Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I buy my reeds a bit on the hard side and sand them down to optimal strength. I use 1200 sandpaper, but that takes a while. What do you use? BTW, my reeds have become much better since I started to flatten and adjust them.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
41,472 Posts
first of all I already use reeds which are very close to my size, then I use a scraping knife and then I finish either with the same kind of sandpaper or with a canoe whetstone ( sometimes I even lightly touch up the tip with it)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician.
Joined
·
3,261 Posts
I don't like the idea of using abrasive papers which may leave behind some of the abrasive.
Different types using different grading systems but 1200 sounds too fine to me. I'd be looking at 400 perhaps.

I just use a small sharp knife - like a scalpel blade size. That allows for small adjustments. No grit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
I noticed that if I choose a really good reed from the box, it does not need any treatment.
After every playing time I wipe reed in a cloth, rubbing it with a cloth (I call it natural polishing and impregnation), next I keep them always in Rico reed guard. It keeps them in good condition longer in my opinion.
But if I want to do a little adjustment (on those new but worse for me sounding), I use a tool with "scalpel" blades (replaceable tips).
Whenever I had used the sandpaper (400-600), I had the impression that reed dulls and works shorter.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
8,275 Posts
If you want to maintain the 'texture' of the cane rather than 'polishing' the reed, you would have to no higher than 200 grit and stroke only along the axis of the reed rather than across.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,616 Posts
Hi, I buy my reeds a bit on the hard side and sand them down to optimal strength. I use 1200 sandpaper, but that takes a while. What do you use? BTW, my reeds have become much better since I started to flatten and adjust them.
Are you serious? 1200 grit???!!!???!!!

That's for fine sanding of automotive lacquers between coats, or the last finishing of a metal part before polishing. It will load up with wood almost instantly.

I would say 400 is the very finest that would remove enough reed material to be useful, within the current geological epoch. If I used sandpaper I would probably use 280 wet or dry paper.

But you can remove more material faster, with far better controllability and better surface finish, by scraping. Ask any woodworker. For reeds I use a small penknife (I prefer the Swiss Army brand of very small knife - I guess the blade is about 1.5" long - but any small pocket knife would work). I have one in each saxophone case.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
27,196 Posts
… I buy my reeds a bit on the hard side and sand them down to optimal strength.
Which is not how reed strength is determined. The numbering of reeds is based on the strength of the cane fiber used to produce them. You don't make a three reed by sanding down a four.

What you are doing is degrading a properly numbered reed which will necessarily shorten its useful life when whittled down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,031 Posts
I've been using 600 for yrs. It starts out being a little rough but after a few uses it mellows out nicely. Make sure you have a piece of glass underneath for a flat surface. Also, let your reeds dry for 5 mins before sanding so you don't clog the sandpaper with wet reed. You may need an old toothbrush to get that off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
525 Posts
I use 600, and typically only use it to flatten the heel. Java greens are consistent enough that I don't usually have to fuss with them much, especially with the new tenor piece I recently acquired. Well, it's 30-40 years old, new to me though.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,432 Posts
I use my pocket knife on every new reed. I buy them as soft as I can find (#2) and still adjust every one of them. No special tool and I don't try to flatten the backs . . . merely scrape the vamps with the blade, rinse, test, scrape, repeat until I like how the reed responds. DAVE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,005 Posts
I use 600 grit with a light touch on 5"x7"x 3/8" plate glass on reeds that need doctoring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Makita belt sander, 60 grit...wait, that's only with Rico orange box.

But seriously, I have used various grits, 400 is fine ...have used coarser on occasion...as a woodworker I don't think there's a magic grit but it's more about hand pressure and if you can isolate the areas you want to treat without collateral damage. Biggest problem can be knowing how much you're taking off. And what reeds are we talking about? Sanding a soprano reed is kind of difficult (the clamps keep slipping off..)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,560 Posts
800-1000 grit wet/dry for the 42 years I've been adjusting reeds.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,561 Posts
Except for the fact that I've been sanding down #4 and #5 Ricos, Hemke, Rico Royals, and La Voz H for 30 years with small square pieces of black 220 wet or dry sandpaper with superb results. The reed strength is determined by where the heart of the reed is relative to the tip. Softer reeds have more tip area to allow the reed to buzz more easily, so sanding a reed simply means you want to move the front edge of the heart further back from the tip to free up the tip to buzz more. You don't ever want to sand the actual heart or the tip proper. This will immediately destroy your reed. Rather, move the transition zone BETWEEN the heart and tip further back to allow the heart a bit more freedom to buzz.

Which is not how reed strength is determined. The numbering of reeds is based on the strength of the cane fiber used to produce them. You don't make a three reed by sanding down a four.

What you are doing is degrading a properly numbered reed which will necessarily shorten its useful life when whittled down.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
27,196 Posts
Except for the fact that I've been sanding down #4 and #5 Ricos, Hemke, Rico Royals, and La Voz H for 30 years with small square pieces of black 220 wet or dry sandpaper with superb results.
While they last, I suppose.

I just buy quality reeds at the proper strength. Suck on 'em for a bit, then use them till they die; which can be a very, very long time.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,644 Posts
I agree with Grumps about buying reeds that are too hard and sanding them down. That makes no sense at all, considering the fact that you can't weaken the reed fibers by sanding them; all you'll do is degrade the reed. That doesn't mean a reed that is only slightly too hard can't be improved by sanding or scraping. It can. But only if it's close to the desired strength to begin with.

I only find the need to adjust some reeds, not all. But some do come around with a bit of adjustment. The real duds seem to remain duds.

Recently I found out about the Vandoren reed resurfacer. It's a frosted glass plate that can be used like sandpaper, but it doesn't wear out. And a small frosted glass wand that can be used for fine adjustments on the top surface of the reed. It's expensive, but I couldn't resist, so I got it. Seems to work well, but I haven't had it long enough to know for certain if it's worth the price (at least you won't have to keep replacing sandpaper, assuming that's what you use):

https://www.wwbw.com/Vandoren-Glass...MIhdXcjpfY4QIVEdRkCh2i7woUEAAYASAAEgILePD_BwE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
412 Posts
I use a ReedGeek scraper. I was very sceptical before I got it, but it is great for flattening the bottom of the reed or for taking small amounts from the top - easier to use than a knife.
I also use 400 grade sandpaper if I feel like it.
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top