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 Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: cyso_clarinetist 
Date:   2003-03-27 01:51

I was recently asked to play bass so I bought reeds for the bass and I thought that perhaps I should break them in the way I break my Bb reeds in. My bass reeds came out absolutely awful! Does anyone know of a way to break in bass clarinet reeds or do you just leave them alone.

(let this be directed at people with real bass clarinet expierence.. no offense)

- james

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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: Robert Small 
Date:   2003-03-27 04:25

You might consider synthetic reeds on bass. I normally don't like synthetics but I have found the Fibracell brand reeds work well on bass. Response is very good and the sound is nearly as good as cane. Plus they are much less prone to squeaking and chirping than cane reeds.

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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: bob49t 
Date:   2003-03-27 06:09

I agree with RS. If your major playing is on soprano clarinet, at least consider the synthetic reed for bass, as you will want a consistent reed for occasional bass work. My experience is with Legere who do a "suck it and see" return and change scheme. Actually I do play a fair bit of bass and the same reed has done now for many months without showing signs of change. Synthetic reeds are not for everyone, but faced with a bass gig and selecting a decent cane reed from a box, I'd now go down the synthetic road (not for soprano where my newfound Gonzalez FOF's are wonderfully consistent). Other advantages of synthetic reeds are :-

economy, time saving on searching, no "fall off", easy to keep hygienic etc etc

For more advice and opinions check the BB strings and Yahoo bass clarinet board where this has been discussed thoroughly. :)


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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: msloss 
Date:   2003-03-27 12:46


You probably just got some bad reeds, or perhaps they need adjustment. I've actually found I get a better yield out of a box of bass reeds than soprano, and they last longer. Break them in with the same care and make sure they don't warp. If the cane is too green they just want to curl right up when they dry.

I'm playing on old-stock Vandies, so I can't comment on the quality of the new ones, but I've also had some good luck with new-stock Rico GCS. Don't cheap-out on the big reeds (basic Rico, LaVoz, etc.) or your sound and control will pay the price.



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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2003-03-27 13:53

cyso -

Larger reeds almost alwasy warp along the bottom, making the edges higher than the middle. This absolutely ruins the response. I'm not sure why it's worse than on smaller reeds -- perhaps because the larger bark-covered area doesn't expand and forces the reed to swell downward.

At any rate, I've found that it's essential to flatten the bottoms of bass (and contra) reeds. I use a very large (2-1/2" wide) fine cut flat file, but 400 grit wet-or-dry (black coat) sandpaper on a flat surface also works well.

Put your fingers only on the bark and the very top of the vamp and press fairly hard. Work until the bottom is shiny all over. Then press lightly and work the area toward the tip. Then find a newspaper page with a display ad that has lots of white space. Cut out a piece without any printing and give the bottom of the reed a final polish. (A plain cardboard postcard also works well.)

To leave room for this work, I buy bass and contra reeds one or even two strengths stronger than I play.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: William 
Date:   2003-03-27 14:24

If you take the time to find the correct strength Legere reed for you own mouthpiece--lots of trial and re-trial--it will do very well for you in your bass clarinetting. On my Grabner customized bass mouthpiece, I use a Legere 3.5 or 4.0. For VD cane reeds, I use 3.5's and treat them about the same as my soprano reeds. (But these numbers work for me--you need to discover the correct strength for Your own mpc)

While I prefer the sound quality and response of the cane reeds, the Legere reeds are always "ready to go" and sound almost as good. They are expecially great for those summer, out-of-doors "concerts in the parks" type green sheet gigs where cane tends to dry out (and all at the wrong times).

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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: Mike_M 
Date:   2003-03-27 14:52

I play bass occasionally and have to agree with Ken. Warping seems to be the issue with larger reeds. I use a fine-cut hand rasp (basically a file) and 200 grit sand paper to ensure that the reed is absolutely flat. The reed will need to be touched up once in a while and since this tends to thin out the tip, you'll need to dress it up with a reed clipper every now and then.

Other than that, I treat the bass reeds the same as soprano reeds. A reed holder with desiccant (I use Reed*Mate) and cleaning with peroxide/glycerin mixture or Reedlife will help with hygienic issues. Also, if you're doubling, a small bottle of water is handy to soak the reed if the bass will be setting idle for long periods of time.


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 Re: Breaking in Bass Clarinet Reeds
Author: clarinetmama 
Date:   2003-03-29 04:25

My stand partner in college wuld take her reed, place it on the music stand, and flick the fat part of it, it would make a boing boing kind of sound, and honestly took the warps out of the tip.

After thirty years of bass clarinet playing I still haven't mastered the art of breaking in a reed. I will resort to a platic reed, HORRORS, but in orchestra when you go many measures without playing, the reed does tend to dry out.


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