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 permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-07-17 12:05

I'm engaged in a test of something I heard from a talented young musician in college. His teacher keeps his saxophone reeds permanently wet in a 50-50 solution of vodka and distilled water. They float (and sink) in a tupperware container. My friend started using the method last November.

The idea is new to me, but has been around for some time:
http://johnschroder.co.uk/js/?page_id=87

It has been two weeks of my test, and although this is not long enough to tell if it lengthens the life of the reed, they play beautifully, with no loss of response or tone quality. I'm cautiously hopeful.

Has any on the board tried such?

Vann Joe



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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2012-07-17 12:55

There are commercial products - Reed Vitalizer is one that's often discussed on the BB - that are meant to maintain a constant humidity around the reeds when they are stored in order to keep them from completely drying out. You're right, the principle has been around for a long time. I don't know about actually floating/submerging the reeds in water. I guess the vodka contributes by keeping organisms from growing (mold, bacteria, etc.).

Apart from potentially causing reeds to become waterlogged (you don't seem to find this happening), the problem with this system is that it doesn't sound very portable, which is the advantage of Vitalizer and the various humidity-maintaining reed cases on the market. You do most if not all of your rehearsing and performing away from your practice studio and carrying around containers of liquid in your instrument case can be tricky and, in the event of an accident, messy.

Karl

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: jmsa 
Date:   2012-07-17 14:38

Tell him to get rid of the water and simply drink the vodka. LOL

jmsa

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2012-07-17 15:01

If you get stopped for speeding after a concert you may get arrested for DUI.
Actually it sounds strange to me. I'm surpirsed the reeds don't get water sogged and moldy. I've never heard of such a thing. When I was a student I experimented with keeping my reeds damp. It worked for about a week and when the reeds began to play too hard and would not respond well I let them dry, that's when they wouldn't play at all after getting wet again, they warped and wouldn't seal and sounded like toy plastic. The Vitalizer is a much better idea in the long run. ESP eddiesclarinet.com

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Lee 
Date:   2012-07-17 15:36

My high school band director ( a brass player) said that the reeds would last longer when kept in a 50/50 mixture of eucalyptus oil and wood alcohol. I tried it for a while but found any additional life was not worth the taste!

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2012-07-18 09:32

I feel it's all about the player. Of course cane varies sooo much. I will write later this year about my experiences with 15 years at Rico, actually I'm the designer of the Grand Concert reeds as some of you fellow readers know. Rico made around 20 million reeds a year, so myself and the sax player had our work cut out making the best reeds we could. We both doubled so if one of us got sick, well no problem.The reeds were covered. After Joe, the sax player got sick and passed away the company hired 2 other sax players, but they weren't as good on the clarinet. However I did train some of the players to play the clarinet reeds. I hear they have a couple of fine players now.

Kind of a funny story. I love deep sea fishing. I called in one day saying I had a cold. Well I went fishing, but forgot about how fast a person can get a tan in California. Well that went over well when returning to work with a tan.

Because of the cane never being the same quality from year to year and picked from several places finding perfect cane for the top pros playing the Grand Concert reeds actually came from other places then the Var region of France. There are cane fields in Argentina. Vandoren gets cane from there as well. However some cane came from the Var area depending on the weather.

When making Mitchell Lurie reeds I'd pick out some every month for him to test. Not a lot, perhaps 25. Well he'd somehow pick his favorite reed out of the batch and play it for around 6 months. After playing it he'd give it to me for measurement and often I would play it. It was just fine. Felt like it was new. With Mitchell I wasn't concerned about germs. Anyone else except for Fred Ormand, the reeds never touched my mouth. Fred was one of my instructors way back in 1972.

So in Mitchells case I think it was how his body was built. Very little acid in his system, so the reeds wouldn't break down. Added, he had a very light bite. All air support.

For me I don't bite at all, but the reeds only last about 6 weeks. This is with heavy playing.

I messed with oils, vodka, sealers, and alot of other solutions. All of them failed my tests. I tried refrigeration. I pretty much tried everything I could think of as well as what theories other musicians came up with.

Although I must have thousands of Rico reeds all over the house, I don't play them ever. At the moment I'm into the Vandoren 56's. Recently I played a few boxes and they were so good I bought around 20 boxes. If you find some boxes of reeds that work, buy as many as you can from that lot.

