Author: A Brady
Date: 2018-01-05 23:13
I've developed my reed process over the years through a combination of study, research, and, most importantly, simply finding out what works for me.
While freely acknowledging that many world class players clearly believe in working on the backs of their reeds, I've found much greater success with focusing on the balance and blowing resistance, combined with a conditioning period. I haven't really done anything to the back of my reeds for probably ten years or more.
I have little or minimal problem with warpage, which I attribute to only minimally wetting the vamp portion only of my reeds, 10 seconds max, combined with balancing side to side and overall blowing resistance adjustment as needed.
I've gone through periods of sanding the backs of all reeds before playing, using sandpaper, knives, the Reed Geek, bastard files, etc, and also experimented with flattening methods in the course of the reed's life. I've never cared for the sound of the reed after these methods are applied, with problems ranging from grittiness to brightness.
Clearly, it's almost impossible to do a scientific assessment of this process, as every reed is so different, and, once sanded, it's impossible to know what would have occurred without this process, but, over the course of my playing career, I've been much more pleased with my current approach.
When I do occasionally experience warpage, I find that sanding/flattening to be at most a temporary solution, still with the attendant sound degradation already described. I throw these reeds away quickly, and use reeds which remain more stable.
I find my best sound with Vandoren, V12 or V21, and while my best eventual reeds require a lot of work and conditioning, once they are working, they can last me 5 or 6 months or more.
I've certainly had success with the Legere Signature as well, but I feel I get my best sound with a properly adjusted cane reed. In my estimation, cane reeds have a certain flexibility inherent to them, and, once I've customized them to my setup and style of playing, allow me a great range of expressive options. The Legere IMO is very good indeed (many amazing players are using them now), but has more of a "dialed in" response and sound, with less flexibility or give for the player to explore.
Reeds are a complicated concept, but essential to an artistic level of playing.