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Discussion Starter #1
Besides the usual balancing, are there any specific adjustments you routinely do to enhance your reeds for jazz playing?

It seems I've found doing a touch up to improve low register is helping the reeds I've been using (rigotti gold 3 - strong). I remove some of the bark and sand around area 6 in the illustration, and the lower side rails a bit. Other than balancing I don't do much else at all.

I've known some guys to sanded a touch across the very tip, although this probably shortens life a bit. Years ago, I used Rico Royals and only balanced them; I rarely did anything else with those and they worked pretty well.


http://www.dornpub.com/SaxjPDF/reed2.pdf
 

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Aside from the same kind of balancing you mentioned...I almost always "polish" both sides of my reeds using extremely smooth professional manicurist's buffing boards. They're like wide, cushioned emery boards...but with no abrasive grit at all. The surface is almost like extremely smooth leather.

If I do have a reed that's a little too hard I sometimes sand the tip area...but only from the back side...by placing it flat on another one of those professional emery boards with an extremely fine grit...applying even pressure all the way across the tip of the reed with my fingertip...then giving it a few gentle rubs....moving the reed across the board instead of moving the board across the reed.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, either a lot of guys aren't doing a lot of adjustments or maybe tight lipped about it.

I guess the other question is: are guys using reeds that need a little break-in, or that play about the right resistance out of the box?

I do like a little extra resistance at first, as they seem to last longer....

shawn
 

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I use reeds that are 1/2 strength harder than I would normally use and then adjust them using the ATG system. It works beautifully for me. I would say I get 7 or 8 out of 10 reeds to play well using this system.
 

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I pretty much do what you do when I work on reeds. Mostly just balance but occasionally will take some off the back. I used to work on my reeds alot more when I played legit because I started with really hard reeds. If Im playing loud gigs I tend to use harder reeds that havent been worked on as much, if at all. I save the really good ones that Ive worked on for gigs or studio performances where the subtleties of my sound and playing can actually be heard.
 

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I rub the backs against white computer paper and use the ATG method. Not quite sure if the white paper actually works, though.
 

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Well, either a lot of guys aren't doing a lot of adjustments or maybe tight lipped about it.

I guess the other question is: are guys using reeds that need a little break-in, or that play about the right resistance out of the box?

I do like a little extra resistance at first, as they seem to last longer....

shawn
I like a 1 day light break in and then we are playing. I really don't do much . I possibly do reject some reeds that could be better but I give them a shot for practicing and then if not my sound I put on another one.
 

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Back 40 years ago, I do not remember "fussing" around with reeds. Maybe I was just too "ignorant" to worry about it. I did mark my "favorite" reeds for contest and try outs. I used the rest for everyday playing. My reed of choice then was LaVoz. Now I think I am pretty much sold on the Legere Signature for my tenor. I still have a lot of different cane reeds on hand though... sitting on a shelf.
 

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I only seal the reed by rubbing the top with my thumb nail, and moving the reed a lot of times over a piece of printing paper. I lick it both back and front and then play it. I use Rigotti's exclusively - actually never had a bad reed in years.

Reine
 

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I wrote (too much) about reed adjustments that I make in this post:
http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?137256-Modifying-Reeds-what-do-you-do&p=1422062#post1422062

I have it on good authority that I’m wasting time by doing this, but I feel I get great results—results which allow me to get the most out of my reeds. Did I ruin some? You bet, but that was part of the learning curve. The references that I cite in the first paragraph of the linked post are still great resources (so I’m not alone on touting the merits of reed adjustment).

I do a lower register adjustment similar to yours for all of my reeds. Other adjustments tend to be reed/mouthpiece-specific. I also feel Larry Guy’s comments about not overplaying new reeds and always using a “thumb drying” process after play, have a lot of merit. This drying helps extend the life of the reed and, IMHO, makes it more responsive.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
In the past, I've done the "sealing" thing with either back of sandpaper, newspaper, or plain printer paper... bit don't always bother.

Totally agree on the not playing too much the first time out, a resting time during the break-in seems to help longevity. Other good tip that was shared was practicing on the "ok" reeds, and holding back the really good ones for performance.

I did a lot of legit playing in college, and remember one particular reed I used for a very long time (months, at least). I pretty much played for recitals and occasionally in betrween. Had quite an involved routine back then, of course I started with pretty hard reeds.

Back to jazz reeds, since the consensus seems to be reeds that are almost playable out of the box (or playable right away) it makes sense we're keeping adjustments to a minimum. Think I over-tweaked a few recently, and they lasted about a day after that. Been getting the "bump" in the window thing a lot lately on my new mouthpiece, maybe I need to try the back of the sandpaper trick as sanding the bump out more than once starts to soften the reed a bit.
 