So for now, as a reed expert, this is my best advice and theories.


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


Yamaha Artist 2015




Post Edited (2012-07-18 09:49)

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: mrn 
Date:   2012-07-18 16:22

Quote:

My high school band director ( a brass player) said that the reeds would last longer when kept in a 50/50 mixture of eucalyptus oil and wood alcohol. I tried it for a while but found any additional life was not worth the taste!


Wood alcohol (methanol) is highly toxic and can cause blindness or death, depending on the dose, and the dose doesn't have to be that high. The EPA says that 80 mL of methanol (that's about 1/3 of a cup) is enough to kill a person (see http://www.epa.gov/chemfact/s_methan.txt; see also http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947357226). Moreover, ethanol can enter the body via ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin, so you don't have to drink it for it hurt you.

So you should NEVER use wood alcohol (or anything containing wood alcohol) on reeds--the reeds might last longer, but you won't.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2012-07-18 16:57

If your interested I just wrote something as a reply on the new posting titled "reed science", check it out. ESP

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2012-07-18 18:24

The eucalyptus oil and wood alcohol advice come from the Australian player Kenneth S. Jaffrey in a 48 page booklet called Reed Mastery, published in 1956. It was mentioned in Woodwind World, and I immediately ordered a copy.

Jaffrey was a great enthusiast for eucalyptus oil, which he said cured all reed ills. He advised mixing it with "alcohol in the form of methylated spirits," putting it in a bottle and soaking reeds in it. Pharmacists keep eucalyptus oil, so my-father-the-doctor ordered the mixture, except that he and the pharmacist agreed that methyl alcohol must never be ingested. He instead used ordinary ethyl alcohol, plus an emulsifying agent.

Even with the emulsifier, the oil and the alcohol separated immediately. I soaked a number of reeds in it but there was no difference. Also, the oil smelled strong and stung my lips.

Just another crazy thing clarinetists do.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2012-07-18 18:45

Ken Shaw wrote,
>> Pharmacists keep eucalyptus oil, so my-father-the-doctor ordered the mixture, except that he and the pharmacist agreed that methyl alcohol must never be ingested. He instead used ordinary ethyl alcohol, plus an emulsifying agent.

Even with the emulsifier, the oil and the alcohol separated immediately. I soaked a number of reeds in it but there was no difference. Also, the oil smelled strong and stung my lips.
>>

Thank you for that warning about methyl alcohol. During the Prohibition years in the USA, people who resorted to drinking methyl alcohol did themselves permanent brain damage. Among other things, some of them ended up "walkin' jake-leg," a spastic, stumbling gait -- and some of them died. I'm no doctor and I imagine the amount of methyl alcohol someone could get from licking a reed soaked in the stuff would be tiny, compared with what a booze-hound would imbibe from a stash of bathtub gin, but if the stuff doesn't even work on reeds, then why take any risk at all with it?

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2012-07-18 18:51

perhaps the suggested reed improvement mixture should be published on the sax board.
The band world might become a more peaceful place then!

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Claireinet 
Date:   2012-07-20 19:43

Hmm... interesting. Made me think- Has anyone ever experimented with salt water?

If I remember correctly you can wash/soak fruits and vegetables in salt water rather than detergents. The theory behind it having something to do with creating an imbalance between the insides of organisms and the surounding environment(the salt water).

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/409252 -- found this about how it works (probably not the best/most comprehensive info out there but just the result of a quick search)


So- maybe using salt water for soaking rather than regular water might have some effect???? I might have to try it out myself.

Edit: Just occured to me that perhaps using salt water as a soak before using the reed might not be so great for the rest of the instrument ... if the salty-ness were to pass through. Any ideas about that? Maybe it would work to use salt water as a post-use rinse before drying and putting away reeds and fresh water as a pre-use soak?



Post Edited (2012-07-20 19:48)

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2012-07-20 20:12

The first time I ever read instructions for a humidity-maintained reed storage system was sometime in the 1960s. It definitely involved a salt water solution in the container to maintain a specific level of humidity - much like the modern Vitalizers, but much bulkier in a jar or other vessel. The reeds didn't sit in the solution - it only controlled the humidity level - and, like the OP's system, wasn't portable. I don't remember what the salt level was in the solution. I don't think it was supersaturated, but I don't remember.

