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I made a second block to go in a second travel sd case; I used a cedar block (for clothes storage) and added some foam adhesive poster squares on the sides to help create a more rounded edge for contact between the reed and the block. It’s pretty good, not as good as the included block with the ATG but useable. I’ll post a pic.
 

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Is this "sanding block" like what you use for autobody work or drywall work, a rectangular piece of material you wrap sandpaper around and which serves as a backup to it, so you get a flat surface?
Similar but not quite, without giving too much away there is a standoff on the block to allow the SiC paper to be used "Against The Grain" without inflicting unwanted damage.

I agree with others that the value of ATG is primarily in the simple clear instructions that actually get you to the end point of a good reed nearly every time, rather than the actual hardware. Mostly since I have switched to Rigotti Golds I only use it for a little side to side balancing rather than any major fixing. I have no regrets at all about buying the ATG many years ago from someone here for about half its retail cost. Money well spent and returned many times over through the number of reeds that knowledge has made playable for me.
If you are old school and have learned to work reeds with reed rushes, razor blades or penknives over the years there is probably little to be gained by investing in anything new.
 

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I made a second block to go in a second travel sd case; I used a cedar block (for clothes storage) and added some foam adhesive poster squares on the sides to help create a more rounded edge for contact between the reed and the block. It’s pretty good, not as good as the included block with the ATG but useable. I’ll post a pic.
Luggage and bags Bag Eyewear Rectangle Sunglasses
 

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(I should add I forgot my reed geek in this photo, I also have a couple of the cheap drill bit substitutes lying around. I actually prefer the glass rod that came with the Vandoren plate for small balancing adjustments when the reed is on the mpc. I don’t have a set method, I try to do what it seems like the reed needs. Sometimes it’s more surface polishing, sometimes balancing etc. seems to vary based on the reed and also time of year. I have noticed that less is more for me, when I’ve really done an elaborate ritual it hasn’t really paid off).
 

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Yeah, but that's not specific to the specific tools and "system", so we're not supposed to comment.
I think I was actual commenting on both systems, anyway life's too short and money's too tight. I can get at least two boxes of reeds for the price of these things, most, if not all will play and I'll be a happy bunny who hasn't spent time fiddling with something that probably still won't be that good. And I can get all the reed fixing info I need off the internet, for nothing.
 

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Long post warning. TL;DR - the simplest thing that works is best.

I was taught to break reeds in. As I became a multi reed player (3 saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet, plus oboe for a short time), I ended up with 2 large pieces of plate glass, each with a couple dozen reeds in various stages of the break in process. As I became busier, I would occasionally find myself in the situation of”gig tonight - no reeds ready”. Panic ensues.

Of course, I did what needed to be done - get some new reeds out of the box and make them play. I lived in fear of these young, fragile reeds suddenly dying on the gig, Equally of course, that never happened. After a couple years, I said to myself “Self, I wonder if I really need to break reeds in?” After some informal testing, I decided the answer was “no”. I haven’t looked back.

Cut to 2003 or so. I joined SOTW, found a lot of folks talking aboutreeds, so decided to do some research. Purchased several books, Kalman Opperman, Larry Guy, some guy whose name I forget who published a master’s thesis, and the aptly named Ray Reed. And the ATG system. With the exception of Ridenour’s ATG, all these sources (and inummerable YouTube videos) all recommended breaking in. One in particular, Ray Reed, is certifianly crazy, and probably a candidate for OCD patient of the century. Larry Guy isn’t far behind. Both men are excellent and successful musicians, but about reeds, they have nothing useful
for me.

But my experience said breaking in is bunk. Are all these guys wrong? Answer - for me, they are. Ridenour being the exception. Most of the research ended up being useless, with ATG being the single exception. But the sanding block approach is a little too “macro” for me, I was trained to use reed rush. I note that Tom Ridenour himself also uses small pieces of sandpaper (stuck to a putty handle) for fine adjustment purposes.

So today, I use a small piece of sandpaper or a piece of reed rush (Dutch rush) to balance to reed side to side. I pass a geek like tool over the back. No more than 5 minutes a reed. Most play really well. My percentage of good reeds is high, 95% for Rigotti and probably 85-90% for Rico Orange Box. I’m happy :)
 

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I find I can play sax reeds mostly right from the box with slight adjusting, with the exception of Vandorens. Those I seem to need to let equalize a little bit between wet/dry cycles before they feel stabile. On clarinet I seem to need to do this regardless of the brand, but I’ve tried up to 5 days of slight playing on new reeds but two or three seems to be enough usually.
 

