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 Filed vs unfiled
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-11-30 22:56

I've wondered many times what effects reed designers intend when they design reeds with the end of the bark squared off ("file cut" or, sometimes, "French cut") or rounded ("unfiled"). Vandoren starts the vamps of its Traditional, V.12, 56 Rue lepic and V21 reeds in four different ways - two varieties each of filed and unfiled styles.

Traditionals are filed. The bark seems consistently to be cut off some distance, about 1/8 inch, from the beginning of the vamp.

V.12s are filed straight, but very close to the end of the vamp cut.

56 Rue lepics have a rounded cut into the bark and are unfiled.

V21 are unfiled, but from the few I've looked at, the cut into the bark is much straighter across than the 56 Rues.

From what I remember, there are similar differences among the various Rico and D'Addario reed models. There are lots of other examples of both types.

These differences in the start of the vamp are obviously deliberate choices by the reed designers. I'm curious: what are the purposes of each style and what if any influence does the choice of cut have on the design of the vamp's profile?
How are these differences **meant** to affect the reeds' performance?


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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-11-30 23:23

They describe filed reeds as having more flexibility and unfiled as having more power. I’m not sure how true this is as I’ve never given much thought beyond how they feel and play on whatever mouthpiece I’m using. Curious to see what others have to say who are actually knowledgeable on this.

Post Edited (2019-11-30 23:23)

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-12-01 00:55

I'm soooooo glad you asked this question! I went along completely oblivious to this detail and attributed the playing characteristics all to the shape and size of the vamp (and resulting heart). I gravitated to the 56 Rue Lepic for many years from the standard cut because they are much more robust. I more recently (while I was still using cane) found the V21s to be a perfect compromise between the 56 Rue Lepic and the Standard cut reed.

Now this makes much more sense. The bark itself would act like a firm springboard.

THANK YOU !!!!!!!

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

Post Edited (2019-12-01 05:29)

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-12-01 20:54

From working at Rico for so many years, millions of reeds were designed by me, the filed vamp is meant to be a shade freer. Not much.

In fact the LaVoz reeds are the exact same as the Rico Royal's. Just not filed. Same machine was used to cut them. Same with the Mitchell Lurie reeds and the Mitchell Lurie Premium. I've always preferred the non sanded vamps. They have that extra wood in the back of the reed which I feel supports the reeds a shade more.

This of course is a personal opinion. I feel the same with the Vandoren 56 and the V12's. I haven't played on the V21's yet.

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

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-12-01 22:29

I suppose the overall design of the reed matters most. My Behn Aria reeds are not filed, yet are fewer playing than anything I’ve ever used before while still having great support in the sound.

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-12-01 22:56

Hey "fernie121,"

Can you rephrase that statement? The end, "still having great support," is a confirmation that the NON filed reeds are ...... stiffer, firmer, more robust, louder.

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

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-12-01 23:16

I suppose I did phrase that incorrectly. The Aria reeds are unfiled and play with great support in the sound. However, they are also the most free blowing reeds I’ve ever tried. More so than any filed reed I’ve ever tried.

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2019-12-02 00:01

As I understand it, because of variation in the cane, the machines turn out reeds that vary. They're even sorted into their varying strengths only afterwards.

Thus, a reed that ISN'T filed would play differently, and perhaps better – or worse – were it to be filed in the machining process.

Also, a reed that IS filed would have played better – or worse – had it NOT been filed.

Naively, this would seem to argue for the first option. You can always file a reed yourself, if you think it would make it better.

That would be a way of testing the validity of your 'pet theory' about reeds.


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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-12-02 06:56

Dear Tony,

I was never one to even have much success with balancing a reed properly so I don't think I'd be the one to try my own filing.

But I did pull out examples of each Vandoren (Standard cut, Rue Lepic 56, and V21) to verify that the description of the poster was correct.

Beyond that I rely on my MEMORY of years of playing on each of these (the last four years have been dedicated to plastic), and those experiences match up with what was posted as well.

This is not to say that you cannot get every sort of response out of ONE cut configuration based on other factors, but merely that within the confines of Vandoren, their particular cuts, and a particular strength...........the average performance over time IS as described.

I could not be more surprised! No one had ever brought this to my attention before.

Again, many thanks to "KDK" for at least putting this out into the ether.

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

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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-12-02 07:48

Tony Pay wrote:

> Naively, this would seem to argue for the first option. You
> can always file a reed yourself, if you think it would make it
> better.

Yes, that's actually what I've done over the last 50 years, something my teacher in college showed me. It isn't difficult, just an extra step to go through. I've generally found that cutting and filing the bark straight seemed to free up the response and take some of the stridency out of a reed that had too much of it. Or else it ruined an otherwise imperfect but acceptable reed. :)

I'd never noticed the description at WW&BW - probably because I don't shop there very often and the article fernie121 cites was posted only 5 months ago. It seems to confirm my own impression.


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 Re: Filed vs unfiled
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2019-12-02 20:39

I suspect that most of us who adjust reeds change where we scrape them according to our personal assessment of what's required. I myself have adjusted reeds close to where the filing circumcision occurs, for example.

Given that reeds can be made worse or better by the filing (for any given mouthpiece) your initial question can be answered in another way.

What is the indiscriminate filing 'meant' to do? you asked.

The manufacturers will have in mind their bottom line, which is to sell more reeds. A small, easy to implement and fairly insignificant change can create a bit of a hype such as we've seen here, and probably elsewhere.

So I'd say that that is what the filing is 'designed' to do. Some reeds will benefit, others not, as you indicate. But they may sell more of both.

The use of the word 'design' is interesting. The word suggests scientifically-based intention in one context, but also manipulation in another: 'He had designs on the money'.

Absent the science, I'm drawn to the second interpretation.


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