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Discussion Starter #1
Guys, A very professional guy whose name I won't mention uses this technique. He's popular enough to play on the radio and a few albums.


I quote his technique: I put a cup of water in the microwave for 35 to 45 seconds and let the reeds sit in hot water for about five minutes. After that, I just play them until they work.

What's your opinion about this?
 

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Reed tea.
 

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I often soak reeds for a few minutes before playing them.

35 to 40 seconds is not very hot so I doubt the heat is doing anything bad (or good).
 

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My experience is that reeds that soak that long become waterlogged and play very "tubby" or "stuffy" until they dry out a bit. My technique is to either wet the reed in my mouth or in a small cup of cool water for about 15 seconds and then put it back in the reed guard. After the sax is assembled and the music is set up, I take the reed out and put it on the mouthpiece. It is soaked the right amount, it is perfectly flat at the tip, and it is ready to play. This is especially handy when playing more than one sax and/or clarinet on a gig.

John
 

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Is this technique for new reeds? Five minutes for a reed that's already in the rotation seems way too long.
Unless you're making Green Reed Tea.
 

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If I soaked a reed here on the big island it would waterlogged. If I tried to play a reed dry in Banff (Canadian Rockies), it is just tooo dry.

There's also personal preference. I prefer a dryer reed than some of my colleagues.

It all depends on the humidity and of where you are and personal preference, IMHO.

There are no real 'one size fits all' rules for reeds.

I do agree with Stan Getz on reeds---they all suck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
bandmommy said:
Is this technique for new reeds? Five minutes for a reed that's already in the rotation seems way too long.
Unless you're making Green Reed Tea.


This is for brand new reeds. Notice he said "play them untill they work".
 

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I have for years soaked brand new reeds in warm tap water for about 10 minutes as part of a break-in process; it works well for me. However, I agree with Hak: what works depends on prevailing local conditions and personal preference. This technique is worth a try, IMO; if it works, continue it.
 

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I always have used room temperature or slightly warm water to soak reeds and only for about 1-2 minutes.

I guess I "shouldn't knock it till I tried it." Maybe I'll give this a go on some of my harder reeds.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Anyone soak new reeds overnight as part of the intial break-in process?
 

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Wailin' said:
Anyone soak new reeds overnight as part of the intial break-in process?
Not on purpose. I have left reeds soaking for several days before, found we had a new pet.
 

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I used to try different reed prep things. In the end I've decided to K.I.S.S. it - Keep It Simple Stupid!

Just wet them in my mouth when they come out of the case to play, and then I play. I do rotate them so they last longer, but they dont get any special treatment.

Sometimes I will use a reed knife to correct blemishes when I get a reed that refuses to play well at all.
 

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Wailin',

One of the most common problems with cane reeds is they are not balanced properly in their cut. I don't see how the soaking/microwave technique you describe can correct an unbalanced reed.

Back when I used cane reeds I followed the break-in proceedure taught by Tom Alexander. It worked very well for me. The trick with soaking cane reeds is not to overdo it. Otherwise, the reed will become waterlogged as has been mentioned.

Roger
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Roger Aldridge said:
Wailin',

One of the most common problems with cane reeds is they are not balanced properly in their cut. I don't see how the soaking/microwave technique you describe can correct an unbalanced reed.

Back when I used cane reeds I followed the break-in proceedure taught by Tom Alexander. It worked very well for me. The trick with soaking cane reeds is not to overdo it. Otherwise, the reed will become waterlogged as has been mentioned.

Roger

What I mean is to soak them overnight then let them dry completely. I don't mean playing on them when soggy wet or damp.
 

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I don't understand the point in soaking reeds overnight and then letting them dry completely. Personally, I don't see how it would do the reed cane much good. What makes the most sense to me is to gradually break-in a reed over a period of several days...playing only a couple of minutes at first, a bit longer the 2nd day, and even longer the 3rd day.

A good resource book on reeds is "Perfect at Reed...and Beyond" by Ben Armato. It's written from the perspective of the clarinet. However, all of the principles concerning reeds apply equally to the saxophone. Ben knows his stuff. Highly recommended!

Roger
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Roger Aldridge said:
Wailin',

One of the most common problems with cane reeds is they are not balanced properly in their cut. I don't see how the soaking/microwave technique you describe can correct an unbalanced reed.


Roger
Please don't misunderstand me. What I've stated is for softening the fibers not balancing or correctly balancing an unbalanced reed.
 

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Gradually breaking in the reed over several days, as I suggested, will do just that. In the past I tried any number of ways to break in reeds. Some very creative methods have been suggested on the Forum! ha ha ha Simply put, in many cases when I tried a more creative approach I discovered that the reed lost its mojo. Easy does it is good advice, I think, to end up with a reed that has a strong tonal core and a vibrant sound.

Roger
 

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Wailin' said:
Please don't misunderstand me. What I've stated is for softening the fibers not balancing or correctly balancing an unbalanced reed.
That might very well soften the fibers, but as Roger said so will a normal break in plus brief soaking. If you soften the fibers too much, the cane loses its resilience. It can't snap back into position when being articulated and played. Even if the reed plays more easily after a 24 hour soaking, it will lose its crisp tone. Besides, if one needs to soak a reed overnight to get them to work, they're probably playing on too hard a strength anyway.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Sometimes I wish they'd make 2.25 or 2.75 reeds. A quarter or 3/4 strength higher or lower would fit my needs. That's probably where sanding or stroking the vamp comes in.
 
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