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Thanks to this post I’m going to get some new reeds and go back to using the atg more. Key is starting with a harder reed to begin with, Ridenour recommends a half strength harder I believe but I like something that just sits slightly too hard, working reeds down from a full half strength harder I’ve found too time consuming.
 

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If you sand down the majority of reeds, aren't you really just taking most of your reeds down a half number or a quarter number? No wonder they all play easier.


Because I keep reeds for a long time and tend to clip and reshape a given reed more than once, I'm always a bit concerned that I'm gradually reducing my reed stiffness and letting my chops get weaker. That's why I regularly introduce new reeds into the mix. I will typically retire a few of the oldest, shortest (means it's been clipped the most times and so its scrape is getting further and further away from what the manufacturer intended) or softest ones and introduce some new ones, a couple times a year (that's when I'm playing a lot; I'm not playing regularly at all since the Plague Years started, so the post-2020 situation is totally different).
 

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I’ve never had much luck clipping reeds myself. I’m currently going back through a bunch of old reeds seeing if I can get some of those working on a new mpc I’m using. the idea with the ATG is evening out the tip and balancing through sanding “against the grain”. Starting with the stiffer reed just gives you more leeway to take material off really. I’ve got boxes of old reeds here, some in strengths harder than I currently use, so I’m seeing if I can get any of those working.
 

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I own a reed clipper. I believe I own the one I bought at the direction of my clarinet teacher, back in 1963 or so. I have them for each saxophone and clarinet. I clip about 1 reed a year, total, across all 3 saxophones and clarinet.

I do play reeds until they die - that is, get too soft and/or dead sounding. That's why I rotate reeds, each day I adapt to a different reed, so I concentrate on making my sound and don't depend on the characteristics of a particular reed.

I once played a reed every day (well, 6 days a week, 2 shows a night plus rehearsals) for 6 weeks. Good reed. When it finally gave up the ghost, the next day was a little disorienting - wow, are reeds really this hard? That's why I rotate... that and the fact that reeds seem to last longer if you give them a little rest after every play session.
 

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good for you! I’m asking about something specific, not for you to posture.
Has anyone ever found that kind of comment valuable on this website? No. Take your weird fragile attitude somewhere else
[/QUOTE
good for you! I’m asking about something specific, not for you to posture.
Has anyone ever found that kind of comment valuable on this website? No. Take your weird fragile attitude somewhere else
That response sounds like you're thinking you got taken, paying for a couple pieces of wood and a couple pieces of sandpaper, when others are telling you that you can get the same results with a cheap penknife and 6 inch ruler. You shouldn't show your concern quite so blatantly. Play it cool, man.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
No, I’m asking if people can remain on topic, which is tips for using the ATG system, not if you think it’s baloney or not. I like it a lot so far and would appreciate relevant advice from those who are more experienced with it.
 

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No, I’m asking if people can remain on topic, which is tips for using the ATG system, not if you think it’s baloney or not. I like it a lot so far and would appreciate relevant advice from those who are more experienced with it.
Here are the two main things I got from the ATG system.

1) A light sanding of the entire vamp of the reed before doing anything else. (Ridenour sort of tosses this off somewhere in the written monograph.) This is to remove broken and bent fibers left by the cutting machines, especially at the tip.

2) Support for not breaking reeds in.

I followed the ATG system for a couple of years, using the block and the five basic sanding strokes, but found I could do just as well by using a small piece of sandpaper or reed rush. Since I had used this approach for 40 or so years before I got the ATG system, it was easy to go back. I avoid the spine of the reed, and restrict sanding to two sort of triangle shaped areas, on on each side of the reed. The triangle bases overlap at the tip, and the apexes are on each side, along the rail.

I already knew about side to side balancing, and had used the basic mouthpiece rotation test for years. I was glad to see how important it was to Ridenour.

I guess the biggest thing I got from Ridenour was confirmation of some vague intuitions I had about reeds, and some very clear writing and thought about how reeds actually work. Of all the things I have read or watched about reed adjustment, from my teachers, conversations with colleagues over the years, books and papers by noted players and a gazillion videos, Ridenour stands alone as someone that actually makes sense to me.

I recommend it without reservation to anyone struggling with reed adjustment. Whether it’s useful (and worth the price) to someone who is not struggling is not clear.
 
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