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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001087.txt from 2001/02

Subj: Re: [kl] Warped reeds
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 14:29:16 -0500

At 07:51 PM 2/28/01 +0100, you wrote:
> > Howard Klug wrote:
> > >NEVER put a wet reed to dry on a flat, impervious surface like a
> > >glass plate. This causes the top of the reed to dry quickly (it is
> > >exposed to the air) and the bottom to dry much later (as it is not exposed
> > >to the air). Any time you take a piece of wood this thin and dry it
> > >unevenly on its two sides, the reed is guaranteed to suffer internal
> > >stresses, often causing the bottom to become convex as the rails pull off
> > >the glass plate as they dry first.

>David wrote:
>The reed warping on glass seems to depend on whether the pores are closed yet
>or not.

One method of reed making suggests - prior to cutting the vamp and
following cutting the reed to the correct dimensions -

William Stubbins writes:

"The blank should fist be well wet with saliva, and laid flat side up on
the large glass plate, and allowed to dry. It should then be wet again
with saliva, laid against the glass on the flat side and allowed to
dry. This process should be repeated three times."

"After the three time wetting and drying, the reed should be wet with
saliva again, and placed flat side against the glass, and this flat side
observed through the glass. it will be easy to determine the flatness
characteristics of the blank, since the wetness will touch the glass where
the flat surface is sflat, and there will be dry spots observable where the
wet surface of the reed does not touch the glass. This test for flatness,
will permit the maker to judge the further degree of preparation necessary,
and to determine the general amount of sanding that will be required to
attain a flat surface."

"If the reed blank is badly warped, that is, if it touches the glass only
in the middle, and is bowed up at both ends, or if it touches only at the
ends, and is bowed in the middle, it may be that an additional wetting and
drying, with a small weight placed on the reed blank, will correct this
difficulty. If the blanks seems to be badly warped after trying this
technique, it is best to discard it, since the amount of sanding required
will proabably yield a reed blank too thin to properly make a good reed."

Stubbins then says that the blank is sanded and sized (to about 2.8 mm)
prior to cutting the vamp, and the final polishing step is with 600A
sandpaper - followed by newsprint.

John Mohler taught similarly but changed the process a little. He
incorporated the curing process with the thickness dimensioning. His

Size the blank (dimensionally) and sand it to thickness dimensions (3.20
mm) and then begin the curing process by doing the following:

Day 1: Sand with 320 followed by 600. Wet with saliva, and dry with the
flat side on the glass.
Day 2: Sand with 600 only and wet with saliva. Again, dry on glass with
the flat side on the glass.
Day 3: Sand with 600 followed with newsprint - continue with the vamp cut
and tip work. Play test.

I used to make my reeds the way John Mohler taught, and never had a reed
warp. I began buying Vandoren V12's when they came out (because of the
thicker blanks), and simply adapted the curing process to the commercial
reeds without touching the tip of the reeds. I do have reeds warp
sometimes - but rarely - and, as Stubbins mentioned - I just throw them
away after sanding them does not solve the problem. I personally believe
they would warp regardless of how they are stored - this is because I store
them differently after they warp. I do allow them to dry flat side up -
sitting on a hard surface such as glass or my reed table. They still warp.

I do not have many reeds warp - and I store virtually all of them on glass.

If reeds that are not cured in a manner similarly to what Stubbins, Mohler,
and I have described, I cannot claim that reeds will not warp if placed on
glass. In fact, if curing is not part of the process for breakin of reeds,
it is my opinion that reeds have a high liklihood of warping - regardless
of how they are stored. However, drying on glass may contribute to the
warpage of uncured reeds.

Best wishes,
Roger Garrett

Roger Garrett
Clarinet Professor
Director, Symphonic Winds
Advisor, Recording Services
Illinois Wesleyan University
School of Music
Bloomington, IL 61702-2900
(309) 556-3268

"A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes
Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825)

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