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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000159.txt from 2001/05

From: "Gene Nibbelin" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Reed Life
Date: Fri, 4 May 2001 17:30:57 -0400

Tarmo -

I have to admire you for selecting such a difficult subject for your
doctoral thesis. There are so many variables involved in what you are
trying to quantify that you may be on a hopeless quest. You may have the
same expression that we have here in the States: "Like trying to nail
Jell-O (gelatin) to the wall".

As a brief example, in my case I returned to clarinet playing as a retiree
in 1996 after a 40+ years hiatus; I practice 2-3 hours a day for my own
amusement (it's my golf); take 2 hour lessons every 2 weeks,; use a 60 year
old mouthpiece (1.02 tip) on 2 year old Leblancs; changed to double-lip
embouchure last year and use 3 1/2 Vandoren V-12s reeds. Not bragging, but
I have a fairly good professional tone.

The point of this: I get 7 or 8 out of a 10 reed box of 3 1/2 Vandoren V12s
that are very playable. Not all "performance quality" but, after I have
pre-treated them, done some sanding to balance and to remove warpage from
the back of the reed as needed, I end up with a lot of good reeds. I am
currently alternating among 7 reeds. 5 are performance quality (for me) and
2 are still good practice reeds.

In contrast, my teacher, who plays professionally in several symphony
orchestras, gets only 2 or 3 Vandoren 3 1/2 V12 reeds out of 10 that he
considers acceptable. Granted, that he doesn't have the time to work on the
reeds that I do as a retiree-not that I have to spend a lot of time working
on the reeds. I used reeds in my last two lessons that were initially
rejects out of the box. At both lessons, I was complemented on my tone and
the responsiveness of the reeds.

I've mentioned all this to illustrate in a practical way all the many
variables with which you are dealing.

Tarmo, e-mail me off list if you would like more details on how I "treat"
reeds and my opinion regarding the effect of "double-lipping" on the ability
to adjust the embouchure to a variety of reed characteristics. There is
nothing exclusive about my reed treatment as I have gotten all my ideas from
numerous professionals on the Klarinet List. It's all in the archives.

I also admire your knowledge of the English language and am sorry I can't
reply in Estonian, but I have enough trouble with English (American)

Best wishes,

Gene Nibbelin
Cape Coral, Florida

-----Original Message-----
From: Tarmo Pajusaar []
Subject: Re: [kl] Reed Life

This is partially what I'm concerned with in my doctoral thesis. The most
hard part is to find more or less measurable physical criteria to follow.
And it goes back to the question like what kind of reed is considered "good"
by players or, in other words, what properties make reed a good one. Then
changes in those properties could be followed. While there probably are as
many opinions as there are clarinetists, some similarities in changes of
those properties could still be present.
I haven't tried to measure how long my reeds last, but 20-30 hours sounds
reasonable for me.

Tarmo Pajusaar
Tallinn, Estonia

----- Original Message -----
From: "fpg" <>
Subject: [kl] Reed Life

> I've been curious about how long a reed actually lasts, i.e.. actual
> playing time. For the past seven months, I kept a "reed journal,"
> recording actual playing time from those 5, 10, and 15 minute periods
> when breaking in until the reed was IMO no longer playable. I used as
> ending criteria rasping/buzzing sound in chalameau, uneven or failed
> response above E4, and having the reed "stop sounding" particularly in
> clarion. (I realize that these criteria are rather subjective). My
> average playing time is about 1 1/2 hours a day using Black Master #3.
> In this framework, I am averaging slightly over 29 hours playing time
> per reed. I'd be interested in hearing other players ideas or comments
> on reed longevity. Frank
> Frank P. Galiani
> Bloomington, Indiana
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