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 Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-01 19:08

I have not found a really reliable way to measure reed thicknesses in enough detail to map the profile of a specific reed or, using a large enough sample, of a typical (average?) reed of a given brand or model. I have a Perfecta-reed, but I'm not sure it's sensitive or reliable enough. And there is the inconvenience of having to move the gauge in or out each time I want to measure along a different set of points between the reed's edge and its midpoint. Having to manually reset the distance makes measuring any number of reeds cumbersome.

When I was very young, music stores had light tables we could use to screen reeds from open boxes to see which had well-shaped profiles and which had random dark areas that presumably wouldn't vibrate evenly. This process wasn't really reliably predictive, but it did cull out the worst pieces of cane in a box. I've seen people do this even recently by holding a reed up against a window. And everyone (except, from his videos, Tom Ridenour [wink]) holds a balky reed up to a lamp to see if there's an obvious imbalance in the thickness.

It seems to me that with today's digital scanning technology it ought to be possible to completely eliminate physical thickness gauges and visual guessing and profile a reed all at once by having a scanner above the reed and a light source below it, like those old light boards, but with a scanner and computer interface to produce reliable measurements. I find myself wondering if this has already been done by for reed designers and manufacturers but the equipment is too expensive to be marketed at a consumer level.

Has anyone heard of anything like this?

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2017-07-01 22:10

Do you mean something like these?

http://www.reedsnstuff.com/en/Clarinet/Measuring-Testing/

kdk wrote:

> I have not found a really reliable way to measure reed
> thicknesses in enough detail to map the profile of a specific
> reed or, using a large enough sample, of a typical (average?)
> reed of a given brand or model. I have a Perfecta-reed, but I'm
> not sure it's sensitive or reliable enough. And there is the
> inconvenience of having to move the gauge in or out each time I
> want to measure along a different set of points between the
> reed's edge and its midpoint. Having to manually reset the
> distance makes measuring any number of reeds cumbersome.
>
> When I was very young, music stores had light tables we could
> use to screen reeds from open boxes to see which had
> well-shaped profiles and which had random dark areas that
> presumably wouldn't vibrate evenly. This process wasn't really
> reliably predictive, but it did cull out the worst pieces of
> cane in a box. I've seen people do this even recently by
> holding a reed up against a window. And everyone (except, from
> his videos, Tom Ridenour [wink]) holds a balky reed up to a
> lamp to see if there's an obvious imbalance in the thickness.
>
> It seems to me that with today's digital scanning technology it
> ought to be possible to completely eliminate physical thickness
> gauges and visual guessing and profile a reed all at once by
> having a scanner above the reed and a light source below it,
> like those old light boards, but with a scanner and computer
> interface to produce reliable measurements. I find myself
> wondering if this has already been done by for reed designers
> and manufacturers but the equipment is too expensive to be
> marketed at a consumer level.
>
> Has anyone heard of anything like this?
>
> Karl



Post Edited (2017-07-01 22:19)

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: WhitePlainsDave 
Date:   2017-07-02 03:44

Not an area of knowledge for me Karl. And an interesting avenue to pursue if you want to better understand how manufacturers are cutting their brands.

Here's another device

http://www.reedwizard.com/PerfectAReed.html

I like this one because you can note the near exact point at which a measurement is taken with respect from the tip or butt of a reed, or either side.

(A measurement's only as good as knowing where you took it, right?)

That said, and with the caveat of admitting no knowledge of where you intend on taking this measuring Karl, I'd like to offer my 2 cents that I think reed duplicating (from a profile standpoint) machinery, (not measuring machinery, which Karl seeks) for those seeking to buy such things is a hunk of junk with respect to making copies of reeds that play identically.

If all you expect such a machine to do is copy contour, as you then adjust the reed as you might any purchased reeds, then okay.

Witness Vandoren cutting each reed of a brand (notice I didn't say strength) the same, within the tolerances of a human hair, likely better than the fresh blades of such a purchased machine can do, especially since manufactured reeds are always being cut quality tested. The reeds are then subject to a strength test, often a puff of air of constant air pressure, (not dissimilar in principle to a Optical Glaucoma testing machine) that notes how much the reed deflects, for purposes of categorizing the reed into its correct strength.

In short, the metaphorical "canvas" on which the reed cutter "paints" is different each time, as mother nature incorporates variability into cane.

Logic would deem that virtually identical cuts to different things yield different things. Even reeds cut from the same split piece of cylindrical cane.