Karl

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ed 
Date:   2012-07-21 01:57

Quote:

Thank you for that warning about methyl alcohol. During the Prohibition years in the USA, people who resorted to drinking methyl alcohol did themselves permanent brain damage.


I suppose that may be why they thought their reeds were better!

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-07-26 16:43

After 3+ weeks of testing, I've reached a verdict of the effectiveness of keeping reeds in a 50-50 bath of vokda and distilled water.

The purpose of the experiment is to find a way to keep superlative reeds superlative without deterioration over time. For me this is important, for many clarinetists report they get 20+ hours of playing time from a good reed. I don't get that. I get 6 to 8 hours from a good reed.

In Donald Casadonte's dissertation, he concluded it is the colonization of the miniscule chambers within the reed by Staphylococcus epidermitis that cause the deterioration of the reed. Such colonization changes the mass and shape of the reed, affecting its tonal characteristics. (Other maintain that use of the reed causes minute breaks in the structure of the wood, causing the deterioration.)

My tests are based on the presumption that colonization is the culprit.

I can conclude that the alcohol does change the tonal characteristics of the reed over time. This is a slow process and one not readily noticed, but I encountered one instance where I can attribute changes to a reed solely to the alcohol bath:

Two days ago, I adjusted a Vandoren 4, and never before in my life had I played on such a fine reed. It was mellow, full bodied, resonant, readily responsive. It reminded me of a fine violinist playing a fine instrument, with a fine bow and fine strings. Think of the glorious rich resonance of the violin's low tones. That is what this reed had in all registers. It wasn't good -- it was superlative. When I went to bed, I was anxious to get up to practice with that reed in the morning.

That reed had bathed 2 days in vodka-water bath before I put it onto a mouthpiece to try it in the first place. I found it needed minor adjustments. When I had made those adjustments: WOW!

The next morning, after less than a half a day longer in the bath, the reed was good, maybe excellent, but it had lost the Stratavarius quality it previously had. I tried multiple placements on the mouthpiece, and it was gone.

I probably could not have reached a conclusion on the effectiveness of the bath within this time frame from just evaluating changes in mere good or excellent reeds. It took that one special one to reveal the alcohol does have detrimental effects on the cane.

I am now starting trials on 3 other disinfectants, for the vodka is not the grail I seek.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2012-07-26 21:43

Rich Corpolango uses/used a vodka mixture for his reeds so I have heard.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.ClarinetLessonOnline.com


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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2012-07-26 22:55

I forgot something. Not unusual for me since I tested so many ways of gaining a longer life to reeds.

There is one trick I used and it's not a new one, but something passed down from the pro's for many years.

It's good to seal reeds. The back of wet&dry sand paper has a wax on them. If your reeds have settled in and play really well sealing the reeds with the back of this sand paper can work very well. I not only do this to the bottons of the reeds but also with the top.

Well why? It helps keep the acids from ones mouth from penetrating the reeds. Well it works, sometimes of course cane quality is factor.

I've seen other pro's take oil from their foreheads and the nose area and seal the reeds this way. Seems gross to me, but I would think it would work as a sealer. Since some of the great pro's did this, whom am I to disagree. Hope this helps. Let me know what others think.


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


Yamaha Artist 2015




Post Edited (2012-07-27 00:09)

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2012-07-26 23:20

Gigliotti never believed in sealing the reeds, as he felt that it brightened the tone.

I sure do seal them, so does Ricardo.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.ClarinetLessonOnline.com


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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2012-07-26 23:56

Once you start soaking reeds for extended periods do not stop. If you let them dry out they will warp and become unplayable. Some players in high elevation locations use extended soaking periods with success.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ed 
Date:   2012-07-27 00:32

I never had any success soaking my reeds long term. For my tastes, they feel mushy and lack the response and tone I like. I have known some fine players who do it, but it does not work for me.

