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Discussion Starter #1
Hey There,

So, I've been using a ReedGeek for about a year now and kind of swear by it... However I want to make sure I'm using it right because recently it's felt like a bit much..... I play a 10/10* mouthpiece and use 3M/3H rigotti/RJS/RW reeds. I hear that a bigger tip opening is more sensitive to reeds but this is feeling like a bit much... I spent hours shaving reeds down until they feel OK, and generally i sense improvement, but this is a big tiring.

My reed preparation process:
1.Soak the reed in my mouth or in warm water for roughly 15-30mins.
2.Dry the reed off a little by gently rubbing the flat side on my pant leg for a little bit.
3.i use the reed geek to shave away on the flat side of the reed until it feels smooth. I use the 'light trick' recommended on reedgeek's website/videos to check for imbalances and try to correct them. This part can take hours.
4.play the reed and maybe shave a tiny bit off the sides of the top of the reed if I sense any timbral inconsistencies.
5. once I've had enough, I rub the flat part of the reed on blank white printer paper on a flat surface to flatten it out more.
6. repeat until reed is playable or give up entirely

This is what I've been doing for a while and it used to work fine but either I'm going too hard with the reedgeek (doesn't seem to be the case as the reeds are becoming more responsive the more I take away), or reeds are generally outrageously inconsistent, or my reeds are too hard (I've been using this strength/set up well before I get my reedgeek) or something else I'm unaware of.

Anyway, I hope this is the right place for this question, I'm curious about other people's advice/tips/processes.
 

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30 minutes is probably a bit too long to soak for; whenever I go past 15 I feel like they die quicker on me. Try a legere signature. Pretty damn good for practicing at the very least
 

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I do most of the things you are talking about very similarly, except like 1/4th as much.
I would suggest a 1/2 strength softer reed and less time soaking.
You want to make sure you find the reed that is closest to the response and sound you like as well. For example, I can make a Java Red and a V-16 sound and feel similar, but the Java red will take 2-3 minutes of shaving/shaping and the V-16 will need 10-15 of shaving/shaping to get the sam feel.

You are on the right track, but need to do shorter versions of each step. Not just to save time, but also because the reed shouldn't be messed with as much as you are doing.
 

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If you're doing that much work your reeds are likely too hard to begin with. I mostly use tools like this to deal with slight warping or swelling of reeds once I've played them a bit. I keep my Geek in my gig case for when I'm out playing though I haven't had to use it often. At home I use these; https://www.harborfreight.com/5-pie...-tool-bits-for-metalworking-lathes-40641.html bits that I picked up from Harbor Freight. Functionally they work just as well as the Reedgeek for flattening the backs of reeds for 1/10th the price and I don't worry about loosing them or wearing them out.
 

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They have it - you are using reeds that are too hard to start with. Sounds like you are reducing them to at least 2 1/2 in your process. Try some (started to say Rico Royal but they aren't called that anymore) Royal 2 1/2 without modification and see how you like them. I suggest not soaking reeds at all. Get a Reed Guard - moisten a new reed with water or in your mouth and put it in the Reed Guard for about 15 minutes - the reed will be ready to play. Assuming its a usable reed, put it back in the Reed Guard after playing until its needed again, when you should take it out, moisten and put it back in again for at least 15 minutes.
Another possibility is your mouthpiece has a defective facing and should be corrected, after which it will be much more 'reed-friendly'.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
i thought i might be too, so i tried some softer reeds and frankly they just felt too soft after broken in. the 3M/H's feel great when broken in, and i feel like it didn't use to take me nearly this long to work them into shape. ill try less soaking and take it easy on the scrapping.

i recently got a reedjuvinate but their suggested soaking process just leaves my reeds feeling harder
 

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Micheal, your 3) takes hours? They recommend only a very light shaving for balancing the reed. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I just shave off a little bit and then try it.
 

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I use a pocket knife instead of a fancy tool. And, I do just a little bit before stopping to test it before taking off more. DAVE
 

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I use a pocket knife instead of a fancy tool. And, I do just a little bit before stopping to test it before taking off more. DAVE
+1 - I keep a single blade razor blade, and a bit of fine grit sand paper in my sax case just in case i don't have my handy little Old Timer pocketknife to do minor adjustments when away from the house. At home, use a bit of sand paper and the pocket knife to bring wonky reeds to the point they're at least good enough for practice if not a very rare gig... always taking as little material off as necessary and then testing. Never do I take more than 20 minutes or so, if that.
 

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I love the reed geek.

1) I use it to flatten the bottom of the reed. I just keep scraping/testing/scraping/testing until no water gets onto the table. Flattening the bottom of the reed doesn't take long, but as the reed swells I will go at it again. Sometimes I just scrape the bottom of the reed at the end of a practice session.

2) As for trimming, I figure the thick parts of the reed produce the low notes, so if I have trouble with low notes, I will scrape/play/scrape play until I don't. This brings a lot of reeds from unplayable to enjoyable.