Post Edited (2017-07-02 03:45)

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-02 04:46

Those are dial gauges, like Perfecta-reed. They measure discrete points on the reed's surface, and each point on each reed must be read one at a time. I'm interested in something that will scan an entire reed, analyzing (most likely by how much light gets through, but it could use some other more advanced property) the thickness of the cane at many more individual points, read simultaneously by a scanner of some kind. The end result, hopefully, would be a visual map of the reed's profile. Once you have such a digital map of a reed, you could compare it using software to other reeds to indicate differences.

But thanks for the URL. There are some interesting tools there.

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-02 05:02

WhitePlainsDave wrote:

> Here's another device
>
> http://www.reedwizard.com/PerfectAReed.html
>

Right. That's the one I mentioned, although I spelled it slightly differently. It's one of Ben Armato's products and does a useful job of locating imbalances in reed thickness from one side to the other.

> I like this one because you can note the near exact point at
> which a measurement is taken with respect from the tip or butt
> of a reed, or either side.
>
> (A measurement's only as good as knowing where you took it,
> right?)

The problem with PerfectaReed as well as the gauges on the Reeds 'n Stuff site Klose mentioned is that it's time-consuming to take each point one at a time. Also, I think the grid that Armato set up between the fixed distances along the length and the fixed positions marked to position the needle across the width are too far apart to make a really accurate, detailed description of a reed's profile.

>
> That said, and with the caveat of admitting no knowledge of
> where you intend on taking this measuring Karl, I'd like to
> offer my 2 cents that I think reed duplicating (from a profile
> standpoint) machinery, (not measuring machinery, which Karl
> seeks) for those seeking to buy such things is a hunk of junk
> with respect to making copies of reeds that play identically.
>

The problem with reed duplicators is that they only account for thickness but can't reproduce the cane's density in any given area. You need to know both to have any chance of duplicating a reed's response mechanically. But measuring the thickness in detail and recording it into a visual map would show the manufacturer's or designer's <i>intent</i> irrespective of the variability of the cane itself.

> Witness Vandoren cutting each reed of a brand (notice I didn't
> say strength) the same, within the tolerances of a human hair,
> likely better than the fresh blades of such a purchased machine
> can do, especially since manufactured reeds are always being
> cut quality tested.

Oh, I wish I were sure about the quality testing. Does anyone actually play those things at the factory?

> In short, the metaphorical "canvas" on which the reed cutter
> "paints" is different each time, as mother nature incorporates
> variability into cane.
>

Yes, I completely agree, but, still, it might be useful to know what they intend to "paint."

I'm not even sure what use could be made, at least by the player at the consumer level, of the information you'd get from 21st century scanning pf the sort I'm thinking about. But until it can be done, there's no real way to know.

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-07-02 05:05

Karl,

Email me at savagesax@aol.com

I can show you a lot of ways not to brag, but teach you how to become a reed wizard. Very little by measuring, partly by becoming aware of the cane quality, and most of all by playing on the reeds. Learning how to adjust reeds properly. It's a science. A feel. I do not think it is an art.

In short, if the cane is bad there isn't a thing you can do with it. However if the cane is good and it measures fine, but it doesn't play well I can teach you what to do, how to test the cane by playing on it, how to properly break in reeds.

I don't give this info out, but it is pretty darn important to know what you are doing. I often cringe when I see people working on reeds. For example they first dig into the heart of the reed. Well they just wrecked the reed. Time to throw it away. You just lost the high overtones and probably the high register. If you still have an upper register it most likely will play flat. Sure the reed vibrates now, but you wrecked the heart. I can save this reed though by clipping the tip and starting over, pretty much making a new reed. But players in general don't know how to do this. You then have to thin the tip first and only the tip area.

It's really pretty easy once you understand the basics. Then you will become very gifted at it in a short time.

A MUST book to have is by Fred Ormand. I will have it at the Clarinet show. You can also order it through him. I can give you his number off line or you can google him. I'm not sure if Fred will be there.

You don't have to spend a lot of money of special tools, gauges, anything. The Reed Dual that sells for $900 won't make your reeds perfect. It's all in the cane quality. A perfectly measuring reeds often sounds horrible, because the cane is the worst cane in the planet. This is what I can teach you. Another issue, lets say a reed measures fine, but doesn't play. This can be due to the fibers being too strong on one side. For example. Lets say you are right handed. Well your left side will be weaker. Your muscle FIBERS are weaker. Same with cane. You have to know how to adjust for this. Hope this helps! Lets talk off line.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: toffeeman3 
Date:   2017-07-02 05:20

As a rookie I bought a reed trimmer to get more life from my old reeds which has started to crack along the leading edge. Unfortunatley non of the play now.
What needs to be done to bring them back to life?
In general I am confused about reed filing in general and how to tell if I have a good or bad reed

07469847273

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-02 06:50

toffeeman3 wrote:

> What needs to be done to bring them back to life?

