You’re only as good as your best reed…

(Click on the “Reeds & Reedmaking” category on the lower right-hand side of this page for more reed info.)

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that we depend on good reeds. We need reeds that play comfortably in tune, allow control over nuances (smoothly initiating and releasing the sound, adjusting the pitch, tapering the dynamics, etc.), and have a warm but penetrating sound.

Adjust the wires to change the reed’s resistance. Flatten both the first and second wires to allow the reed to blow more freely and lower the pitch. Or, round both the first and second wires to increase the reed’s resistance and raise the pitch. Since you can always put the wires back where they were, try different wire adjustments to see what works.

Two areas to consider are the tip and the back of the reed blades. Using some #400 grit wet/dry sandpaper, gently sand the tip of each blade to improve response and flexibility. Take your file and remove a little cane from the sides of the back of each blade to improve the low register and open up the sound. For a little reed theory, here is Terry Ewell’s article about reed design:

Ewell_PedagogyFinishingReeds

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