Rico brown box reeds from the 1980's play great!
 

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My clarinet reeds are kept in an old Vandoren case with the carbon insert that my husband gave me for Christmas around 15 years ago. The carbon thing is long dead but the reeds keep just fine without it.
Sax reeds are in the sleeves they're packaged in.
Humidity, or lack thereof doesn't seem to bother how my reeds play. I'm in Michigan and know all about the dry/humid air changes.
My reeds get adjusted with sandpaper if needed, no 'break in' period, or special storage mumbo jumbo. They don't grow mold in the wet months. They don't require soaking during the dry months.
Pop it in the mouth during horn assembly, play for however long, wipe it off on the pant leg, and back to where I got it from.
When they die I get a new one out and repeat the minimalistic ritual.
I play clarinet, alto, tenor, and bari saxophones.
At nearly 60 I'd rather not waste time on reed rituals that in my experience don't make the reeds play better or last longer.
 
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I open the box, pull out a reed and play it. I leave it on the mouthpiece, occasionally rinsing it, until it dies. Then I throw it away and repeat this system. I like the little plastic reed holders the reeds come in in case I have to store it for a touch.

I recommend the D’Addario reed holder that holds the humidity packets for people who don’t follow the one reed at a time method.
 

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I now mainly use one of those D'Addario 8-reed holders that works with the Boveda humidity packs.

I also only soak my reeds in a 50/50 solution of peroxide and water (i.e., a 1.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide). I soak them for about 5 mins before I play and for a couple of minutes after I play, before wiping them down and putting them away.

I only switched to this method about two years ago, but my reeds have been lasting longer and have been more consistent than ever.

I have some of the Vandoren reed guards that @bandmommy mentioned and I used them for many years, but I frequently ran into issues with molding reeds. That hasn't been a problem with the D'Addario reed holder so far.
 

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Summer reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Winter reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Fall reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Spring reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.
 

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I have some of the Vandoren reed guards that @bandmommy mentioned and I used them for many years, but I frequently ran into issues with molding reeds. That hasn't been a problem with the D'Addario reed holder so far.
15 years with the Vandoren case and ZERO moldy reeds.
You must live somewhere hot and wet 99% of the year.
 

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Hi all,

I’m getting more nuanced about my reed care, trying to be deliberate about break in and working on reeds ;my wife thinks I’m nuts btw…), but curious what your favorite reed holders are. I’ve used the la voz plastic 4 reed holders, protech 10 reed holders and also just keeping them in the holders included as packaging. In the winter/spring months here in the Midwest I’ve kept them sealed with humidity packs but in the summer I tend to keep them out and even then they don’t fully dry out. The dew point here today is in the upper 60’s so plenty of moisture in the air. I’m trying to keep track of how the air temp/humidity affects how the reeds will play, kind of an ongoing battle. Curious what others are doing….
Sorry, but I'm with your wife. No matter what the air temp/humidity is outside or inside, when you start playing, the reed goes to 98.6 deg F / 100% humidity. Why anybody would want to turn reeds into a petri dish is beyond my comprehension. Just play the darn things and put them in a holder when you're done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
15 years with the Vandoren case and ZERO moldy reeds.
You must live somewhere hot and wet 99% of the year.

I remember having that trouble in college using those, but who knows, I might have been eating a quarter pounder with cheese before I was practicing back then! Ha. I’ve still got those hanging around, I’ll have to bust those out and try them again. I prefer a holder with ridges along the flat part of the reed, I think it helps the reed dry more evenly. Can you even buy those charcoal inserts now? Did they do anything?
 

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I used the Rico 4 reed holder forever, it worked fine in that in holds reeds. Tried the Vandoren one with the dehumidifier packet but reeds would mold. Recently switched to the BSS reed holder. Living in New England I've found running a humidifier helps reeds quite a bit in the winter, as 20% humidity is no fun for anything.
 

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My routine is similar to SoP’s. No fuzz. Put the reed on, play, wipe it and store.
When new I do work on them a bit with a knife as needed to make 10/10 playable out of a box.
This has worked for me for 25 years.
 

