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 underlying hiss
Author: Karel Vahala 
Date:   1999-08-02 12:34

I am a keen beginner (6months) experiencing a fairly intrusive breathy hiss with about half of my reeds. I am using Van Doren V12, No 3 and 31/2. Some of these sound great, some awful. Mpc = Selmer 85. Is the fault mine or the reeds' ? Thanks in advance.
P.S. I really enjoy this Bulletin Board, and am amazed at the friendly help shown in the responses. Great.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Therese 
Date:   1999-08-02 13:40

Maybe try polishing the back of the reed on a piece of fine-grit sand-paper, followed by a piece of plain white paper. It might help :) therese

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Karel Vahala 
Date:   1999-08-02 14:56

Thank you Therese, I will try that. Karel.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Ray Swing 
Date:   1999-08-02 15:40

Since you have only been playing a few months, your embouchure is probably not developed enough to handle the reed strength of 3 1/2 or 3. Try dropping back to a 2 or 2 1/2. Reed strength depends on three items: Mouthpiece opening, Embouchure and brand of reed. Also note that most boxes of reeds will vary a 1/2 strength reed to reed. So try a couple of 2's or 2 1/2's and see if the Hissing (air) stops.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Kevin Bowman 
Date:   1999-08-02 19:33

The "hissing" or "airy" sounding reeds are probably a bit higher in strength (thicker/more resistant) than the reeds on which you get a good sound. Remember that when you buy a box of reeds, they are *not* all identical - some are "lighter", some "heavier" than the marked strength. Also, many reeds are not well balanced right out of the box. Learn to balance and adjust your reeds and you will find that, with a little effort, many more reeds will respond the way you want them to. There is information here on this BBS on reed adjustment, I think.

Kevin Bowman

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   1999-08-03 02:34

What I thought:
1)I also had a Selmer C85. It needs more breath support than Vandoren 5RV,B40,B44,and B45,which I had used too.It may be better to change to a more free blowing mouthpiece.
2)V12 reeds are for mouthpieces with long facing and small tip clearance such as B40 or M13.I would use traditional Vandoren or Rico Gland Concert Thick for C85. If V12 3.5 is used now,Rico Grand Concert Thick 3.0 will match.I would not take Rico Grand Concert Thick 'Blank',which has more thicker heel.But I used for long time traditional Vandren 2.5 with a Vandoren 2RV,now not commercially available.
3)Also,your hiss may come from left-right sides unbalance of the reed.His home page has a literature on how to test and adjust the reeds:
4)Another idea came up to me:when I was young,it took very much hours to learn how to adjust reeds and because of this my practice time was decreased substancially.Now I hear a good plastic reed is available such as Legere. I would practice clarinet using this hi-tec reed while learning how to adjust cane reeds.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   1999-08-03 02:41

I wrote:His home page has a literature on how to test and adjust the reeds.

Sorry,I meant Mr.Tom Ridenour's as 'His'.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Rick2 
Date:   1999-08-05 05:49


Definately at 6-months, you are using reeds that are too stiff, but it isn't the emboucher that is the main problem, it's breath support. You need to train yourself to use a stiffer reed by playing on it, but you also need the experinece of how to properly send a smaller amount of air at the same speed to play softer. Very hard to learn on a stiff reed. So you have two choices, go to a lower rating of reed or continue to play on the stiff reed and put up with the hiss until your breath support improves. It's a physical exercise. You might play your lessons on a 2-1/2 reed then play ff long tones on the 3 or 3-1/2 until you're blue inthe face before you are finished for the day. It will wear you out.

Secondly, Vandoren reeds are notorious for inconsistency. In fact, they even bragg about it, with the argument going something like We vary the reed strengths so that every player will find at least one playable reed in every box. Well, I personally like to find ten playable reeds in a box, so I play on Rico Royals. (I must confess, however, that I am not as picky about my reeds as most players are.) My first instructor played on the same, 2-1/2 strength, about a 2 for Vandoren, for 50 years. Never saw any reason to change.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-06 05:24

Rick2 wrote:
...Secondly, Vandoren reeds are notorious for inconsistency. In fact, they even bragg about it, with the argument going something like We vary the reed strengths so that every player will find at least one playable reed in every box. Well, I personally like to find ten playable reeds in a box, so I play on Rico Royals.

Here I really must disagree with you. The max variability within a box is no more than +/- 1/4 strength (generally less) and this is easily within an experienced player's ability to compensate. Besides that on any given day, a slightly lighter or stiffer reed may be needed anyway.

Normally I get 10 out of 10 on a box of Vandorens. They suit me and my playing. On the other hand, I've tried Rico Royals and while I can of course play them, I don't like them one bit. They are a fine reed but do not suit me and I would not play them by choice.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Rick2 
Date:   1999-08-07 03:53

It is understood, of course, that every post here is prefaced with IMHO. I did exaggerate on the variance but not intentionally, it was late. Enjoy your Vandorens, that's why freedom of choice is so important.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: Karel Vahala 
Date:   1999-08-07 07:27

Many thanks to all of you. Karel.

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 RE: underlying hiss
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-10 14:50

Another opinion of the awful hissing...

There's a snake in your horn.

Okay, all kidding aside, it's usually due to not having enough air support for the reed/mp setup that you are playing at that time. If you cannot vary the mp, lighten up on the reed by buying a few reeds of softer strength. If you don't have the skills to doctor up your own reeds, or if you don't want to waste valuable time tailoring reeds, then the Legere reed is a good option. Fetch one reed of the strength you desire as the end goal, then fetch a reed of 1/2 a strength less, and then finally one full strength less. As I recall, Legere uses the Vandoren numbering system to gauge the relative stiffness of their reeds. Then, start with the really soft reed, learn how to produce no hiss with it, and gradually build up your embouchure and breath support to match the target reed. This may take some time, but it's worth it in the end. You will benefit by delivering a more pleasant tone, your practice sessions may last longer, you will probably be better in tune, and you will have a decent back-up reed in your case when your main reed breaks. It always happens when you need it the most, which is almost always in a dire situation before a key performance. Therefore, having a reed albeit softer than you would like but still quite playable is often a better option than trying to break in a new natural cane reed or learn how to play a strange plastic reed on short notice.

I personally opted for the lazy man's approach for my hissing/reed problem. I purchased a fleet of Legere 2.75 reeds for my Vandoren B45 mp. I also have a Legere 2.5 and a Legere 3.0 reed. I seem to like the Vandoren natural cane 3.0 reed that's been tailored down to 2.75, but I have neither the time nor the expertise to customize my own reeds at this time. So, the fleet of Legere reeds will serve me very well until I learn these advanced skills.

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