Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Barrick Stees, Bassoon

Making Reeds

SELECTING COMMERCIAL BASSOON REEDS

  1. Reed Sources
  2. Criteria for selection
  3. Common Adjustments

Recommended Brands: (get these from the sources below)

Vigder, Shape C

Sources:

Vigder’s Bassoon Supplies
Homepage: www.vigderreed.com
Email: vigderreeds@yahoo.com
20430 Malden Street
Winnetka, California
91306-1347
747-224-0224
10am - 6pm Daily
Try the “C” shape. Many others available

Criteria for selection:

  1. Workmanship
    1. The tip opening should be a symmetrical almond shape with the widest point being in the middle.
    2. The tip should be clean with no fraying, jagged edges or cracks.
    3. The wrapping should be tight with no loose ends.
    4. The wires should be snug or just a little loose. They will tighten as the cane is soaked.
  2. Hardness
    1. When a choice of hardness is given, I recommend medium to medium hard reeds regardless of the student’s level. Soft reeds accomplish little for beginners and often delay development of tone and breath support.
  3. Tests (soak reed for 3-5 minutes in lukewarm tap water)
    1. “Pop Test”
      Cover the tube end of reed with index finger and suck air out of the blades with lips. Pull reed out of mouth and reed should pop as blades open. This indicates a well-constructed, air-tight reed. If reed does not pop, soak again and try test. If still unsuccessful, glue the seams of the blades between wires or press a little wax into the seams inside the tube.
    2. Crow
      1. Putting reed in mouth so that lips are on the first wire, blow into reed with enough force to produce a multi-phonic sound. Too much or too little force will result in a single tone.
      2. While crowing multi-phonic, squeeze reed a little tighter to distill crow into one tone. This tone should be an E or F above middle C on the piano.
    3. Shading
      Place reed (soaked or unsoaked) under a light and observe the contrast of light and dark shade in the blade area. The ideal shading should be similar to a “bullet” or “thumbnail” shape silhouette with gradual changes from light to dark throughout.

Common Adjustments for Bassoon Reeds

Wires:

Always try to solve problems by adjusting the wires first, because any adjustment made can be reversed if the desired effect is not achieved! Below is a trouble-shooting guide for better reeds with wire adjustments.

Assume a well-soaked reed and a pair of pliers is handy. Wires should be tight after soaking, but not constricting the cane. After any adjustment the tip should be 1mm open at its center.

Tip too closed:
Squeeze first wire on sides.

Tip too open:
Squeeze the first wire on top and bottom.

Sharp pitch:
Squeeze second wire on top and bottom and/or first wire on sides

Flat pitch:
Squeeze second wire on sides and/or first wire on top and bottom

Poor response, stuffy sound:
Squeeze second wire on top and bottom, then first wire on top and bottom if tip too open.

E in staff breaks, reed buzzy:
Squeeze second wire on sides, first wire on sides if tip too closed. Or move first wire towards collar.

Need stronger high notes:
Squeeze second wire on sides, then first wire on sides if tip too closed.

Stronger low notes:
Squeeze second wire on top and bottom, then first wire on top and bottom if tip too open.

Better low note response:
Carefully slip first wire 1mm towards second.

Scraping Adjustments:

Sharp pitch:
Remove cane from tip area starting at 1mm from tip to tip itself. Check crow. When crow is an E or F, stop and play on reed.

Flat pitch:
Tip too long. Play on for five minutes. If pitch doesn’t rise, clip tip with razor blade, 1mm at a time until pitch is high enough.

Poor response, stuffy sound:
Remove cane from tip as in sharp pitch instructions. May also need to remove cane from area just in front of collar and heart.

E in staff breaks, reed buzzy:
Play on for five minutes. If E is still unstable, clip tip 1mm. If reed is still bright, trim rails of reed starting at tip and going as far back towards collar as needed.

Need stronger high notes:
Remove cane from the corners of the tip. Work as far back towards collar as needed, but avoid the back of the blade as scraping there will actually weaken high notes.

Stronger low notes:
Remove cane from back half of the blade.

Better low note response:
Remove cane from back half of the blade. Also scrape “oboe windows” in the back of the blade. These are two narrow areas to the left and right of the center spine of the blade, but not at the rail edge.