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 Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: shostyscholar 
Date:   2013-01-22 22:24

Hopefully someone can help me with my dilemma.

Lately I'm struggling with making my reeds being up to pitch. They're good or great in virtually every other way. A few things are ruled out:

1) They're not too long, at least not grievously. They're 69.5-70.

2) There isn't too much cane out of the heart (based on my previous experiences and suggested thickness in a variety of sources such as Martin Schuring's reed diagram).

3) The opening doesn't seem to wide.

Are there other things I could think about to bring them up? They're about 7-10 cents flat on an A. They play fantastically otherwise, so do I just need to break them in at home for an hour or two? I've been making reeds for years but this has been something of a new problem for me so I'm a little confused.

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: JMarzluf 
Date:   2013-01-23 00:33

If your reeds are truly ideal in every other respect, then I would simply try a shorter staple (of the same make/model you are currently using). I switched to 46 mm staples years ago, and have never looked back!

It's a relatively easy matter to shorten staples you already have, even those with reeds already tied to them: just grind the bottom away on a sharpening stone. A diamond stone/plate works great for this. Start by cutting away the cork, using a razor blade, at the point at which you want the "new" bottom of the staple to be (i.e. .5-1 mm shorter). Then you can grind away the exposed metal until it meets the new cork line. (This method prevents you from accidentally over-shortening the staple.)

Let us know if this works for you -- I hope it does!



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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: Oboe Craig 
Date:   2013-01-23 00:46

If grinding, please wear eye protection...

I switched to 46 mm years ago after too many reeds as described in the original post.

I bought a bunch of 46 mm staples and then glued down my old 47s onto a nice piece of wood and made three rows of reed drying pins.

Still, if grinding, please wear eye protection...

Post Edited (2013-01-23 02:56)

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: jhoyla 
Date:   2013-01-23 05:56

Regarding shortening staples, I'm sure Jonathan didn't mean grinding with a wheel. Just rubbing the staple gently against a coarse sharpening stone (flat) will do this with a few minutes of effort. A grinding wheel will be difficult to control and you may end up destroying the staple.

It is possible to shorten a working reed on a stone - possible, but inadvisable IMHO. The flakes of cork, brass or german silver will contaminate the reed and the reed-well and I am certain that is not a healthy prospect.

Back to the original question; If you use an overlap you could try increasing the overlap gently. This has the effect of reducing the volume of air in the reed and making it sharper. It will become more resistant, however, and you may lose the responsiveness you so admired in your flat reed.


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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2013-01-23 06:06

Some may disagree, but I've been known to narrow the shape a bit with some silicon carbide abrasive paper to raise the pitch a bit. I don't like to shorten the reed to less than 69mm. One can also narrow the tip a little with a single edged razor blade to raise the pitch a bit. Before Madame Ghys died, I used her cane and had less problems with flat reeds.

You may wish to try a narrower shape.

The makers of store bought reeds used to use 45mm staples, perhaps to keep the pitch up. Good luck!

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2013-01-23 10:18

When I found myself with this problem, I tied my reeds about 2mm shorter. I tried tying a little longer to make my reeds a bit flatter, and ended up with reeds that couldn't use the D and C# trills because they were extremely flat (D trill was giving me C#!).

Ron Ford
Woodwind Specialist

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: jhoyla 
Date:   2013-01-23 11:26

I assume you mean that your final wrap leaves about 2mm of unwrapped staple projecting into the reed? Does this affect the tone?


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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: shostyscholar 
Date:   2013-01-23 21:18

So the overall length might be 72 instead of 74 (just example lengths)?

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: OboeLover4Life 
Date:   2013-01-26 16:10

I've had the opposite effects as Ron Ford. When I have tied my reeds on longer I've found them to be pitched higher and much more stable.

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: WoodwindOz 
Date:   2013-01-27 00:40

And conversely, I have been tying at 73 instead of my original 74, and between that and a 1mm lengthening of my scrape, my pitch has settled extremely comfortably around 440, rather than me having to lip it down all the time.

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2013-01-30 00:27
Attachment:  Reed Diagram 2.jpg (99k)

If you don't mind taking advice from someone still learning, have you tried scraping the corners of the heart? I have attached a picture to show the exact areas I'm talking about (the areas are in red). I feel the top two corners (toward the tip) focus a raucous reed and make it lighter. The bottom two corners (toward the staple) bring out the 2nd octave crow and round out the tone (and may even bring up the pitch, I'm still working on this).

Good luck

Drew S.

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 Re: Great reeds but a little flat?
Author: Octave C. Crow 
Date:   2013-01-31 14:33

You might be making the windows in the back too deep too soon. Consider removing only the shiny upper layer of bark and no more from the area behind the heart until quite late in your adjustment phase. Be sure the rest of the reed is balanced and has a good basic response and only then, bit by bit, make the windows thinner.

Another possibility is that the gouger blade is dull. This has the effect of flattening the overall pitch of reeds.

Personally I have not had good results with shortened tubes.

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