It sounds as if they're probably beyond bringing them back. The best way forward is to replace them with new reeds.

> In general I am confused about reed filing in general and how
> to tell if I have a good or bad reed
>

You tell a good reed from a bad one by playing on it. If it plays well, it's good. If almost nothing listenable comes out of it, it's bad. If it feels OK but not wonderful, it may be that a little bit of balancing may help it play better. You want the two sides of the reed to vibrate evenly - the same way on both the left and right sides. A very little careful, gentle scraping or sanding along the side that's stiffer - not, as Bob says, in the center (heart) area - can improve things. Of course, taking too much off or misjudging where to remove cane can ruin the reed and make a so-so one unplayable.

There are lots of articles in books and on line and videos on YouTube describing different approaches to adjusting reeds that don't play optimally, although the old advice of players of my teachers' generation was to figure out how to play on the reed you got rather than try to make the reed perfect and risk ruining it entirely.

Sometimes it's best to just throw bad reeds out and conserve your time for actual practice instead of spending it on trying to salvage them.

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-02 07:09

Bob Bernardo wrote:

> Karl,
>
> Email me at savagesax@aol.com
>
> I can show you a lot of ways not to brag, but teach you how to
> become a reed wizard. Very little by measuring, partly by
> becoming aware of the cane quality, and most of all by playing
> on the reeds. Learning how to adjust reeds properly. It's a
> science. A feel. I do not think it is an art.
>

Thanks, Bob. I know and greatly respect your knowledge and experience with reeds. I'm not thinking of this especially as an aid in reed adjustment. I don't actually have a definite purpose in mind. But I often find myself wondering why I hate playing on V.12s and find 56 Rue lepics more playable, what makes Luries play so much more easily for my students and why even they (my students) sound more thin and edgy on regular Ricos than on anything else they try. I'm just flat-out curious about what makes reeds tick (play). I'm curious about what in a reed's profile makes me like Steuer Exclusives and not like Steuer Classics (as I decided from trying the samples of each you so kindly supplied when I first wanted to try Steuers).

I might argue gently with you about science vs. art. I'm not sure "feel" is a valid part of scientific method or scientific process. I myself don't think reed adjustment is either one entirely - there are elements of both. I agree you don't need expensive tools or measuring apparatus to adjust reeds successfully.

When you design a reed for mass production (as I know you have), how do you arrive at the measurements that the cutting machines need to reproduce? Do you just start tinkering with something that already exists, or are there mathematical models that can provide a starting point depending on what you want the playing qualities of the resulting reed to be? Are today's cutting machines digital or do they follow a physical form the way a Reed Du-all does?

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: WhitePlainsDave 
Date:   2017-07-02 22:02

Karl wrote:


> Oh, I wish I were sure about the quality testing. Does anyone actually play
> those things at the factory?

Quality tested for cut consistency and cane quality, not (so much) playability.

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2017-07-06 06:07

Not for the faint of budget, but these types of devices continue to decrease in price
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T7nbS7Z5bY

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2017-07-06 17:24

I just did a search for 3D Scanner comparisons and saw a $1200 scanner listed with a .17 mm resolution reported. Not there yet IMO.

MojoMP.com
Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-06 17:30

Mojo wrote:

> I just did a search for 3D Scanner comparisons and saw a $1200
> scanner listed with a .17 mm resolution reported. Not there
> yet IMO.
>

Well, I guess it's something to watch. It the process of making mouthpieces on a 3-D printer, I assume the prototype mouthpieces are being scanned by some kind of 3-D scanner? Are those part of the printer, or separate?

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: WhitePlainsDave 
Date:   2017-07-07 01:37

Unrelated to the O.P.'s desire to simply inquire about measuring reeds, I'll concede that researching such precise machinery, as simply a curiosity thing is perfectly fine. Personally, I'm curious to know how the contours of various reeds of, say, Vandoren (i.e. a single vendor) differ from one another and how (likely science and trial and error) they came to be.

I'd be curious to know just how subtle a difference two different products from the same vendor where, wondering if the differences in cut were not so superseded by the inherent variability in cane. (Read: whether I'm being taken for a ride from a marketing standpoint.)

Fair shoutout to Vandoren: V21's are made with larger diameter cane, right? I think its fair they market that as a premium thing.

But I cannot stress enough the waste of an argument that I think might go into seeking to buy home devices to measure and/or cut reeds within a .1mm tolerance: i.e. the width of a human hair--Vandoren's standard, given the equipment cost.

And that doesn't even involve the cost of replacing out/sharpening the industrial diamonds that are used to effect this process.

It's just not cost effective to recreate the wheel Vandoren, et. al., is producing in mass.

