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Like you I was also hoodwinked into buying a Reedgeek last year, when the tried and true method of a paper pad and sandpaper of various grit technique has worked for me for years. Anytime I attempted to adjust the front and sides with the Reedgeek, I took chunks relative to what sandpaper's more subtle and gentle abrasions. And the back, a pad of paper seals and flattens much better. My friend cut himself with the Reedgeek.
Yeah, good luck flattening a 0.5 mm out of flat reed back by rubbing it on a piece of paper.
 

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Yeah, good luck flattening a 0.5 mm out of flat reed back by rubbing it on a piece of paper.
Good point. I missed that part about flattening the back of a reed by rubbing it on a piece of paper?! And flattening the back of the reed is one thing the Reedgeek excels at. Assuming you use it correctly, swiping it without excessive pressure.
 

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Yeah, good luck flattening a 0.5 mm out of flat reed back by rubbing it on a piece of paper.
0.5 mm warp is a lot. I am inclined to give up on a reed with that much warp unless it is a 4 or 3.5 I am not stupid. I use a sandpaper on a flat piece of glass for problematic. The lathe bits from HF or a reed knife or even sandpaper do a much better job.

The problem with the RG is when you do the front, those pin-point adjustments. The RG can take chunks off. Reed rush is the better tool IME. I tried to work with the RG but I messed up more reeds than fix them and almost cut myself on them if I did not have callouses. Most of the time the paper trick works specially Rigotti's. I like this brand a lot, for me consistent and about 80% are useable with minimal prep. If you shop around they are also a good value.
 

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Paper is not an abrasive. Rubbing the back of a reed on a piece of paper may make you feel good but it's not doing anything. Measure before and after with a straightedge and you'll see.

Sandpaper on the back is kind of OK but you have to make sure it's only on the part that mates with the table; if you just clap a warped reed down on some sandpaper you'll ruin the tip.

It's also very difficult to lap a convex surface into flatness. If you are at risk of cutting yourself trying to use a lathe bit to scrape a reed, you probably don't have sufficient manual skill to lap a convex surface flat (the back sides of reeds warp to a convex shape).

On the other hand a cutting tool applied to only the places where material needs to be removed, will make a convex surface flat in short order. Personally I just use a small penknife to remove material from the back till it's flat, checking with a small straightedge that I keep in the case along with the penknife. Fast, cheap, easy. Of course being from Texas I've carried a pocketknife every day of my life since first grade except when traveling by air, so those who don't ever use a pocketknife might be at a disadvantage.
 

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A reed geek is expensive, considering a simple lathe tool or a knife will suffice. I can injure myself making coffee, so I do not see any significant problem as far as injury. If one feels like throwing away reeds, then toss them. I would rather play them because that is why I bought them. At $3.90 per reed, it is worth a few minutes to not only make the reeds play, but to sound good while playing them. The longevity I get from playing decent reeds has already paid for the reed geek. As I have said, I suspect there are more reeds that play than do not, with appropriate care.
 

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Reedgeek and other methods are cool, but let’s get back to the actual reeds. Outside the occasional complete dud, I still play every reed in the box and prefer Rigotti. Gigs, rehearsals, home practice: doesn’t matter. The only thing I do routinely is make sure the back is flat. If you’re working the tops of reeds a lot then you’re starting with a cut and, or strength that’s not good for you. Removing a bunch of material—remember, we’re talking fractions of mm here—changes the profile. Try a different one.
 

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Strangely enough, I find the difference between 2H (actually, it's 2 Strong, but 2S sounds like 'soft', so I'll leave it at 2H) and 3L (3 Light), to be pretty small. I can use them interchangeably, although I have a slight preference for the 3L.

If that is happening, you're probably pressing down too hard when using the Reedgeek. When scraping with it, you hold it at an angle to the reed and simply allow its weight to do the job as you scrape forward. All that said, I agree with you that sandpaper does the job just fine.
You are correct I meant to write 2.5 Strong and 3 Light... The difference between both is subtle but noticeable, at least as I live in an area subject to large humidity swings, having both strength on hands spares me unnecessary adjustments on a reed that will otherwise play perfectly when the weather collaborates...
 

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@Britsaxplayer1 said:
If Vandoren can get their process down to a fine art where 1, maybe 2 out of 10 reeds get tossed, then why can't the other manufacturers? 30 years teaching and STILL haven't found a reed manufacturer to match Vandoren in terms of both initial quality and overall consistency, across their ENTIRE product range.