3). In terms of "balancing" the reed, I am not totally convinced that a backlit reed ought to yield to the eye a perfectly symmetrical image of light/dark, which, if achieved, produces the best sound. I do tend to scrape towards achieving such an image, but I stop as soon as I like the sound. Why shouldn't some other configuration of fiber produce (vibrate out) a pleasing sound? (I would like to learn more about this.)
 

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i thought i might be too, so i tried some softer reeds and frankly they just felt too soft after broken in. the 3M/H's feel great when broken in, and i feel like it didn't use to take me nearly this long to work them into shape. ill try less soaking and take it easy on the scrapping.

i recently got a reedjuvinate but their suggested soaking process just leaves my reeds feeling harder
A couple of things come to mind. My first thought was you are definitely using reeds that are too hard if you have to scrape them so much. I wouldn't say a large tip mpc is more sensitive to reeds (not quite sure what that means, though), but it may require a slightly softer reed than smaller a tip mpc. You might try the Rigotti 3 light reeds. You shouldn't have to shave your reeds as much as you say you are doing.

Secondly, as others have pointed out, no need to soak a reed for more than 5 minutes, at most. A half hour soak will leave the reed water-logged. And yeah I tried the reedjuvinate; it didn't leave my reeds feeling harder, just less responsive and dull-playing (water-logged).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
thanks so much everyone, this was extremely helpful. After some experimenting it seems I'm mostly soaking the reeds too long. I'm doing some minor scraping on the backside of the reed before I soak it. After soaking and playing for a bit I work slowly from there mixing shaving and rubbing on paper until it feels smooth. The latter actually seems more thorough than the shaving.
 

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If you take more than 5-10 minutes to adjust a reed then you are doing something wrong, or you are as others have said, starting with too hard a reed. FWIW here's what I do:

0) Take a brand new reed out of the box

1) VERY LIGHTLY sand the vamp of the reed (600 grit sandpaper), moving from heel to tip, about 2 strokes. I avoid the heart, starting at the side and moving toward the center so I'm covering about 1/2 the reed at the tip. This removes any stray fibers that were left by the machining process.

2) Polish the back on paper

3) Soak the reed for 2 minutes or so (less for soprano and clarinet reeds)

4) Do the side to side play test, tilting the mouthpiece in my mouth, to judge which side is harder/stuffier/less resonant. I just use the neck and mouthpiece for this test (or, an open note on soprano and clarinet).

5) Sand that side 2-3 strokes, with light to medium pressure. Again, moving from the side at the back of the vamp to about 1/2 the reed width at the tip (this avoids the heart area).

6) If necessary, repeat 4 and 5 until both sides play a) the same and b) how I like

7) Put the reed in my case and play it in rotation.

Note in the above the absence of any VISUAL checking of the reed, or any testing of flexibility with the finger. Both of these operations were taught to me by my teachers (many moons ago), but I have come to the realization that they are useless.

NOTHING will tell you how a reed will play except playing it.
 

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NOTHING will tell you how a reed will play except playing it.
+1. So very true. A bit of an aside, but I remember many years ago (more than I care to think about) when I first started playing sax, or clarinet actually, the stores used to let you search through an open box of reeds and pick out the ones you wanted; without playing them of course. People would hold the reed up to the light and inspect it, then decide if it was any good. I discovered almost immediately, even at a tender age, the uselessness of this tactic. In all the years since, I've never found any visual clue to how a reed is going to play. For a time there seemed to be a positive correlation between how dark the bark was and how well the reed played, but after a time I realized that wasn't the case.

No way to know until you play it.
 

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Question for skellero47: when you check a side by blowing with the MPC at an angle, and you, say, get a dull (bad) sound when you blow on the right half of the reed, then it's that right side that is the problem, right?, not the opposite side. The reason I'm asking is that I think I've seen what appears to be both explanations. Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Lutemann - when you tilt the mouthpiece, the side that is more against your lip is damped, and you are mostly playing on the other side. Put another way, the side that is up is the side you are testing.

I don't worry as much about the sound as the resistance and resonance. One side of the reed may sound darker or duller, but as long as the resistance and resonance are about the same, you are good to go. It's a feel thing.

The best way to test resistance and resonance is to do a 5 or 6 second decrescendo - start at forte, and go down to ppp ... one side will die out sooner. That's the side you sand :) Only do a little bit at a time, especially at first - like 1 or 2 strokes, then test again. It's real easy to go too far. After you get experience with this, you will be able to tell if it will take 1, 2 or 3 or more strokes to get the result you need.
 

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Are your reeds really warping that much that feel you have to regularly flatten them? Is material being removed, or are you just obsessively sheening the back? Flattening the back of the reed is the most crucial thing, but it happens to be the thing the reedgeek is perfectly suited for. Is your table not flat?

I scrape the back of a new reed flat, soak, flatten again if needed (rare), play, put away. I don’t make adjustments on the first play unless something is way off. I rarely ever notice any material coming off after the first day. I find that the reeds that require re-flattening every time are the ones that are the least favorable for me anyway. I would start playing electric bass if I had to work reeds for 30+ minutes to play them.
 

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Curmudgeon crew: Does the choice of tool really matter?


Come throw me off your lawn...😂😂😂🙏😎🤟
 
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