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 Wetting the reed
Author: TomD 
Date:   2007-08-31 12:56

This has probably been discussed before but some people say that they wet the entire reed and some say they only wet above the vamp. What are the thoughts on this?

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: BobD 
Date:   2007-08-31 13:10

Wet the entire reed by holding in one's mouth while assembling the instrument.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: kilo 
Date:   2007-08-31 13:30

It was always my belief that the only part of the reed which mattered for sound production was the freely vibrating part from the tip to the start of the facing curve and that wetting the reed before playing simply sped up a process which would happen naturally if you just used a dry reed and played on it for a few minutes.

If true, there would be no reason to saturate the entire reed, a few minutes soaking the part above the vamp would be enough. (The literature which comes with Rovner ligs however suggests soaking for over an hour, and by that time the whole reed will be wet.)

But, according to other players, it's not that simple. There seems to be a widespread belief that the entire reed is active in the production of sound — this is why some people claim to have such different results using different ligatures. I've never been fully convinced that this is the case, but for me it's moot since I've happily switched over to synthetics. (I've never discovered quantifiable differences in the performance of different ligatures which can conclusively exclude other mitigating factors nor have I ever seen objective scientific tests on ligs or degrees of wetness in cane reeds.)

Best thing in your case would be to conduct a few simple experiments and report back your findings.

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2007-08-31 13:46

Here's how I understand it:

If you wet only the vamp, then play play play, the butt end of the reed will draw the moisture which is continuously around the tip down into it. This uneven "humidity" can cause the reed to warp. Best to start with the whole reed equally wet.

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2007-08-31 14:47

I just lick the vamp and table of the reed for a few seconds. Moisture on the table is important even for synthetic reeds because it fills in all the microscopic gaps between the reed and mouthpiece.

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2007-08-31 16:28

Well, soaking a reed in a bottle one finds that it floats so not all of it sits in the water. I begin the process by dunking the butt for a moment and then letting the reed sit vamp down for 2 to 5 minutes before playing. My reeds have been lasting FOREVER with this routine.

Dear Kilo,

Also one may miss out on a LOT in life looking merely for quantifyable answers. I have found more satisfaction, louder volume and more compliments from peers consistantly with some ligatures over others. There are no numbers....just results.

.............Paul Aviles

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: hans 
Date:   2007-08-31 16:52

Wet the entire reed.

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: kilo 
Date:   2007-08-31 17:05

Dear Paul,

You are wise to consider results and I don't doubt your experience or the perception of your listeners. I own a few ligs and don't find any appreciable difference other than ease of centering the reed. I retain an interest in seeing the results of well-designed double-blind experiments with precisely measured variables; I just like that sort of thing, and would feel as if I were missing a lot without the scientific method.

When I experimented with soaking the entire reed I had a vial with a cap which allowed me to keep the reed totally submerged.

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: susieray 
Date:   2007-08-31 17:24

I soak the whole reed in a little bowl of water; the entire reed is
dunked under, and from there it floats....since I've got the
whole thing wet on both sides and both ends it seems to work fine....

But the only time I bother with soaking is when I've opened a new box.
I'm playing each of them for the very first time. I'll soak one for five
minutes, then play it for five minutes while the next one is soaking,
and so on through the whole box (each reed gets soaked for only five minutes that way).

I'm generally too lazy to do this every time I play. So from then
on I'll just pop the vamp end of whichever reed I'm using into my
mouth while I'm putting the clarinet together.

I would say try it both ways, do whatever works for you and don't
worry about what anyone else does.


Post Edited (2007-08-31 22:05)

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2007-08-31 18:20

You've never experienced a difference in ligatures??????

Now mind you that doesn't mean that Drucker can't play a stock buffet ligature and still play amazingly well, but I've always found that different ligatures yield different responses even if slight.


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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: BobD 
Date:   2007-08-31 21:50

Ligatures do make a difference in my experience. And most recently I'm really high on the vandoren Optimum which gives me better results than any I've previously used.,. Soaking for an hour.....I would never do it.....either in water or my mouth.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: kilo 
Date:   2007-09-01 10:03

(with apologies for introducing the topic!)

David, I find that some ligatures are easier to set up — easier to find the "sweet spot" — but objective comparison of differing responses eludes me. If I have one clarinet, one reed, and several ligatures to test I have to change set-ups sequentially and each time the reed may be in a slightly different location and altered playing condition. If I prefer one ligature to another — or have lots of money invested in it — it may even influence my attitude toward playing and I don't know how to exclude this possible source of subjectivity.

So without devoting a significant amount of practice time to this experiment in order to get a large enough base of experience, ideally over weeks or months, I hesitate to credit any perceived response on my part to the ligature alone. I find this true on tenor sax as well where the larger tip opening and wider table might be expected to magnify differences in response.

Different mouthpieces, different ligatures, different embouchures, different reeds, different humidity, different horns, different room acoustics = too many variables. I sound best on the set up that I consistently use the most, and when I practiced everyday on a stock Selmer (in good working condition) I'd never think to blame my shortcomings on the ligature.

The advertising hype assures me that trying the new "X" ligature will make my altissimo effortless, make my response even over the entire range, make more reeds playable for a longer time, etc — and I've just never found that to be the case. I know, I haven't tried the right ones! It's great that other players have found ligatures that make such a dramatic difference in their sound; I'm just cautious about ascribing subtle tonal differences solely to a particular ligature when there are so many other influences at work.

As posted above, "...do whatever works for you and don't worry about what anyone else does."

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 Re: Wetting the reed
Author: BobD 
Date:   2007-09-02 13:53

Interesting that you believe a ligature you never tried won't do anything for you and that you don't consider that you might sound better than your current best.
But, hey, that's your prerogative.

Bob Draznik

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