It goes to show you, different things work for different people. The only way to know is to experiment.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-07-30 15:01

I previously mentioned testing three other disinfectants to see if they would prolong the life of reeds. I have to report failures on two of them:

1. Hibiclens, a surgical scrub. In a strength of one teaspoon to one-half cup distilled water. Hibiclens' active ingredient is chlorhexidine gluconate, plus detergent.

2. Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant (which needs to be ordered on-line for groceries and pharmacies no longer carry the original formulation, but sell other formulations) in a strength of 1/4 teaspoon to 1 cup distilled water. Lysol's active ingredient is e-Benyl-chlorophenol, plus detergent.

Both of them use chlorine in the antimicrobial molecule, and both contain detergents. With both within 5 days the reeds lost responsiveness and tone quality. Either the chlorine or the detergent broke down the fibers in the reed.

This is a different route of failure from how the vodka worked against longevity. Dr. Casadonte predicted the alcohol failure in a private email:

"Ethanol, although slightly polar, is also a fair organic solvent. As such, it has the potential to not only degrade the lignin in the reed, but also interact with the cell wall micelles (it will trap water against the cell matrix for a while, but, eventually, the alcohol will cause the cell wall to contract), causing cellular shrinkage. In this respect, prolonged use will damage the reed. The darkening of the reed that the website you linked to mentions is not caused by water saturation (which does occur), but rather, probably by a change in the reed cell matrix. On the other hand, saliva contains salic acid and mucosins, which, when dry, become water impermeable. The alcohol will dissolve the mucosins to a good extent and so keep the reed surface water-absorbing for a longer time.

"In other words, there are competing processes going on and in the short-run, the vodka mix will keep the reed playable, but in the long run, will damage the reed. Exactly the cross-over point in time where the vodka is a plus and not a minus is not known."

I do have one promising candidate: Povidone-iodine 10% (Betadine). It contains no detergent and no chlorine. Its action is slower than tincture of iodine, but tincture contains alcohol. I am using it in a strength of 2 teaspoons in 1/2 cup distilled water.

I anyone would like to test it concurrently, that would be great. These are the steps I use, should anyone want to experiment as well:

1. Soak 3 fresh reeds 24 hours in the iodine solution before trying them on a mouthpiece. (My thinking is when the S. epidermitis enter the reed they will find an inhospitable environment, and die rather than colonize.)

2. Wipe the wet reed on a clean paper towel, put it on the mouthpiece, and adjust as necessary. Use a Sharpie indelible pen (laundry pen) to number the reed, and give it a numerical grade, which you record on a piece of paper. Do this for each of the 3 reeds. Return each to the iodine bath.

3. On each following day, take each reed, wipe dry and test it (adjusting further as necessary). If the process to lengthen the life of the reed is working, the score you now assign it should be equal to, or greater than, its initial score. Feel free to use one of the reeds for your entire practice session, in order to give it "real-life" use.

4. Change the iodine bath weekly.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2012-07-30 15:46

I never really saw what the obsession with disinfectants was all about. Why not just change the water very often, if you're concerned about it?

Of course, that might not stop 'colonisation of the miniscule (sic) chambers within the reed by staphlococcus epidermitis', but then, doing nothing wouldn't stop that either.

I've tried a variant of the technique, on and off, over the years:

http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/lookup.php/Klarinet/2001/10/000417.txt

Tony



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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2012-07-30 16:03

Gino Cioffi said he never took the reed off his mouthpiece until it died. At the beginning of a session, he took his (crystal) mouthpiece, held the bottom end up and poured water through it.

It seemed nutty to me then and still does.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-07-30 23:15

Tony,

Mark Charette started a topic "Reed Science" on 7/17. In it he gave a link to a doctorial dissertation by Donald Casadonte.

http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi?acc_num=osu1210865836

In that dissertation, page 258 in the Adobe Reader, page 238 by the numbered pages, Dr. Casadonte wrote:

"The effect of the bacteria on the clarinet reed is three-fold: 1) it adds mass to the clarinet reed tip, 2) it reduces the range of motion of the tortorsional and bending modes, and 3) it changes the overall shape of the reed tip. Contrary to Heinrich's assertion, this particular bacteria does not harvest the reed matter for food (it is one of the types of bacteria which gets its nutrients through the extraction of sugars in saliva, as we mentioned earlier), and so the degradation caused by the reed [sic, "bacteria"] is on the physical response of the reed and not on the material itself."

