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 Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2021-02-11 00:29

Has anyone experienced de-warped cane reeds - that is, reeds that you once found warped but which later straigthened up?

If so, what do you think did the trick - like changes in humidity, or something else?

Or, has anyone been able to straighten warped reeds by some kind of treatment?

With warping I'm not meaning a wrinkled tip, but reeds "going bananas" - thus becoming bent along their length (usually with the tip and the butt of the flat side making contact against a flat surface, but with the center rising up).

Last August, with a "reed-friendly" indoor humidity level, I got 9/10 warped reeds out of a V21-box, and this month 10/10 ones out of a Rue 56-box. Similarly also with a lot of Pilgerstorfer reeds.

I'm following a previous suggestion on this board about wetting only the tip or the upper half of a reed to prevent warping in the first place, but without success. I'm also storing wetted reeds upside down, until they have dried.

Just wondering if warped reeds should be trashed right on, or still be kept in hope of a possible, future de-warping.



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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-11 02:55

I always dry reeds upside down after use or I store them in a case that holds them up on their edges so both sides are exposed to air. I had my first really warped reed in, really, as long as I can remember, last week.

No, I've never kept a warped reed around long enough to see if it would naturally "de-warp." I've never really tried very hard to restore warped reeds - they're not expensive enough to make the effort worthwhile. Most advice is to sand the flat side so it's flat again. The few times I've ever tried it, the reed has never played well afterward.

Karl

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-02-11 03:30

To my knowledge, I've never had a reed warp as described. Is this something that happens more in humid environments?

Fuzzy

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-11 05:12

See, I've ALWAYS had some form of this with reeds..........but using a bit more force with a ligature that makes broader contact along the length of the stock usually irons this out.


Years ago a friend of mine in college who made reeds told me that she'd wet the formative reed (somewhere between blank and finished product), slap it onto a piece of glass and let it warp however it wanted. She'd then sand it down, and do that again..........and again and again until the nascent reed stopped warping and then she'd finish them off. She made reeds for Larry Combs back then as well.



I am sure mass produced reeds cannot have that much time and effort applied to their creation so NONE of them would pass muster against a custom made reed.



That said though I think the quality of mass produced reeds has gotten MUCH better than what it was forty or fifty years ago. You guys don't know how good you have it!



Then if you want less hassle, there is always the European Signature Legere.






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

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-02-11 05:41

Depends what you mean by 'warp'.
Wrinkled tip and rocking the reed sideways on a flat surface? The tip may sometimes warp toward the facing if not pulled back after playing.
Rocking back and forth (Swollen table) and wrinkled tip are both caused by very dry air, and can be cured by a long soaking. Some of my older reeds take 4+ hours to flatten out. I mark those with a red notch so if I want to use them, I start soaking early. One red means at least 2 hours and 2 notches mean 4+ hours. This approach has worked for nearly 50 years of clarinet playing. I also think of my 'notched' reeds as my Summer Reeds, but they still work well with adequate soaking.

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2021-02-11 07:20

I have few problems with reed warp.

I've found the best approach, over the last year or so is to keep your reed ritual to a minimum:

- balance the reed right away (the twisting, torsional dance of the reed on the MP destroys the cane and reduces the life of the reed, not to mention makes playing difficult and unrewarding)

- short break-in period ... I don't think spending too much time incrementally breaking in reeds helps much, maybe 4-5 plays, starting at 1.5 minutes and doubling each session with a 1 day rest between playing

- don't let the reeds dry out completely ... immediately store them in a relatively high, constant humidity case (I use 72%) ... letting reed dry out will encourage them to warp ... that is why, usually players will report fewer reed problems in the summer months ...

- wipe them or quick soak occasionally with hydrogen peroxide (bacteria kills reeds, and might make you sick)

I used Legere reeds for a while, but found that on my favorite MPs, cane gave better results and tuned better for me in the altissimo ...

Tom

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-11 08:00

TomS wrote:

> - don't let the reeds dry out completely ... immediately store
> them in a relatively high, constant humidity case (I use 72%)
> ... letting reed dry out will encourage them to warp ... that
> is why, usually players will report fewer reed problems in the
> summer months ...

I never do this (except for the few times when I've experimented with it). It isn't the drying that warps wood. It's uneven drying (i.e. the vamp dries while the back of the reed can't because it's sitting or pressed against flat glass). But the point isn't whether or not there's any benefit to keeping reeds humidified. It's just that in my experience it isn't necessary to prevent warped reeds.

Karl

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2021-02-11 09:12

Like Fuzzy, I've never seen one warped as described.
For wrinkled tips (what I call "warping") I do two things--

-- When I am playing concerts I do keep them a little moist at all times... not too much water, just enough to keep them from drying out. Then you are pretty sure it will be OK for the concert.

-- To take "warps" out of the reed tip (ie. it dried out completely), I make sure it is completely wet. Next I put the reed tip on the flat part of the mouthpiece (any flat surface will do). I put it on there perpendicularly to the mouthpiece and pin it there with my left thumb. Then I use my right index finger to "tick" it-- gently--like motioning "come here". This will remove the warps.

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2021-02-11 10:30

I can't name the person or company, but a few years ago a clarinetist who was also a medical researcher or something (he was perhaps, an MD or Phd) embarked on a journey to find out why reeds go bad and/or wear out. You can find the interview on the Clarineat podcast from about 3-4 years ago ... so I may be remembering some details wrong ...