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I've come to believe that breaking in reeds is a more than a waste of time, it's potentially lethal (to the reed, that is). I learned this the hard way during a time in my life when I had more work (as a reed player) than I could really handle, and ended up many times having to play a reed on a gig fresh out of the box. A few quick swipes with the reed rush (like many, I buy reeds a little too hard), and on to the gig. These reeds ended up playing as well and lasting as long as those that I broke in using my 4 day process.

To those who have not had success adjusting reeds, I would recommend the ATG system - it's very good, and easy to learn. If it had been around when I was working a lot, I would have learned my lesson about breaking in the easy way... :)

To those who don't do any adjustment, and just play the damn things, please send me your rejects - I can always use a fresh supply of good reeds ;) (If you are keeping track, this means that I generally get 90% of reeds I buy to play well.)

Finally, I would say this - lots of people say that they practice on the bad or as-yet-not-ready reeds, and perform or rehearse on the good ones. This seems to me to be a huge mistake, and I say this as one who used to do it. Why not practice with a horn that leaks, or a bad mouthpiece? Isn't this just practicing how to sound bad? Seems like practice should be a time that you use to hone your craft, and how can you do that if your horn isn't working right? Worse, don't you end up practicing bad habits as you struggle with a too hard or unbalanced reed? But learn to adjust your reeds well, and you don't have to do this.
 

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I've come to believe that breaking in reeds is a more than a waste of time, it's potentially lethal (to the reed, that is)...
Hi,
That's amazing how different experiences people can have. I found breaking in reeds very useful and it works for me (the truth is I really love to do it). Remember some potentially very good reeds ended playing after one day (even shorter). I think I destroyed the fibres playing them to much the first day. But if it works for You.. that's the goal :)
Also my life changed since i started to soak reeds in water ;)

...
Finally, I would say this - lots of people say that they practice on the bad or as-yet-not-ready reeds, and perform or rehearse on the good ones. This seems to me to be a huge mistake, and I say this as one who used to do it.
Steve, I don't think it's exactly like that :). In my opinion the idea is to practice on GOOD reeds and to save those extraordinary (one or two) for a gig). I do it and have no problem with reeds (also cannot imagine to practice on bad reeds).
The idea learning to adjust the reeds is great.
Bless..
 

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Discussion Starter #18
+1
Steve, I don't think it's exactly like that . In my opinion the idea is to practice on GOOD reeds and to save those extraordinary (one or two) for a gig).
Agree with you are both saying in those last 2 posts. I also try to have the best playing reeds I can anytime I play, as it does change the feel a lot if the practice reeds aren't 'happening.' Basically, my top-shelf reeds just have that extra little something. The rotating thing just helps have more ready to go.
 

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I find that I adjust my practice reeds as much or even more than performance reeds. I live in a 3-story brick townhouse in Boston and, although I occupy all the floors, I have neighbors on either side who are typically home when I practice. The objective of my practice reed adjustment is to get a reed that freely vibrates and can be accurately played at low volumes—a regimen which endears me to my neighbors. I may take a 2 1/2 down to 1 1/2 for this purpose; certainly not what I’d do with a reed I’d use for a gig.

RE: Breaking in Reeds: Regretfully, the Larry Guy publication that I referenced (Selection, Adjustment, And Care Of Single Reeds: A Handbook For Clarinetists And Saxophonists) is no longer in print. He describes a 10-day breaking in process. I don’t have enough years left in my life to spend 10 days breaking in every reed, but I do spend at least 3 and often 4 days breaking in and adjusting reeds before I’ll play them longer than 5 minutes. Since I’ve adopted this practice, my reed longevity has increased significantly—typically lasting for several months (well worth the investment of time).
 

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Finally, I would say this - lots of people say that they practice on the bad or as-yet-not-ready reeds, and perform or rehearse on the good ones. This seems to me to be a huge mistake, and I say this as one who used to do it. Why not practice with a horn that leaks, or a bad mouthpiece? Isn't this just practicing how to sound bad? Seems like practice should be a time that you use to hone your craft, and how can you do that if your horn isn't working right? Worse, don't you end up practicing bad habits as you struggle with a too hard or unbalanced reed? But learn to adjust your reeds well, and you don't have to do this.
This is my thought as well. If I am trying to develope my "sound" especially at this stage of re-discovering it, I want to use the best equipment at my disposal.
 
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