My thinking is if we can find a way to inhibit the bacterial colonization within the reed without damaging the cane, we will prolong the life of the reed. And when you find that really, really, really fine reed, it would be wonderful to prolong its life for many months. Thus the tests with the disinfectants.

Vann Joe

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2012-07-31 09:05

Yes, it's a good thought; I have skim-read the dissertation, and I wish you well with your endeavour, though I'm not overly optimistic:-(

My post was rather directed at the exaggerated fastidiousness that I feel to be misplaced in the clarinet world, and which surfaces here from time to time, though not especially in this thread.

Tony

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: mrn 
Date:   2012-07-31 17:17

Quote:

My thinking is if we can find a way to inhibit the bacterial colonization within the reed without damaging the cane, we will prolong the life of the reed.


Seems like you could do just that without all the nasty chemicals by doing any or all of the following:

1.) Brushing your teeth before you play to reduce the prevalence of the bacteria to begin with and also cut off their food supply (you could also use an oral rinse like Biotene [also available as a chewing gum], which apparently has enzymes that break down oral sugar)

2.) Using water to wet your reed instead of saliva (again, this cuts off their food supply)

3.) Rinsing your reeds with plain water after use (physically removing the bacteria and their food)

4.) Ensuring that the reeds have a chance to dry out thoroughly after you use them (living organisms need water to survive/reproduce).

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2012-07-31 17:55

>> Seems like you could do just that without all the nasty chemicals by doing any or all of the following:>>

What follows sounds wise, given the hypothesis: will do more thoroughly than already.

Tony

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: mk 
Date:   2012-07-31 23:49

ken.....ur kiling me!....as a former clarinetist and now pharmacist, you are potentially planting seeds in the minds of the weak to experiment with unsafe chemicals.
I am by the way not opposed to DNA cloning of great reeds....no ethical problem from my viewpoint....lol. Save your emulsions for salad dressings.

mk

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-08-01 12:04

Yeah, cleaner is better, but it doesn't solve the problem, for you just need one S. epidermitis to enter the reed and give it a little time. Depending on environment, they can divide every 20 minutes.

9:00 p.m. 1
10:00 p.m. 8
11:00 p.m. 64
12:00 a.m. 512
1:00 a.m. 4,000
2:00 a.m. 32,000
3:00 a.m. 262,000
4:00 a.m. 2,000,000
5:00 a.m. 16,000,000
6:00 a.m. 134,000,000

Pasteurization is also possible. You can pasteurize eggs without cooking them, for the temperature does not need to be very high provided the time at the temperature is longer. I'll also look to see if there is any equipment available to heat to a temperature and maintain the temperature for a specified amount of time.

I do hope all parents teach their children that life is fragile, and substances used without due respect can kill a human being: table salt, distilled water, aspirin, etc.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2012-08-01 12:48


vjoet wrote:

> Yeah, cleaner is better, but it doesn't solve the problem, for
> you just need one S. epidermitis to enter the reed and give it
> a little time. Depending on environment, they can divide every
> 20 minutes.
>
> 9:00 p.m. 1
> 6:00 a.m. 134,000,000
>
> Pasteurization is also possible... I'll
> also look to see if there is any equipment available to heat to
> a temperature and maintain the temperature for a specified
> amount of time.
>

Hate to say it, but if that's the length you'd need to go to, I'd opt for just replacing my reeds as they deteriorate. Most of what I've read in this thread, even apart from the dangerous suggestions, seems like just too much trouble, and reeds aren't so terribly expensive.

Karl

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-10 18:35

Karl wrote:

"1.) Brushing your teeth before you play to reduce the prevalence of the bacteria to begin with and also cut off their food supply (you could also use an oral rinse like Biotene [also available as a chewing gum], which apparently has enzymes that break down oral sugar)

2.) Using water to wet your reed instead of saliva (again, this cuts off their food supply)

3.) Rinsing your reeds with plain water after use (physically removing the bacteria and their food)

4.) Ensuring that the reeds have a chance to dry out thoroughly after you use them (living organisms need water to survive/reproduce)."

