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 New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-15 18:56

Hello

I discussed this topic in here a while back, and promised to make a video, but didnt get around to it until now. Had a longer brake between students and voila! :)

This method is:
- free
- works on all reeds in a box as long as they are not too soft
- makes reed lasts longer than filed reeds, in my experience
- simple
- fast

I have better reeds than ever before, and have no need for my knives and atg method any more!


Hope to see some comments on your experiences testing it out! :)

https://youtu.be/6kee7ry80qU


Best regards
Niclas

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-15 19:33

Hi Nicolas:

Thank you for your video and post.

I can concur that your techniques work, at least for me, having effected them prior to seeing this video.

As a young clarinetist sitting in the back of band, I use to watch the older people up front effect reed adjustment technique similar to that you describe, only it was always with the reed perpendicular to the mouthpiece. Your angled approach is an added aspect I hadn't considered as it regardless balancing the sides.

I never knew why players did this. Interestingly enough Tom H recently wrote about doing this for--if I understood him correctly--removing the waviness of a reed's tip.

But when I tried it I noticed that the reed became easier to play. I reasoned that I was applying somewhat controlled damage to the fibers of the reed to compensate for the strength (and flexibility) mother nature gave it.

This is by no means my only method of adjustment, the ATG method being my primary choice. But I completely agree that sanding a reed's tip, while having the capability for enormous good when done correctly, also has its limits it both how much good it can do, and how much sanding can be done before the reed becomes unmanageable (even if for different reasons) than it was prior to sanding.

Thanks again for demonstrating the angled reed approach. I can concur that you are on to something that is definitely NOT voodoo, even if better understanding of where to hold the reed tip on the mouthpiece, and how much and hard to flick it might benefit from further research.:)

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-03-15 20:03

Ok, I never tried this, but it looks pretty convincing. It almost makes me want to try cane again :-)



nah






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



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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: kilo 
Date:   2021-03-15 21:21

I thought this was really interesting, understandable, and practical. My response was just like Paul's...

...right to the "nah"!

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-15 21:34

Haha. Thanks for replying! :) i dare you to try it out Paul! The worst thing is you might like it. I played on synthetics for 10 years. Tried all the brands there was. Got hooked on european cuts for 5 years or so. But the minute i got this going i felt kind of ”how could i have played those for that long.” It felt so good coming back to wood. :)

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-15 21:55

Fascinating idea. Many thanks for sharing.

Here's my own experience...

After watching your Youtube post, I just took a brand new Vandoren V21 3.5+ (i.e., a bit stronger than I usually use) and after briefly moistening it in my mouth, just as you demonstrated, I gently "flicked" it.

At least I thought it was gentle.

I wound up cracking it right across the point where I'd held it against the mouthpiece table.

Needless to say, this killed it.

This is now the first reed I have ever pitched in the garbage - giving up any hope of a future together. Despite my high hopes, this brief relationship ended in an ugly breakup.

Conclusion: Apparently I don't have the finesse to use this method without destroying reeds.

I will continue using ATG for the tops and my Vixen flat file for the backs. I have not been unhappy with these results.

YMMV.

But again, thanks for sharing. At least good to know there are other methods that work for some of us out there.

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-15 22:17

Oh. I’m sorry to hear this. I will put a disclaimer in the video description. The noise got really loud due to the macbooks compression algorithms. So i understand how it could be interpreted as a rather forceful movement. Its suppose to be a gentle tap.

Thanks for sharing. Will edit so no other reed must sacrifice their life in vain!

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-15 22:20

@Niclas: 'Twas for a good cause ;-)

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Robert N. 
Date:   2021-03-15 22:38

Wow! This seems to work really well!
I tried it on a few reeds, and the difference was very noticeable!
Very light taps, testing as I went along.

Thank you very much for sharing this!

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-03-15 22:45

This was pretty common when I was a kid. Funny to see it coming back around again. ;^)>>>

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-03-15 23:28

And get the reed moist in your mouth first.