I'll even concede that maybe if you were making reeds out of a quality assured consistent substance, that doesn't absorb water, like say Legeres, that there may be some merit in such pursuits. But the inconsistency of cane, even intrareed, even great cane, not to mention the affects of water absorption on the reed, and how that varies in different parts of the reed, will always mean this:

Until we can manufacture consistent cane through genetic engineering in a quality controlled environment, adjustment will be necessary no matter how precise the cut. And as far as the quality controlled environment is concerned, it is the very uncontrolled environments in places like the right parts of France, where the wind blows just right, that are the very thing that helps to make great cane. Perhaps someday we'll find a way to mimic such winds in a greenhouse environment.

This isn't to knock cutting highly consistent product. Doing so serves to keep the product as consistent as possible (not to be confused with consistent) for the end consumer to adjust.

For those who think they have better access to the best cane than the large scale manufacturers, assuming this even true, I'd say that for all but the most virtuosic, their improvement as a player--which really is the goal here, is likely better served via the right practice on clarinet rather than clarinet reeds.

Although I respect their right to make their own reeds through some of the more affordable products out there.

Some will differ citing the amazing reeds they produce themselves. Fair enough. But they need to also talk about the time/cost it took to do and/or learn. The same time the late Kal Opperman described as a clarinet player's most precious asset. They'd need to ask themselves why so many of the greats are playing purchased reeds.

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-07-07 02:50

WhitePlainsDave wrote:

> Fair shoutout to Vandoren: V21's are made with larger diameter
> cane, right? I think its fair they market that as a premium
> thing.

I'm not sure V21's are unique in this. Thick blank reeds in general are cut from thicker tubes than the traditional (pre-V.12) thinner blank reeds. But several reed makers market thick-blank reeds alongside thinner designs.

Karl

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2017-07-07 08:01

I wonder whether the ridiculously expensive device that shmuelyosef pointed to above would actually do what's wanted. At least two parameters need to be mapped - contour and transparency. The device cited can capture the contour but the light source has to shine through the reed rather than bounce off it to capture the fiber variations. Maybe it can do that too? Or perhaps combining contour measurements with multiple stiffness measurements made with a pressure sensor could capture the characteristics of an individual reed. But does looking at a reed reveal how good the cane is?

As an aside, when I went to Clarinet Fest at Cal State Northridge I took a tour of the Rico factory and watched reeds being made. The hardness of each reed was measured by a pressure gauge/transducer pushing against one spot on the reed. Depending on the reading, the reed was sorted into the appropriate pile, e.g., 2; 2.5, 3, etc. Illustrated at 1:57 in this Rico video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwOUEsdpuI0 (In the factory the stiffness was measured automatically rather than with human intervention as seen in the video)



Post Edited (2017-07-07 08:04)

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2017-07-07 14:23

Bennett wrote:

> I wonder whether the ridiculously expensive device that
> shmuelyosef pointed to above would actually do what's wanted.
> At least two parameters need to be mapped - contour and
> transparency. The device cited can capture the contour but the
> light source has to shine through the reed rather than bounce
> off it to capture the fiber variations. Maybe it can do that
> too? Or perhaps combining contour measurements with multiple
> stiffness measurements made with a pressure sensor could
> capture the characteristics of an individual reed. But does
> looking at a reed reveal how good the cane is?
>
> As an aside, when I went to Clarinet Fest at Cal State
> Northridge I took a tour of the Rico factory and watched reeds
> being made. The hardness of each reed was measured by a
> pressure gauge/transducer pushing against one spot on the reed.
> Depending on the reading, the reed was sorted into the
> appropriate pile, e.g., 2; 2.5, 3, etc. Illustrated at 1:57 in
> this Rico video on YouTube:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwOUEsdpuI0 (In
> the factory the stiffness was measured automatically rather
> than with human intervention as seen in the video)
>

>
> Post Edited (2017-07-07 08:04)


Transparency is easily measured. Put it on a light table (used for examining photographic at negatives or transparencies) in a dark room. Then photograph it and examine the pixel values in something like photoshop.

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2017-07-07 15:53

Synthetic reeds are made with a material that should be more consistent than any genetic engineeered cane Reed could be. You can still often detect a difference in synthetic reeds marked the same that were made from different production runs.

Personally, I like this subtle difference. I can micro grade the reeds myself after playing them and choose among them based on my needs.

MojoMP.com
Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

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 Re: Measuring Reeds
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2017-07-07 18:39

In response to Dibbs comment above about using a light table and photographing the reed, one could just as easily use a scanner than can deal with transparencies, Kodak Ektachrome slides, e.g. But is there appropriate software that can make sense of the image?

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