All good suggestions, however, the bacteria attach to the xylem walls with a nonpolar glucosidic bond, so, water, alone, will not flush them out.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Buster 
Date:   2012-08-10 20:08

I personally keep my reeds permanently wet with a mixture of worm-wood aged absinthe. Perhaps the success I've obtained is due to my altered state of mind, impending blindness, or mere grasping at straws due to the alleged hallucinations that blossom from that quirky alcohol.

At any rate, success, if the "wet" path is chosen, relies on the ability to keep the level of cane "wet-ness" in check and limiting the growth of any bacteria, or more importantly mold, at bay, but just don't get a tan if you go fishing or golfing, as those are my vices that may cause me problems with my current employment.

I recommend absinthe as a long-term soaking agent for its second-hand effects; you won't care how your reeds play.


Vodka, or better Tanqueray, may be a slightly improved choice; if flavor is a controlling factor.

I forget what Mitchell Lurie said about my reeds, but Lee Morgan was enamoured with my reed work.


I do bite, but in a controlled manner. And another former "instructor", Fred Ormand, likewise had nothing but praise for my knife work and reed longevity.

Interestingly enough, neither of them "believed" that sealing the the reed had any positive effect. Perhaps I fooled them as certain reeds that I prepared had a slightly polished table and vamp. They couldn't discern when it had been done.

I do drive well so I've never been pulled over for a DUI/DWI after a concert even if I might have blown over the limit, though it would be a false reading as the ambient alcohol level in my oral cavity would be much higher than in my blood-stream.

-1066

<bustersclarinet.com>



Post Edited (2012-08-10 20:10)

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: dtiegs 
Date:   2012-08-11 04:08

I read through the posts, and it seems that a large amount of people have stated that keeping bacteria from growing on the reed will extend its life.
The other day, I was in my orthodontics office and they had used a light to harden the glue that bonds the brackets onto my teeth. It suddenly occurred to me that medical tools are disinfected by lights. UV Lights. I do not know the limits, it is simply just a thought. To my knowledge, which doesn't say much, UV Light don't seem to have an obvious effect (warping, water logging, unpleasant tastes) on the reed.

DTiegs


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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-13 16:16

I discussed the effects of UV light on the reed in my dissertation. It does not penetrate very far and even if it killed some of the bacteria, they would still be bonded to the xylem walls. One has to break that bond before one can flush them out. Now, ultrasonics might work, but it would decrystalize the reed. A water-soluable antibiotic that breks the bacterial bond sticking it to the xylem would be best and cure one if the four breakdown pathwa

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-13 16:18

I discussed the effects of UV light on the reed in my dissertation. It does not penetrate very far and even if it killed some of the bacteria, they would still be bonded to the xylem walls. One has to break that bond before one can flush them out. Now, ultrasonics might work, but it would decrystalize the reed. A water-soluable antibiotic that breaks the bacterial bond sticking them to the xylem would be best and cure one if the four breakdown pathways.

Donald Casadonte

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-08-13 23:40

Well...I wasn't going to post onto this thread till my current tests produce results -- one way or another, but since Dr. Casadonte, the author of the dissertation which prompted my experiments has joined the board, I think a brief summary of current testing is appropriate.

1. With the failure of the vodka, Hibiclens, Lysol, I've discontinued the permanently wet tests.

2. I now moisten the reeds for 2 to 3 minutes in a bath of 1/2 cup distilled water, and 2 teaspoons of Betadine.

3. When I change reeds in my practice session, I dip the used reed into the disenfectant bath, and set it to dry with the flat side up (to expose greater surface to the air).

4. At the end of the day, I pasteurize the used reeds by putting them into the over, set at 170 degrees Fahrenhite, with the internal fan on, and dry them there for about 40 minutes. (If the process turns out to be beneficial, I'll purchase a fruit - herb dehydrator. Amazon has many listings; the one I've looked at runs $33.)

It is too soon to tell if the process will truly extend the life of the reed.

Vann Joe

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-14 23:55

At the end of the day, I pasteurize the used reeds by putting them into the over, set at 170 degrees Fahrenhite, with the internal fan on, and dry them there for about 40 minutes.