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



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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-16 02:56

@Paul: "And get the reed moist in your mouth first."

Ah, that's where I went wrong. I spit on it after it landed in the garbage bin.

In music, timing is everything.

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2021-03-16 03:25

I first saw this done in Europe, many years ago. It was at the Vandoren factory in Paris in the days when one could try reeds before purchasing them (yes, it's true; not sure if everyone could do it but I was with my teacher and he was permitted to do it so I was too).

A older gentleman, playing a full system instrument (if you don't know what that is, it's a clarinet with an articulated G# key and a low D), was "flicking" just about every reed to get it play as he wanted. At one point, I asked him (in French) what he was doing. He told me he was "fixing" the reeds.

I tried it myself later that day and, to my surprise, it worked to improve the reed's response. As Mr. Gustafsson says, the light, flicking action enables you to adjust the reed's internal fibers without altering or distorting the exterior profile, which is what happens most often after scraping or sanding. That's a very good thing since it's almost always the uneven stiffness of the internal fibers that cause reeds to play less than optimally.



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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-16 09:48

Thank for your very interesting reply mr Globus! This is very cool info!!

I have gotten kind of the same responses from all kinds of single reed joints across the internet - ”i have done this since the 60’s” and ”wow it really works”.

How come it fell out of fashion?

I have studied with some hot shot players and played with others and NONE of them have used this. Sorry to say many of the ones in orchestras that gets their reeds for free pick the one or two in a box that works and throw the rest away. Some ”bother” to scrape with a knife. I was thaught how to scrape in university. I would have saved a LOT of money doing this instead.

Anyone know what happened? Did we simply get too influenced by the double reeds with their cool looking tools and gadgets?

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-03-16 10:34

Niclas.e.gustofasson,

Quote:

How come it fell out of fashion?


In your similar post here: http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=487077&t=487069

It seems that there was somewhat of a consensus that it shortens the life of the reed.

As for myself, I can't remember with 100% certainty, but I seem to recall thinking that the reeds died more quickly, or started playing with a dullness earlier.

Fuzzy
;^)>>>

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-16 12:18

Oh wow. Didnt find that thread. Really was going to put the video there. Thanks!!!
What fantastic responces!

I have not experienced this really. Not more than usual. I get a week of playing about from every reed (in rotation) before they start deteriorating. Then maybe 1-2 weeks of practice quality and then i use it for teaching. Haha. Kids dont know the difference and it doesnt matter if its left out on the mpc to dry.

What i did find was i cant make it too light since the reed will soften a bit more with a few hours playing time. But as soon as the balance is in place it sticks that way. And thay was my issue before with knife adjusting.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2021-03-16 17:55

That same summer that I was at Vandoren in Paris, I had played in Austria, where I learned how to make reeds by hand (I was never particularly good at it and found it too much work so I ultimately went back to purchasing finished reeds).

The Austrian players I met made their own reeds but they all used this "flicking" technique in the final stages. I would even see them doing it during rehearsals and on stage before and during concerts. This was in the early 1970's so there's definitely a history to this approach that goes back a ways.

I'm not sure that the technique ever fell out of fashion. It's rather just one of those trade secrets that some people know and some people don't know. Here's another one: applying cork grease.

Most clarinet players apply cork grease to, well, the corks. Sounds logical and it works but there's a better way. Instead of applying grease to the corks, where it can and often does seep into the corks and cause them to become unglued, apply it to the tenons (there are four: two in the barrel, one in the lower joint, and one in the bell). And don't apply it before you play, apply it after you've finished playing and before you put your instrument away in the case. That way, the next time you go to play, your fingers are grease-free.

I learned this from one of my original teachers way back in the early 1960's and he learned it apparently from one of his teachers at the Paris Conservatoire, Auguste Périer. I've been doing it ever since and I rarely if ever have any issues with loose or detached corks.

