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Discussion Starter #1
Here's the link : http://home.comcast.net/~czrzbz/clarinet/reeds.html


It is for clarinet but it applies to saxophone reeds as well. I've tried numerous times to adjust my reeds, following different methods without any real success. Using just a few light strokes as recommended in this article, I've made stuffy hollow reeds my primary players. Awesome!

The tricky part is to be able to identify the problem in the quality of tone or response of the reed and to be patient, removing little material between each play testing.
 

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Thanks Victor. That's very helpful. I've always adjusted reeds intuitively (read, seat of the pants method), but being unscientific it's a hit and miss thing. This will really make a difference for me.
 

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You're welcome. We need to thank Professor John Anderson from the University of Minnesota though. There's a link on the page with his contact info. ;)

I find myself adjusting the low range area in diagram #3 and the V shaped area in diagram #4 most of the time but it may be different depending on your piece and reeds. Diagram #2 is helpful if you do the tip balancing test and find that one side sucks. One or two light passes with reed rush in any of these area make a very significant difference for me.

It's a very methodical way and not too complicated to make reeds work. I've been breaking in some reeds for the last few days and most of them just plain sucked. Now all of them are at least good enough to practice on after spending literally a minute working on them. I'm sure as I get more experienced it will only get better.

And it doesn't cost $90. :twisted:
 

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I wish you could have had my clarinet teacher my 'Piggy' friend.
He taught me how to do all of this my second year of playing. I was ~11 or so at the time.
I teach it to all of my single reed students. They really like 'diagnosing' and 'fixing' their problem reeds.
Parents like it because they aren't spending quite so much on reeds for their kids.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I wish you could have had my clarinet teacher my 'Piggy' friend
Yeah me too. Nobody ever taught me this stuff. :crybaby:

I bet parents LOVE it. I sure do, reeds are too expensive to throw away.

Will this work with plastic reeds too? jk
No it won't. Whatever you do to a plastic reed it will never sound good. :twisted:
 

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I adjust my stuffy reeds by tossing them in the bin and getting a new one.
 

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You're welcome. We need to thank Professor John Anderson from the University of Minnesota though. There's a link on the page with his contact info. ;)

I find myself adjusting the low range area in diagram #3 and the V shaped area in diagram #4 most of the time but it may be different depending on your piece and reeds. Diagram #2 is helpful if you do the tip balancing test and find that one side sucks. One or two light passes with reed rush in any of these area make a very significant difference for me.

It's a very methodical way and not too complicated to make reeds work. I've been breaking in some reeds for the last few days and most of them just plain sucked. Now all of them are at least good enough to practice on after spending literally a minute working on them. I'm sure as I get more experienced it will only get better.

And it doesn't cost $90. :twisted:


Victor, I just read that page through again carefully and I'm not sure about something that I didn't see last night when I skimmed through it. He says the following:

The response of these off-center positions while playing "open" g should be compared. (The side of the reed being heard is that which is outside the mouthpiece.) If one side is found to be more resistant, this side should be lightly scraped in the area shown in Diagram 2.

After several playings, response comparisons should be made between ranges using the three octaves of g: lowest g, open g, and second register g.

The method he describes is for balancing reeds on a clarinet. Since clarinets and saxes have different fingering systems and clarinets don't have symetrical registers, you clearly can't perform this test on a sax by playing G because there are only 2 fingered G's. If he has a specific acoustical reason for choosing that note for the test, what note on the sax will be its equivalent? If the criteria is that the main balancing note should be the one that sounds when all the keys are fully open, then I suppose you would first balance on C#2 and then compare that to the two other C#s. The only problem is that C#3 is also fully open on a sax, unlike on a clarinet, but maybe that doesn't matter. Any ideas about this, or anyway, what note are you using?

BTW, I read a balancing method elsewere (can't remember where) in which you test for the same thing by playing with the mouthpiece tilted off the horizontal axis (in relation to the line of your lips) first to one side and then to the other. Since the reed is at an angle, your embouchure only presses against the lower half, thus allowing you to compare the response of the two sides.
 

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This is the same approach I used for many years (I too was taught it by my clarinet teacher, at the age of 13).

A couple of years ago I bought the ATG reed finishing system (Tom Ridenour's invention), and it was a revelation. Understand, I was very successful at working on reeds, I played about 75% of the reeds I bought. And they played well. But this approach always left me with questions (like "why does a reed that doesn't show a good heart when looking through it play so well?"), and I didn't always feel I understood what I was doing.

By contrast, the ATG system is very simple to use, and gives wonderful results. I spend less than 5 minutes per reed, usually just adjusting it straight out of the box, with maybe 1 other "touch up" after a couple playing sessions.

The real point of the system is not the tool used to finish the reeds (although it is a very good design), it is in the very specific playing tests that are used to diagnose the reeds' performance. Much better than "if the sound is dark and hollow, adjust here" approach.

This is not to say that Professor Anderson's method is incorrect - it isn't. Applied properly it works. But as a seasoned (that is, ancient...) user of a very similar approach, I can only say that the ATG system is much easier to use and gives better results. For someone that doesn't know how to adjust reeds, or just throws non-playing reeds away, this system would be very useful.

Please note that I am not connected with Tom Ridenour in any way, other than being an extremely satisfied customer.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've been using B because that's what I tune to.

I sent an email to the author to thank him and ask a few questions about applying the concept to saxophone reeds, more specifically about note choices.
 
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