I did differential calorimetry on the heated clarinet reed for my dissertation. You might want to look at the graphs to make sure that none of the hemicelluloses are volatilized at that temperature. The reed contains up to maybe 3% water in the intercelluar matrix. Removing this water causes the cell walls to shrink and increases stress on the matrix. It might stop the bacteria from growing, but it will also change the mechanical properties of the reed. I would do the opposite direction and cool the reed.

Donald Casadonte

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2012-08-15 00:50

A microwave oven dries things quickly. Start with 15 seconds and go up from there.

I got this idea from the von Huene workshop, which makes professional quality recorders. The block (the bottom of the windway) is made of cedar, which gets wet from condensation as you play. When they work on the voicing, they need the cedar block to be dry, which they do by microwaving it briefly.

The other method is from Kalmen Opperman. Hold the reed between your left thumb and index finger. Squeeze the top of the vamp between your right thumb and index finger and slide them down off the end of the tip. Continue until the reed is dry -- perhaps 15 strokes.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2012-08-15 01:00

I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity people show in developing solutions for problems which do not exist. Reeds are expendable, and even the best of them must eventually go to reed heaven. Most players seem to avoid dying of dreadful diseases contracted from reeds, this is why we have immune systems. Just take normal sensible precautions, discard reeds when their time has come and enjoy the (germ-laden) music. Find something more important to worry about.

Tony F.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-15 17:04

I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity people show in developing solutions for problems which do not exist.

The problem exists. Whether or not one feels it is worth solving is another problem. It is, nevertheless, good to know what is causing reeds to breakdown even if one chooses to toss them.

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Buster 
Date:   2012-08-16 02:02

I am also constantly amazed at the lengths which clarinetists go to to somehow dismiss blatant gaps in their own playing to the slight variations/death-rattles that might arise in any said clarinet reed.

We can pass time soaking our reeds in any variety of distilled spirits, baking them, UV disinfecting them, or resorting to pasteurization; or we can spend time actually playing any somewhat acceptable reed as a functional piece of cane for a somewhat parenthetically limited time period without those extended "techniques."


Problems may exist; solving them is a somewhat personal choice. Or we can all stop complaining about a problem, making it into a far larger matter than it truly is and simply play the stupid clarinet.

-Jason

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-16 20:24

While I agree to some extent, reeds cost money. It is both a scientific question and an economic necessity to find the cause of reed breakdown. How many good reeds do you get per box? Suppose you only found the perfect reed once. It might be nice to hold onto it a bit. I don't want to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but reed companies hope you never find a way to preserve reeds.

Donald Casadonte

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2012-08-16 20:59

I don't think it's so much a question of whether or not knowing why reeds deteriorate is important or useful. It's more an issue, once you have a plausible explanation, of what lengths are worthwhile to go to in order to preserve a reed as long as possible.

Scientific study of the problem, as you've done, is always important. We need to know what the choices are before we can make them.

Karl

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Buster 
Date:   2012-08-16 23:14

Donald,

If I spoke a bit out of turn I apologize...

A scientific study done for a dissertation is one matter; I admire the tedious observations and tests done to generate data and stated prose that result. The patience required to dissect all components of reed survival, let alone the skill to translate raw data into coherent prose, are skills that I would admit I do not possess.

Though I currently am in a temporary retirement from active professional performance, I can answer your posted query from my own personal experience:

How many good reeds do you get per box?

Reeds that were reliable in a performance setting?... I would say 1, maybe 2, in most cases; though an occasional box would offer 3 or 4 if the planets aligned. Or none in other cases. I should honestly state that I would simply disregard a reed if it immediately didn't strike my fancy without any adjustments; having suited equipment was part of my job and I didn't have time to fool around with possibly suspect reeds beyond a light touch-up--- if only to keep some semblance of sanity.

If an occasion arose where I found nothing to feel exactly as I would like it to be (which is truly a frequent situation) I would have to rely on making those 80% reeds function as if they possessed no faults.


Suppose you only found the perfect reed once.

I don't know if I have ever found a perfect reed... though I have found several that I'd classify as exceptionally excellent.

Regardless of any interventions, some of those reeds would last 3 days and cease to offer me anything while others would last 3 months in spite of blatant abuse.

Others may have actually improved after a week. I might surmise that the accumulated bacteria made the tip heavier, and thus less responsive, somehow tempering the other less than ideal qualities of a reed turning it into a far more comfortable tool.


