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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000627.txt from 1999/01

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Reed question
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 14:16:00 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Ryan Bassette <>
Date: Thursday, January 14, 1999 10:16 AM
Subject: [kl] Reed question

>I have a problem. I decided to spend 12 bucks at the local music store for
>a box of ten vandoren strength 3 reeds (couldn't sell me any singles).
>Basically I wanted to see if there was a difference between these and the
>cheapo Rico bottom lines I had been using(also strength 3). I got home and
>soaked a few and tried to blow on them and alas I get more breath noise
>than anything else and, eventually, a headache. Apparently these are
>stronger reeds than what I'm used to and now I'm wondering if I can salvage
>these by some sort of treatment or breaking in. Now I'm not even sure why I
>insisted on the 3's as opposed to 2's (which the guy in the store
>suggested). I figured it would be more of a 'workout' and thus lend itself
>to quicker development but obviously if I get so discouraged with my tone
>that I throw the horn out the window I've completely defeated the purpose.
>Oh well, I'm hoping there is something I can do with these things to make
>them playable, any advice would be welcomed!!
>Premed KSC NH

Vandorens do indeed run harder than Ricos. The 3 in a Vandoren will be
about equal to a Rico 3 1/2.

Keep the Vandorens as eventually you will need something a little stiffer
anyway than what you are currently using for good tone in the upper clarion
and the altissimo. In the mean time, you can buy some softer ones (2 1/2
would be about equal to the Rico 3).

Also here are some tips to help with the reeds and improving your sound.

1. Polish the backs of the reeds by rubbing the reed on a piece of typing
2. Lightly "sand" the face of the reed with a piece of typing paper or reed
3. Practice with just the reed, mouthpiece and barrel and blow hard. Blow
from deep in your abdomen using the diaphragm muscles. Your stomach should
be working when you play. Work towards getting good, solid projection.
Later you can work on control and softness.
4. You may be "pinching" with your embouchure a bit since you are
accustomed to a softer reed. Try to let the reed do more of the work.
5. Build up to it gradually. Play the stiffer reed for a while at the
beginning of a practice session. When your embouchure tires, or you start
to get winded, or start to get a headache, switch to one of the softer reeds
for the balance of the practice session.

The Rico 3 will tend to give you a harsh, shrill sound in the altissimo
register (above the 2nd ledger line above the staff) as a person will often
end up "pinching" the reed to try to get up to pitch.

When you do go up in reed strength, it is normal to sound airy in the low
notes until your breath support improves. The headache is probably coming
from the fact that you are using up the air in the upper portion of your
lungs but not getting good air into the lower portion of the lungs.

Good luck,

Dee Hays
Canton, SD

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