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I've been using a reed clipper for some time now, and really liked the results. (two 2.5 Vandoren reeds have lasted me nearly half a year, and felt pratically the same as when they were new.) The only issue is that the quality of the sound they produce degrades over time (this is the only reason I bought new reeds). I've read the various articles concerning reed shaving and found them all very helpful, but would like to know what specifically to do in order to maintain a "good sound" on an old reed that has been clipped several times. Thanks.
 

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Just my opinion, but I think any reed's quality will degrade over time.
No matter if you shave it or clip it etc.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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As you clip the reed, the heart gest nearer the tip each time, so even without the natural degradation of the reed itself, the optimal dimensions are being compromised all the time.
 

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Six Months,,,DUDE, NASTY!

The reed clipper is a nice tool to have, but it is usually used for taking off that minor chip or firming up that slightly light reed. Clipping an already blown out reed will give you only a day or two of playing time. After that throw it out and put a new one into the rotation.

The 'average' life span of a natural reed is 6-8 weeks with daily playing. The enzymes in your saliva, bacteria, and vibrations from playing degrade the fibers throughout the entire reed not just the tip.
 

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Basically I agree with the rest..but SIX MONTHS!! (i'm impressed!). I do use a reed clipper myself and i'm not sure i necessarily agree that clipping compromises the reed's ability to sound good as much as some people believe. Any problems i have (with a clipped reed) tend to be at the extreme ends of the sax range and since i don't use those a great deal i'm not overly fussed in my daily playing circumstances. If I like a reed i'll clean it with a toothbrush from time to time to prolong life further.. But 6 months is really quite a long time for one reed!!
 

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.....(two 2.5 Vandoren reeds have lasted me nearly half a year, and felt pratically the same as when they were new.) .....
Holy smokes! That's one reed per six months. Do you play often or just during a blue moon?:shock:
 

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Personally, I don't see much value in a reed clipper. Typically, a reed clipper changes the shape of the reed tip. At least that has been my experience. Then, whenever I used a reed clipper the quality of sound that I got was not quite as good as before. I don't see it as a big deal to retire a reed when it's time has come and to bring a new one into rotation. Also, there is a danger in focusing one's playing too much on a single reed. As the reed softens over time one's chops will become used to the reduced strength. Then, when a new reed is used in the same strength there's a good chance that it will feel stiffer. It's much better for our chops and reeds in general to use a number of them in rotation.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Roger Aldridge said:
Personally, I don't see much value in a reed clipper. Typically, a reed clipper changes the shape of the reed tip. At least that has been my experience. Then, whenever I used a reed clipper the quality of sound that I got was not quite as good as before. I don't see it as a big deal to retire a reed when it's time has come and to bring a new one into rotation.
I agree to a certain extent. A reed clipper can be useful on a new reed that is too soft, provided it's a good clipper with a correctly shaped curve. It will bring the heart of the reed closer to the tip as I said previously, but this can only be good if the heart was too far back in the first place.

With older reeds the use of a clipper can be a very short term fix as the reed has already broken down due to saliva and vibration trauma. I have a more in depth discussion on this very subject here:

http://www.petethomas.co.uk/saxophone-reeds.html
 

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my teacher says he changes reeds every 5 hours of playing, must be all that subtoning of his.....3 months is a very long time!

I have had some reeds lasting very long and some dying after a few days......but 3 months! Wow, that's cheap! I clip reeds that are too soft to start with, I have never successfully attempted the opposite, making a hard reed softer.

A good clipper doesn't change the shape of the tip (I use a Pisoni clipper) it only makes it shorter, varying the ratio (the distance) between tip and heart.

Less tip, harder reed. If a reed has been played to exhaustion the whole reed is fatigued, therefore clipping won't really work and giving you , at best few extra hours of not too great playing.

Make sure the reed is soaked before you clip.


Rinsing or soaking reeds in water after using prolongues somewhat their life ( the saliva enzimes, notably amylase, dissolve starch ( cellulose is a starchy molecule which forms the cell walls of cane ) and transform it in glucose , the longer they are in contact with saliva the less elastic they will be, loosing their capability to vibrate as they are used until they can't be used anymore.


Dry any reed after soaking on a piece of glass , this insures a certain resistance against warping.
 

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Any reed -- cane or synthetic -- has an optimal life span. As it's been discussed on this thread it can be possible to extend the life of a reed to some extent. But, I have to ask what's the point? Is it contest to see how long one can keep playing on a reed? It's starting to sound like a macho kind of thing. ha ha ha

It's been my experience that using 4-5 reeds in rotation, doing a comparative test of my performance reeds at least once a month, retiring any reed that does not play as well as the others and adding a new one gives me the most consistant results on each of my horns. For me, there is no contest between a performance quality reed in its prime and an over-the-hill reed that I've clipped or otherwise tried to extend its life -- the vibrancy of sound that I expect from my reeds is not there. So, again, what's the point?

Roger
 
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