Reed companies hope you never find a way to preserve reeds.

Perhaps so... but several do offer special reed-cases and humidity packs intended to keep any reed functional for a longer time period; whether they are merit-able or not is up to the user. Maybe we'd guess that those purchasable tools are simply a ruse to make money and not more useable reeds over an extended period of time.

Yet, preservation is always a limited proposition no matter what means are employed.


...economic necessity to find the cause of reed breakdown

As a performer... not really. Once a reed was dying, it immediately died as I smashed the tip against the stage floor.

For students, more so. In all honesty, I spent more time addressing reeds, a tad in words to lengthen their life-span, and more so with knife in hand--- making adjustments to remove any empty excuse they might have thrown at me to justify any "problem" they were experiencing. Many of my 50% reeds were adjusted for my students needs than they were for my own travails.

Or I could simply play their bacteria laden setup without their reed-attributed errors to remove all support they might attempt to concoct to explain an "error."



I simply didn't have the time, ganas, or patience to bake or pasteurize my reeds. Other ventures, be they musical, jovial, or self-degrading in nature offered more self-gratifying and personally fulfilling ends to occupy my attention.

-Jason

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: Donald Casadonte 
Date:   2012-08-17 12:30

Bacteria are not the only cause of reed death. There are at least four, such as leeching of the hemicelluloses causing the reed to be less water absorbing, deplasticization of the reed matrix, and salic acid deposition. There is only one fool-proof way I know of to stop reeds from breaking down and that is parylene infusion. Vann Joe is simply trying different off-the-shelf methods to increase reed life. There is no harm in that and perhaps he will hit on a simple method. It is increasingly rare to find such citizen science going on, today. We have become a disposable society. I can't afford to buy box after box of reeds, not at those prices, and I don't live in a climate where Arundo donax grows well so I can't grow my own. I don't mind a backyard inventor trying his luck on lengthening the life of a reed.

I wrote:

"Reed companies hope you never find a way to preserve reeds."

You replied:

"Perhaps so... but several do offer special reed-cases and humidity packs intended to keep any reed functional for a longer time period; whether they are merit-able or not is up to the user. Maybe we'd guess that those purchasable tools are simply a ruse to make money and not more useable reeds over an extended period of time."

Whether or not they are meritable is exactly what my job as a musician/scientist who specializes in reed research is to find out. There is too much anecdotal evidence and not enough good science. I do not work for a reed company specifically because there is so little good research available to the general public that I want my data to be in the public domain and not proprietary. In fact, I am working (health permitting) on a website that will act as a reed resource page and perhaps allow players to help in the science. Granted, musicians have gotten along with basic reed knowledge for 200 years, but reeds are such an interesting material that they can keep the few of us doing research (all five of us) busy for years. Basic science is an end in itself. When that science can be applied, everyone benefits.

Donald Casadonte

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: vjoet 
Date:   2012-08-17 14:22

Never in my wildest did I foresee such interest in the testing, both supporting it and pooh-poohing it.

I think it safe to say all (more advanced) clarinetists are a bit frustrated with reeds. A portion of this is directly attributable to the companies making the reeds, in that they put reeds of varying strength into a box marked as a certain strength. That alone precludes from being acceptable a number of them.

All of us reserve for performance our best reeds.

The synthetics are good, and equal all but one reed in 3-4 boxes.

Donald, when you get your site up and gear up for renewed research, I suggest this: Contact the country's finest clarinetists, and ask them to send you their one, current best reed, specifying the mouthpiece they are using with it. Irradiate them upon arrival so they don't change during investigation, and analyze them in infinite detail. The professionals stake their reputations on them. Let's find out what makes the reeds special. Perhaps funding would be available from the major reed manufacturers.

Vann Joe

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 Re: permanently wet reeds
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2012-08-17 14:42

"Contact the country's finest clarinetists, and ask them to send you their one, current best reed, specifying the mouthpiece they are using with it."

lol--I think you'd have better success attacking clarinetists while they are on stage, wrestling them to the ground, and forcibly removing the reed. I don't recommend this, as you'll need considerable back up to deal with security guards and law enforcement.

But maybe you can get grant money for it...;)


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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