There are two things about this statement that bother me. First, in my experience EVERY reed, regardless of manufacturer, is different and most do require some minimal adjustment. In my 60+ years of playing, the consistency of reeds from all manufacturers has increased a great deal. When I started playing Vandoren clarinet reeds in the 1960s, every box had one or two that were badly misformed - bark up one side, thin on one side, short vamp, etc. Rico was the same. Today this is not the case, reeds are very consistent. I have tried almost every brand of saxophone reed over the last 20 years, and most of them are extremely consistent. Rico Orange Box and Royal being the exception, but they are still much better than they were in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Second, this statement shows a misunderstanding of the reed manufacturing process. All reeds of a specific brand and sub brand (e,g., Vandoren Java Red or D’Addario Select Jazz Unfiled), are exactly the same. Same cut, same profile. Reed strength is determined after, not before, they are cut. The differences are due to the variable nature of the cane itself, and nothing else. Vandoren, Rigotti (including all the boutique brands they make) and D’Addario are all making reeds at a very high level of consistency.

Finally, in my experience, Vandoren reeds on saxophone suck. For me…. I know lots of folks play them, but they have never worked well for me. I prefer Rigotti, with D’Addario close behind. But many fine players have the opposite experience. If a particular reed doesn’t work well for you, try a different one. But it’s a mistake to assume that just because a particular brand of reed is bad for you, it is because they are made poorly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 

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@Britsaxplayer1 said:
If Vandoren can get their process down to a fine art where 1, maybe 2 out of 10 reeds get tossed, then why can't the other manufacturers? 30 years teaching and STILL haven't found a reed manufacturer to match Vandoren in terms of both initial quality and overall consistency, across their ENTIRE product range.

There are two things about this statement that bother me. First, in my experience EVERY reed, regardless of manufacturer, is different and most do require some minimal adjustment. In my 60+ years of playing, the consistency of reeds from all manufacturers has increased a great deal. When I started playing Vandoren clarinet reeds in the 1960s, every box had one or two that were badly misformed - bark up one side, thin on one side, short vamp, etc. Rico was the same. Today this is not the case, reeds are very consistent. I have tried almost every brand of saxophone reed over the last 20 years, and most of them are extremely consistent. Rico Orange Box and Royal being the exception, but they are still much better than they were in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Second, this statement shows a misunderstanding of the reed manufacturing process. All reeds of a specific brand and sub brand (e,g., Vandoren Java Red or D’Addario Select Jazz Unfiled), are exactly the same. Same cut, same profile. Reed strength is determined after, not before, they are cut. The differences are due to the variable nature of the cane itself, and nothing else. Vandoren, Rigotti (including all the boutique brands they make) and D’Addario are all making reeds at a very high level of consistency.

Finally, in my experience, Vandoren reeds on saxophone suck. For me…. I know lots of folks play them, but they have never worked well for me. I prefer Rigotti, with D’Addario close behind. But many fine players have the opposite experience. If a particular reed doesn’t work well for you, try a different one. But it’s a mistake to assume that just because a particular brand of reed is bad for you, it is because they are made poorly. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every reed may well need SOME adjustment, but MAJOR adjustment? MAJOR use of ultra fine sanding media to smooth out the tip and sides of the reed (obviously you NEVER touch the spine). FREQUENTLY that still doesn't cure the issue. YES, you are right; cane is a living organism so every stick of cane that is used will be different in organic structure. What you seem to forget is that due to the computer controlled manufacturing process ALL major manufacturers use this does NOT explain the huge fluctuations within each box. each box is normally cut from the same stick of cane and following your logic, if one reed is bad they all are bad (same stick of cane(; that isn't the case. And regarding the use of Vandoren reeds for saxophones? If they are good enough for Euge Groove....
 

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Britsaxplayer, you need to put your response outside of the quote box. Otherwise, it kind of gets lost in there.
I don't think Steve was implying that Vandoren reeds were bad for everyone, just that he didn't like them. By the way, I remember a few years back when Euge Groove came on here and complained that he was having trouble finding any good reeds. I think he was using Vandoren reeds then, but don't know for sure.
 

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Actually, huge fluctuations are the norm. Vandoren reeds fluctuate just as much. Take for instance a Java Red reed. EVERY SINGLE REED is cut the exact same way on the same machine. I believe these reeds range in strength from 1.0 to 5.0, with half strengths. AFTER the reeds are cut, they are measured and graded for strength. A 1.5 reed might be cut from a blank that was right next to a blank that makes a 5.0 reed. If that isn’t significant variation, I don’t know what is.

These fluctuations are caused by differential density of the cane material, which grows under the direction of its DNA, and under the influence of its environment.

What is more, there are fluctuations WITHIN THE REED. I test and adjust each reed for side to side balance when I first take it from the box. Vandoren reeds are no different than any other - that is, each one of them requires a small adjustment to get in balance. Sometimes a large adjustment.

I took issue with the statement that Vandoren reeds are made to a higher standard than other reeds. In my experience, they are not.

I am glad that you like Vandoren reeds. You are not alone. Personally, I don’t. I am not alone either :) Chacun a son gout.
 
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