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 Breaking In Reeds
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-03-17 03:51

Have 2 boxes of new reeds, 2.5 and 3.0. Decided to retire my 39 reeds from 5/2014 to now and begin these, maybe avoiding the many mistakes I likely made over these years while trying to learn. Just play at home daily if I can maybe 30 minutes to an hour but it varies and I might skip a day or two.
I wonder should I break in only a few at a time and use them, or should I follow the various break-in methods where they do all of them and compare them and keep record of them. There are many ways I realize but I want to start a sensible method instead of just trying everything different I might search for and may or may not be advisable. Right now I have one from each package I have been dampening and playing on about 5 minutes a day for 7 days in lower register and laying flat side up on a piece of glass to dry overnight. I have been storing them in open air instead of closed humidity containers which I think might lead to mold. I in fact know many things that can be none but really unsure of the recommended. Too much information and no knowledge I guess you would call it. Perhaps someone can steer me in the right direction, I hope. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2018-03-17 04:45

As you say there are many ways, and on here you will find almost as many different opinions as there are members.

FWIW I like to beak in 5 new reeds at a time, too many and it gets confusing.
Also break in the new reeds in parallel with practicing on the old ones. That way you have something to compare against.

Don't wait until all your reeds are dying before starting to break in their replacements.

a few minutes playing on the first day but then gradually increase so that after 7 days you are playing about 15 mins per reed, in all registers and introduced staccato..

Start adjusting gently after first 2 or 3 days, not too much at a time, allow the reed to settle an stabilise.

Make a pencil mark on the butt end to indicate each day you have played them. You don't have to do it all on consecutive days, and this will help you keep track.

After about 10 days I figure my reeds are ready for extended play and can sort out the performance versus practice reeds from the batch.

Rotate - rotate - rotate that way the reeds last much longer overall.

As said at start, this is just my approach, and it works for me.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-03-17 05:31

Just for the record, what happens if you don't break a reed in, and just play it for hours a day?

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Luisebv 
Date:   2018-03-17 17:18

It will die very quickly, it would last only 2 - 3 weeks. (Or maybe less) Depending on how much you playing it.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: tucker 2017
Date:   2018-03-17 17:59

BGBG, have you tried Legeres? Many people love them. No break in.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2018-03-18 00:57

tucker wrote:

> BGBG, have you tried Legeres? Many people love them. No break
> in.

Well, for Legeres, they also have a short period of break in time. It will become a bit softer after playing a while.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2018-03-18 01:33

I personally feel that Legeres do have a break in period of at least a few days. But the change is not as much as cane reeds. And if you play on them extensively for more than an hour, they do get softer.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: tucker 2017
Date:   2018-03-18 03:15

Yes, Klose and zhang... Legeres do get a bit softer after playing awhile, but my reference was the typical break in period of playing 5 minutes for a week, then increase to 10 minutes the 2nd week, etc etc. Just slap the thing on and play. When I use Legeres, I rotate after about 45 min to an hour, as zhang inferred.

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2018-03-19 17:47

Check out my website on the subject, it's free.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Breaking In Reeds
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-20 01:36

I just placed the below content in a thread which discusses reed inconsistency. But I find this information appropriate here as well. Please excuse my double dipping.

I personally find that any cane reed can and probably will warp. But almost any cane reed can and probably will come back, become true, from proper break-in.

My thoughts are that the approach which requires minimal time, and perhaps most importantly - minimal effort - wins. That is to say that there are some methods where players start with rather hard reeds, and over many days slowly break-in their reeds with multiple playings and adjustments to eventually get them into performance worthiness.

I personally don't feel that method is good for the following two essential reasons.
1. Playing reeds that are too hard - whether it be in performance or during a lengthy break-in process invites unnecessary work. And I avoid "bite-'n-blow" at all costs.
2. Every time you play a reed, you are steadily reducing its lifespan. So for the best possible longevity, a brief break-in is beneficial.

Cane in its ideal form (a good reed) produces the best combination of feel (easy, reliable response, it is comfortable on the embouchure, and free to the wind), AND it produces the best possible tone. In my opinion, nothing compares to a good cane experience. Life is long, and I would hate to waste my precious performance life on anything but my very best, and for me - that is cane. So it is worth it to me to go through the following trials and tribulations to consistently and reliably achieve my preferred playing experience.