Paul Globus



Post Edited (2021-03-16 18:15)

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-16 22:41

Paul wrote: "...Instead of applying grease to the corks, where it can and often does seep into the corks and cause them to become unglued, apply it to the tenons (there are four: two in the barrel, one in the lower joint, and one in the bell). And don't apply it before you play, apply it after you've finished playing and before you put your instrument away in the case. That way, the next time you go to play, your fingers are grease-free."

I had figured it'd be better to apply the grease to the inside of the tenons rather than the corks (where I can control it better) and so I've been doing it that way from the outset. But I never thought about doing this upon putting the instrument away - to avoid greasy fingers, which I had been wiping off on a rag before playing. Greasy fingers AFTER playing can remain that way for a while ;-)

This is a clever variation on the theme. Thanks!

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-16 23:43

Paul Globus wrote:

> Most clarinet players apply cork grease to, well, the corks.
> Sounds logical and it works but there's a better way. Instead
> of applying grease to the corks, where it can and often does
> seep into the corks and cause them to become unglued, apply it
> to the tenons (there are four: two in the barrel, one in the
> lower joint, and one in the bell). And don't apply it before
> you play, apply it after you've finished playing and before you
> put your instrument away in the case. That way, the next time
> you go to play, your fingers are grease-free.

There are two separate suggestions here that are really unrelated. I apply cork grease to the corks, but often apply it as I'm putting the clarinet away for the reason Paul cites - no greasy fingers the next time I assemble the clarinet.

Greasing the sockets instead of the tenons is a separate issue. I'll take your word for it that you've found it has advantages. I've only had corks come unglued at one point in my 60 years of playing - two tenon corks within a few weeks of each other. It was at a time when I had recently switched to a specific, very popular cork grease from what I had always used previously. I went back to my standby and haven't had a cork come unglued since. I'm not sure I understand why the grease, which will get spread over the corks' surfaces from the socket walls anyway, doesn't eventually do the same damage either way.

Karl

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-17 00:52

@Karl: As one who decided to grease inside the tenons rather than outside on the corks, I'll share my reasoning (as far as it ever went)...

Once greased, the exposed corks are more likely to (1) stain the lining inside the case or (2) pick up extraneous dirt if they touch anything else besides the inside of its matching tenon.

Also, the bridge mechanism on the upper section extends beyond the edge of the joint, thereby blocking access to a portion of the cork on that joint. And so, greasing the inside of the lower joint tenon instead of the cork on the upper provides a full circle of lube for that upper joint cork to work into.

Orders of minimal difference?

Yeah, probably.

But at least this (minimal) thinking is what prompted me to grease inside the female parts rather than outside on the male parts.

If all goes well, the grease winds up where it's most intended.

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Leonard Alterman 
Date:   2021-03-17 01:38

I tried this on two different reeds and after I did it neither reed would make a sound. Thet were fair before I tried iit.



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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2021-03-17 01:54

You know, I said apply the grease to the "tenons" but I realize that's the wrong word. I meant to say the sockets.

Sorry for the confusion.



Post Edited (2021-03-17 01:57)

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-17 03:59

OneWatt wrote:

> But at least this (minimal) thinking is what prompted me to
> grease inside the female parts rather than outside on the male
> parts.
>
> If all goes well, the grease winds up where it's most intended.
>

But doesn't grease end up on the cork when you put the clarinet together? It certainly gets on the inside of the socket when I grease the tenon cork and then slide the joint together.

I wonder what would happen if the inside of the sockets were coated with a more persistent silicone material, like a lock lubricant that dries but leaves a slippery film on the lock mechanism. You might get the reduced friction of grease without its coming off on anything.

Karl

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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-17 04:28

Karl: "... I wonder what would happen if the inside of the sockets were coated with a more persistent silicone material, like a lock lubricant that dries but leaves a slippery film on the lock mechanism. You might get the reduced friction of grease without its coming off on anything."