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15 years with the Vandoren case and ZERO moldy reeds.
You must live somewhere hot and wet 99% of the year.
It's possible that we're referring to different reed cases. I'm talking about the ones that look like this:

106498


I bought two of these when I was still in the US Army (more than 20 years ago) and I used them as my primary reed cases for tenor saxophone reeds until about two years ago. This means that I've used them everywhere I've lived since then and I've had the recurring mold problem in all locations and seasons, from the cold winters of Rochester, NY to the hot, dry summers of Austin, TX, to more moderate seasons in North Carolina and New Jersey. The problem wasn't persistent (otherwise I would have ditched these many years ago), but it was recurring. Each time it happened, I'd throw out the affected reeds, disassemble the reedholder and soak it in a bleach solution, then wipe it down with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. Sometimes the problem would recur within as little as a week; other times the reeds would be okay for several months.

If this is indeed the reed case you meant as well, then it may come down to differences in body chemistry or in how moist we keep our reeds. In any event, the comments by @ving and @ArtDeco suggest that my experience was not unique.

I liked them because they kept the reeds moist and ready to play (I could pre-soak the reeds before leaving for a gig and they'd still be ready to play half an hour later) and they kept the reed tips from warping. For my other (less often played) horns, I've always used the LaVoz reedguards, which never led to mold issues but have a tendency to make the reeds dry out quickly.

The D'Addario with the Boveda packets gives me the best of both worlds.

I remember having that trouble in college using those, but who knows, I might have been eating a quarter pounder with cheese before I was practicing back then! Ha. I’ve still got those hanging around, I’ll have to bust those out and try them again. I prefer a holder with ridges along the flat part of the reed, I think it helps the reed dry more evenly. Can you even buy those charcoal inserts now? Did they do anything?
Yes. I don't know whether Vandoren still makes the inserts, but you can still buy them at Muncy Winds. I last ordered some about two and a half years ago. The activated charcoal is supposed to act as a dessicant, to keep the closed case from staying too moist.

FWIW, the D'Addario holder I mentioned above also has ridges along the flat part of the reed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I’ve been using the Protech black reed cases, they are built like a tank, I’ve had a couple of those for well over a decade. During the winter months I keep them in a sealable bag with the boveda packs, Last winter I experimented with a few waterproof phone boxes I bought at a local surplus store keeping the reeds in the plastic packaged holders and that seemed to work well. There is room at the lid for a small thermometer/hygrometer so it’s been interesting to track changes in how the reeds play based on those conditions. Surprisingly right now, though even though temps were in the 90’s in my garage and dew points above 60 the relative humidity didn’t strike me as particular high, so perhaps in the extreme seasons just relying on humidity isn’t as good if an indicator of how the reed will respond. (Talking about performance, that is.)
 

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Summer reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Winter reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Fall reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.

Spring reed care - remove from holder, wet, attach to mouthpiece, play, remove, place in holder.
Sounds like my routine, but what do I know; I've only been doing this since 1978 and no mold yet.
 

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Well, I lived in Houston 4 years and never did anything more than take the reed off and slide it into the Reed guard, and I certainly never saw any mold.
I've never had moldy reeds either.
Odd since I've been playing for 50 years.
 

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I've been playing for 60 years, and I have had a moldy reed. There, I feel better.

I put the reed away without the critical step of wiping it on my pants first. I know, I know... I was drunk. It was a Sunday night, my next gig wasn't until Thursday, and the reed got moldy. In my defense, she was eager to get to the car...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Haha, leave it to sotw to find disagreement in having had moldy reeds. I should add I’ve only had trouble when I haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening in my reed case. If I’m checking in with reeds every day it’s not a problem.
 

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Living in New England I've found running a humidifier helps reeds quite a bit in the winter, as 20% humidity is no fun for anything.
I'm in New Mexico where frequently humidity is in the teens, and sometimes in single digits.

Back to reed cases. I used the Vito ones for a long time with good success. I also liked the Vandoren dual ones you used to get from twin packs of reeds.

I also have some of the LaVoz ones but I'm not a huge fan of them. They don't seem to hold reeds as well and the little tabs always seem to break on me. I remember using the Vandoren ones mmichel mentioned when I was in Jr. High about 25 years ago and had mold issues with it. I haven't had any mold issues with any other case I've ever used since.

Now I'm pretty much using the Rico/D'Addario ones with the Boveda packs for everything.
 
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