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Any of you guys work with reeds? I have a box of probably 300-400 reeds sitting in a corner. For the last 15 years everytime I get a reede that doesn't work for me I put it in the box thinking it might be good later. Most of the time when I go to the box to find a reed though I'm not happy with them and go out and buy a new box. I can't bring myself to throw them away. Are any of you experienced reed gurus that can give me advice on how to work with them? Thanks, steve
 

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I will use a reed rush to make them softer but that's it. I rarely do that even preferring to just break my reeds in playing them. I also have a box like you speak of. Mine is a cigar box full of reeds. Many of them are old brands or sizes I don't use anymore.
 

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Far from an experienced guru, but the Ridenour ATG system works great for me. Its paid for itself many times over now in rescued reeds

I went through a new box of 10 rico royals last night.

3 were great right away,
4 were "okIguess", but after a bit of sanding and balancing were as good as the 3 good ones
2 were very stuffy, but I was able to keep sanding them to the point they are playable, and with a bit more work might be good for use
1 was a total plank.

ATG is dead simple, I've never trashed a reed with it, the instructions are simple, the process is simple, and the results astonishing. The more you do it, the better the results get too.
 

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A repeat . . . I soak a new reed then play it. It will envariably be too hard and/or unresponsive. It is rare indeed when a new reed will play for me without any adjusting.

With the reed still affixed to the mouthpiece, I use a sharp pocketknife and scrape the vamp. I brace the mouthpiece (whole horn - straight sop) or neck (alto) against the tiles on the front of my kitchen sink, putting the reed up. The mouthpiece
's beak serves as a stop so the mouthpiece doesn't slide around.

I hold the sharp blade perpendicular to the reed's vamp and scrape off a little wood from the center of the vamp, rinse the whole assembly under the tap, and play it again. I keep doing this until the reed comes into playing form. The scrapings will look like fine wet sawdust.

Be careful not to scrape too much off; be careful of the tip of the reed; be careful of the sides of the reed; and for sure, be careful of your mouthpiece rails.

By doing this I can play almost every reed in a box. No fancy tools, either. DAVE
 

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Dave Dolson said:
Be careful not to scrape too much off; be careful of the tip of the reed; be careful of the sides of the reed; and for sure, be careful of your mouthpiece rails.
My, thats a lot of taking care:)
 

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Steve,

I have a ATG that I'm no longer using. I tried it at first on Legere reeds and had good results. However, now that I have such a good match between my current mouthpieces and Legere reeds I'm able to play all of them right out of the box.

If you're interested in the ATG you're welcome to borrow mine and see if you like it. Then if you do, you can have it for cheap....else send it back. I don't think I'm going to use it again.

Roger
 

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How does the system work and how is it different from sanding and scraping with a knife? I do pretty much the same as Dave, sometimes I'll lightly sand the flat side and, very occasionally, on a reed that doesn't respond, I'll work on different areas until it either plays better or I destroy it. Mostly I just scrape a bit from the heart. It's the really stuffy ones that irritate me and they're the ones that will get the complete treatment to destruction. I never work on reeds until I've given them a good few days to work in, it's amazing how they will sometimes just blossom.
 

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I've noticed that there's not a lot of talk about "finishing" the reeds in these threads: I was taught that you have to finish your reed pretty much every time you play it--after some sort of soaking/moistening--by rubbing it with something smooth like high quality paper (money) or (my choice) your fingernail.

I don't play until my reed is super smooth on the top side.

Rory
 

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Why the top side? Its not in contact with either the air stream or the table or facing? Smoothness shouldnt make a bit of difference to playability?

I rub new ones smooth on the back (flat side) on a sheet of paper.

When Im first playing in a reed and balancing it I will give the top one quick straight against the grain rub with the fine sanding block....I find that the slight thinning of the tip that results from that helps low end response, but mainly its because I dont like the rough feel of the current rico royals on my lip more than anything else...

After that I leave it alone unless it needs some more side to side balancing or overall thinning down.
 

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JimD said:
How does the system work and how is it different from sanding and scraping with a knife?
If we told you all about it then we would be ripping off Tom Ridenours intelectual property that he's selling.

In general terms the kit provides the materials to be able to sand reeds from the front tip to the back "against the grain", without damaging them, but the main usefull information is in his teaching how to determine how and where to sand to get a good result nearly all the time.

Its not rocket science...I had one of those "slap my head why didnt I think of that on my own" experiences... but then all the best ideas are dead simple at heart. I will say its been well worth the $30 I spent on picking it up.
 

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Canadiain said:
Why the top side? Its not in contact with either the air stream or the table or facing? Smoothness shouldnt make a bit of difference to playability?
Good question! I have no idea, but it works, I guess.

I finish the flat side too, but I really like to get the top super smooth. Maybe it somehow keeps the reed nice and playable over the course of an extended playing session?

Rory
 

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rleitch said:
Good question! I have no idea, but it works, I guess.

I finish the flat side too, but I really like to get the top super smooth. Maybe it somehow keeps the reed nice and playable over the course of an extended playing session?

Rory
I also like to get the top side nice and smooth before I consider a reed broken in. I find the reeds last longer if the top side is nice and smooth, and it feels better in my mouth.
 

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Maybe it just makes it harder for moisture to get into the end of the reed fibres and slows down the break down?

Ive a vague recollection of reading something like that on the Alexander website or somewhere regarding prepping reeds...rubbing them smooth with your thumb?
 

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I was taught to smooth the top. It's supposed to be something to do with helping absorption but I never figured out what that was really meant to do. I do it automatically. At the very least it makes it more comfortable to play. The ATG system costs a bit more than $30 these days and I don't expect Tom's secrets to be given away, it would just be a bit more encouraging to have a bit more information but maybe that bit more is what it's about. I guess I'll stick to scraping and smoothing. I get most reeds to work anyway without wasting too much time.
 

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The theory is that by smoothing out the shoulder and the vamp, the "tubes" of the cane are sealed off, making the reed less susceptible to humidity variations.
 

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Oh, it was more than $30 when I got it. No one said you have to buy a new one;) People here sell them from time to time, and there is ebay of course.

Even at full price, if you dont have a plan right now it would pay for itself in no time in good reeds. I find I do more harm then good armed with a knife...I cant do too much harm with the sanding block. But then I'm a clutz:)

I guess the key to the ATG is the video / DVD component. Its just easy to understand when you can watch him do his thing over and over and hear the differences he is talking about.
 

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Whaddya mean? I've managed to do plenty of harm with a sanding block.
 

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JimD said:
Whaddya mean? I've managed to do plenty of harm with a sanding block.
And therein lies the other genius part of the ATG..... With it you can sand straight into the tip, against the grain, and not trash the reed.
 

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rleitch said:
Good question! I have no idea, but it works, I guess.

I finish the flat side too, but I really like to get the top super smooth. Maybe it somehow keeps the reed nice and playable over the course of an extended playing session?

Rory
Isn't the flat side on top when you play?
 
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