Apparently this guy or guys had some rather sophisticated facilities to assist in their research. Anyway, after a considerable amount of work, they concluded that the two factors that influence reed stability/warping and life were: 1. allowing the reed to dry out after use and 2. bacteria

They make a little reed carrier that has a sponge that you soak in Listerine mouthwash. This keeps the reeds damp and the alcohol kills the bacteria.

My house is all electric with very dry heat ... and reeds if left out to dry will often warp.

What sense does it make to wet and dry reeds over many cycles? A reed has to be used damp, so why not maintain that state?

Also, Richie Hawley maintains that you should never let the reed dry out, it always needs to be kept in a somewhat humid environment. You can find that on another episode on the Clarineat podcast.

And, occasionally I will run into someone that will ditto this notion.

I think I have affirmed their research myself, as I've had much fewer reed problems in the last year or so ...

Give it a try!

Tom

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2021-02-11 15:38

I forgot to mention that I break in my reeds by playing on each for 2-5-10-15 minutes on successive days, and I store them in a cigar humidifier. Right now that humidifier keeps 52 %, while indoor humidity is 21 %.

So, with these recent Vandoren reeds I opened each "flowpack" and then immediately placed them in that humidifier. At break in, I took out one reed at a time, wetted it, played it for the assigned time, rinsed it in a jar of water, wiped it both with my fingers and gently with a towel, and put it back to the humidifier.

Those who haven't experienced warped reeds (please reed my entire initial post if you don't know what I mean with warping), how are you checking your reeds? I check mine by slightly wetting the entire flat side and then pressing them gently against a piece of glass. Then looking through the glass at the flat side you can see if the reed makes contact along all its length, or maybe only at the tip and butt. By pressing it with a finger at the middle on the "upside" of the reed, you can force the reed flat, but at once when you release it, it will "pop up".

Sometimes the warping may be inverted as convex rather than concave, but mostly at least for me it's concave.

The playing experience with a warped reed is stuffy, with increased stuffiness the more the reed is warped.



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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-11 19:54

Micke Isotalo wrote:

> Those who haven't experienced warped reeds (please reed my
> entire initial post if you don't know what I mean with
> warping), how are you checking your reeds? I check mine by
> slightly wetting the entire flat side and then pressing them
> gently against a piece of glass. Then looking through the glass
> at the flat side you can see if the reed makes contact along
> all its length, or maybe only at the tip and butt. By pressing
> it with a finger at the middle on the "upside" of the reed, you
> can force the reed flat, but at once when you release it, it
> will "pop up".

> The playing experience with a warped reed is stuffy, with
> increased stuffiness the more the reed is warped.
>

I'll admit to exaggerating slightly about how often my reeds warp. I probably toss 2 or 3 a year in a bad year. Still not a frequent or chronic problem. And (to your invitation to try humidifying reeds), as I said in my original post, I've tried storing my working reeds with those Boveda humidipaks inside plastic bags and disliked the result. More than once.

Unfortunately, warpage isn't the only cause of stuffiness. But in any case, my first check is to see if the reed seals on the mouthpiece. I do this fairly routinely. If I can't get a suction for at least 2 or 3 seconds, I assume the reed is warped. I might then lay the reed on a flat surface (like plate glass) to feel if it rocks from side to side.

In my experience, if the reed sits flat against the edge of the window and against the table at the butt end, it doesn't much matter what kind of contact exists with the table in between those two points. Many mouthpieces, including the legendary Cheds, were and are faced with a slightly concave scoop in the table partly to accommodate a slightly out-of-plane reed, to increase the likelihood the reed will make uniform contact at the end of the window with the ligature pressing down on it. If air is able to get under the reed at the bottom of the window or if the vamp's edges are upturned (or, less likely, downturned) because of stresses along the reed's length, the reed will behave in odd ways that are different from garden-variety stuffiness.

Karl

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2021-02-11 22:10

Yes, that brings up a point ... many MPs have what is called a "French Dip" in the reed table, that is, a slight concavity. This might reduce problems resulting from reed warp, but I think it also effects how the reed vibrates, because it allows the reed to slightly flex both ways in the middle as it vibrates. I think that my VD MPs are made this way, and explains why I like the way the Luyben and Rovner Light (cut out in the middle) sounds over the Rico H, Bonade, Rovner Dark, etc. ligature, which also clamps or damps the reed in the middle.

It seems that the real criteria for the flat side of the reed to be un-warped, is just at the opening of the window or slot.

Some MP makers claim that a flat MP reed table has better response ...

I may be over doing my humidity packs at 72%, as I occasionally see some mold on reeds I've stored for several months in the dark ... but my house, in the winter is really dry, probably 20% ... and all the sinus problems have prompted the use of a humidifier ... but it doesn't seem quite enough to keep reeds at a wetter/better climate.

Tom

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 Re: Do reeds ever de-warp?
Author: Clarineat 
Date:   2021-03-10 08:13

Tom you're thinking of the "Reedjuvinate"! This was episode 58 of the podcast. :)

Sean Perrin

Host of the Clarineat Podcast
Listen FREE at www.clarineat.com
hello@clarineat.com

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