I certainly like your idea ... silicone is fairly inert, no? Perhaps someone with a better gasp of the long term effects, if any, of silicone on porous cork might jump in.

[Meanwhile, my apologies - I've also conflated tenons with sockets in my terminology above. Hopefully the which was which was clear.]

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: Niclas.e.gustafsson 
Date:   2021-03-17 09:40

Leonard: did you see my response to your email? I love to take a look if you send me a video of that it is you are doing. :)

Best regards
Niclas

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-20 21:26

Okay then, to share an update on my friend "flicker"...

HERE'S THE SHORT VERSION: I gave flicking reeds another try. It bombed.

LONGER VERSION: I opened a fresh box of Mitchell Lurie 3.5 (5 reeds) to perform the following experiment:

1) Briefly dipped each reed in tap water, played for a few moments to confirm none were total duds. All 5 were a tad stuffy but showed typical promise given a chance and subjected to proper adjustment.

2) I took 2 of them at random and "flicked" them.

3) The other 3 were subjected to my typical (initial = gentle) ATG treatment.

OBSERVATION: They all played okay though the "flicked" reeds felt even less cooperative - i.e., stuffier than before. But at least I didn't crack either of them this time ;-)

4) The next day I moistened them again, tried them again and again found the 2 flicked reeds to be stuffier and more difficult to play. In fact, they were both worse.

5) I ATG'ed (and also ran their backs across my vixen flat file) the other 3 and they opened up nicely.

6) The following day, I gently flicked the 2 reeds once again. Now they totally refused to cooperate at all. Like they staged a mini rebellion.

7) The next day I gave up on the flicking-only approach to those 2 recalcitrant reeds and applied ATG adjustment (and vixen flat file on the backs) to these 2 reeds also. Very little improvement.

8) Several days later: The unflicked reeds (with additional minor ATG treatment) all play beautifully. Quite nice, round tone and controllable across the registers.

Meanwhile, those 2 flicked reeds are totally f**cked. (<< see what I did there?)

CONCLUSION: I realize that ML 3.5 reeds are not everyone's favorite (nor mine) and I appreciate that an experiment with n=5 is not statistically meaningful.

But what I've concluded is that I am unable to flick reeds into cooperation. The ATG system (+ vixen file for evening out the backs) works for me. Flicking does not.

I gave it a try. YMMV.

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: rdc 
Date:   2021-03-22 19:17

I tried the method this morning and thought I would pass along some observations.

I read the other thread on this subject and came across kdk's point that the direction of flicking makes a difference. This had also occurred to me. When I flick a reed at a 90 degree angle to the mouthpiece table in order to hasten getting rid of a wavy tip, I hold the mouthpiece table face up and flick the reed from below. I have never noticed that this had an effect on reed strength. So it seemed to me that to actually weaken the fibers, I would need to flick the other way, flicking the top of the reed to bend it toward the mouthpiece as kdk describes. This is what Nicolas seems to do in his video (although he has the mouthpiece table facing downward and flicks from below).

I tried the method on two D'Addario Reserve Classic clarinet reeds, strength #4. I knew these would be too stiff for my mouthpiece, and I was right. I used a plastic plaque rather than my mouthpiece for these experiments.

For the first reed, after test playing it, I flicked at a 90 degree angle at several points along the vamp. Then I put the reed at an angle starting with the edge of my plaque running from the center of the reed tip to a point about halfway down the vamp where the facing breaks away from the reed, flicked several times and then moved the reed closer to the corner of the tip and flicked again, much as I had seen Nicolas do in his video. The flicks were all very light, but the results were disappointing. I tried the flicking several times, with the result that the reed seemed to get way too soft.