So here is what my trials and tribulations or to put it more antiseptically, my regimen looks like.

Since I am picky about reeds, and since I am a professional clarinetist I find it worth the investment to go through a batch of ten reeds each time I start the process - that way after I have winnowed the field, broken-in the reeds, I will still have a good number of concert-worthy reeds at the end of my several day long process.

1. I open a box, and simply wet them in such a way as to make sure that the reed's tip is sufficiently free of any waviness. And I play each reed for a brief moment (perhaps 10 seconds). This entire process takes less than ten minutes - to go through a box of ten reeds.

2. I place each of the reeds in my reed case (humidity control is CRUCIAL). The best value for your dollar where storage is concerned is to simply use the D'Addario reed clips that come in a box of any of their reeds. Then place your damp reeds in a plastic zip-bag, monitoring the humidity level to be no more than 75 percent, and ideally between 50 and 70 percent. In other words, keep your eye out for mold. If you see any, it is too humid. To make the climate less humid, keep the bag unzipped for awhile. It is actually much easier to maintain a proper climate in the zip-bag than it sounds. It just takes a little time to develop a sense of things...

3. Next play session could be twenty minutes later or the next day. I simply do the same thing - I play all ten reeds again; but this time I start to monitor the reeds and their performance. Are there any dogs? Are any too hard? Soft reeds typically firm up (at least my ARIA reeds do) during their several day-long break-in, so make sure not to throw away any soft reeds. If a reed is terribly hard, then I may scrape it down a tad, or I may discard it.

4. Repeat stage 3 three to five more times. Playing through ten reeds shouldn't take more than a few minutes. But as the process unfolds you can allow a few more moments per reed to evaluate, adjust as needed, and winnow.

Note: By the time I have played the reeds a few times, I will start to actually practice play scales on them, work on my orchestra rep, or an etude or some such. In other words, over time I gradually increase the length of time I play each reed. And along the way, I may take a moment to either winnow the field, or adjust the reeds which play a bit too hard.

Note that a reed that plays too hard can either bee too resistant to the wind, or too heavy on the embouchure (I have to bite the focus in place). And in both cases I adjust the reed for proper balance as needed during my several days of break-in.

So the process may seem lengthy but it really isn't. Just half a dozen times of playing through the reed...perhaps first thing before I start my day, or perhaps at the end of the day as a relaxing way to wind down. It really doesn't matter. Since I am always keen to play on reed strengths which feel comfortable, I can get service out of my reeds which are breaking in, and I winnow the field along the way. My storage method (humidity control) is crucial in massaging the warp out of the reed.

On warping. All cane reeds will warp during their break-in process. Just like an adolescent child. You simply don't know what you are going to get from moment to moment. So the key is to be patient, don't throw it out, simply wet-play- and-store, and repeat. Eventually the reed will mature through its adolescence, and become a responsible adult citizen, worthy of the stage. I never sand or scrape the bottom of my reeds. I simply allow the process above to unfold, and eventually my reeds become perfectly flat and stable. But it takes some time.

How much time?

Not much, perhaps 6-8 playings, but it is worth noting that some cane is very reliable from the get-go and other cane requires more time to settle. Be patient. And be willing to throw away the reeds which aren't up to the task after you have confidence in what sort of performer it will be.

Note that my above method is for reeds which play well within my comfort level - straight out of the box. I NEVER want to play a reed which is too heavy. And yes I don't care to play on reeds that are too light either, but I note that my reeds generally seem to feel harder as they break-in.

And when the reed no longer has snappy response, full range of dynamics, and crisp resonance, it is dying. I don't care to play dead reeds as a reed that is too old seems to lack range.

By range I mean - access to a full scope of dynamics. Newer cane has more elasticity, and it can take my air and my manipulations with zeal, and this is a lovely thing in accessing my artistry. I want my reed to be allow me to do whatever I want to do, and this requires both freedom AND support (working resistance). So make sure during your winnowing process that you evaluate your reeds for the type of repertoire you are playing AND for the acoustic environment you will be performing in.

Just my two-cents.

Brad Behn

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