For the second reed, I tried only the angled flicking with the plaque edge running from the center of the reed tip to the point where the mouthpiece facing breaks away. Just a few light flicks on each side and in this position only. The results were more promising. The reed was freed up, but still too stiff. Flexing the reed revealed some harder areas near the tip of the reed on either side. I positioned the edge of the plaque near those areas and angled downward from the tip toward the sides of the reed and then gave a few light flicks. Again, this seemed to improve the reed. I put the reed away and will try it again later to see if the adjustments hold.

Conclusions:
1. Less is indeed more. For me, it is easy to overdo this technique to the point that I wonder if it will be reliable.
2. There is a learning curve to the method: how hard to flick? where to position the reed on the mouthpiece table or plaque? what are the results at the different positions? flick so the fibers are weakened toward or away from the mouthpiece? etc.
3. Intriguing, but I probably will not abandon my normal methods of reed adjustment with Reed Geek or reed knife. But maybe useful in an emergency.

Thanks,
R. Chest



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 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-03-23 01:08

@R Chest: Thanks for sharing your own experience. If you find one or both of these flicked reeds perk up anytime soon, let us know. I might be willing to try (destroy?) another reed or two in the name of science.

- - - - - - - - - -
Israel = Ancient Hebrew for "Wrestles with God"
Klarinet = Ancient Greek for "Struggles with Reeds"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-03-24 14:17

Hi Niclas,

Thank you for your video. I found it really interesting. I'd be glad to see more videos like that, with you demonstrating where to flick to solve the different problems of different reeds.

My commonest problem are that my reeds are slow to respond or make an airy noise or are just way too hard and hardly respond at all.

I'm an adult learner and my teacher does not modify reeds as he has always just thrown away reeds that were not good straight out of the box. I'd be really interested to learn more from your videos on this.

Thanks!

Jen

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-24 17:12

SunnyDaze wrote:

> My commonest problem are that my reeds are slow to respond or
> make an airy noise or are just way too hard and hardly respond
> at all.
>
> I'm an adult learner and my teacher does not modify reeds as he
> has always just thrown away reeds that were not good straight
> out of the box.

Jen, what does your teacher suggest about reeds to use? If the ones you're using are consistently airy-sounding or "just way too hard and hardly respond at all," you're almost certainly choosing the wrong reeds. Do any of the reeds in a box of what you're using work?

Is your mouthpiece, especially the facing, intact?

There are lots of things to refine a new learner's sound production over time (adult or child), but this problem sounds like there should be a quick solution.

Karl

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-04-24 22:25

Hi Karl,

Sorry I missed this back in March. Thanks for commenting.

I used to play a 2.5 Vandoren V12 or Rigotti Gold 2.5 and I used to get about 3 good ones from a box of 10.

I have recently switched back to classic vandoren 1.5 because I am trying to do Gade's fantasy piece which has that quick hoppy bit at the end and my reed was just not sounding quickly enough, or at all, on some of the notes.

I seem to do a lot better on the 1.5, though my teacher says my high notes are a bit flat. He said maybe we should aim to get good on the 1.5 and then work back up to a harder reed to get the notes in tune. I thought that sounded like a good idea.

I'm not really sure what the problem is but it might just have been a tricky year. I missed 8 months of lessons to covid, and then have been doing lessons over zoom. It entirely possible that when I get back to in-person lessons then we'll be able to just resolve the problem easily.

If you have any thoughts I'd be glad to know though.

Thanks!

Jen

Reply To Message
 
 Re: New reed adjustment method
Author: jonok 
Date:   2021-05-06 03:58

I've been trying this method, and ... WOW!
So easy, quick and it just works.

I had a box of 1/2 grade too strong, that I would have thrown away, but now they are definitely usable.

One thing I've added to the method is after the flicking, check the reed for any curvature by placing it on a flat surface and pushing it flat. I thought I'd gone way to far on one reed that was unplayable, but it had just acquired a curve that had effectively closed my mouthpiece down to 0.05 tip opening. :)

Jon

-------------------
aspiring fanatic

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