What are oboe reed windows? — Reed Tip #11

How can you distinguish a professional-quality oboe reed from a machine-made low-quality slab of wood?  Look for the windows!  Oboe reed windows impart darkness, focus, and stable pitch to the reed, but they need to be balanced to the rest of the reed — this takes much time and expertise.

Here’s how to identify this important feature, weed out bad reed choices, and balance your reed’s windows.


For the best results, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


 

American long-scrape oboe reed with windows
American long-scrape oboe reed with windows
German U-scrape oboe reed
German U-scrape oboe reed
French V-scrape oboe reed
French V-scrape oboe reed

Oboe reeds from around the world come in many shapes and ‘scrapes’.  The American scrape features one prominent section that others don’t.  Referred to as a ‘long-scrape’ reed, the American scrape features blades thinned almost to the string, whereas many other scrapes (French and German, particularly) usually scrape only the first third or half.

American-scrape oboe reeds feature windows in the ‘back’ near the string, roughly the back third to half of the reed, on either side of the spine (the center).  Notoriously difficult to photograph, these areas should appear much lighter under bright light than the surrounding features.  If the packaging allows, look for a defined spine and triangular shapes like this.  If you see them, the reedmaker has invested time in balancing the tone and pitch of your reed.  Otherwise, your reed will be less stable, potentially louder and buzzier, and will be more difficult to play.  It won’t have the “je ne sais quas”, the lovely mouth feel, or the singing quality of nicer reeds just a few dollars more.

Most if not all oboe reeds available in stores in America are long-scrape reeds, but not all feature balanced windows.

Reeds without deeply-cut windows vibrate differently.  Wedge shaped blades (thin tip, thick back) bring out the high, buzzy partials, making your sound piercing and difficult to blend.  Windows counteract this — they make the spine relatively thicker, stiffening the reed’s back, dampening this buzziness.  They also add a small amount of resistance to your reed (yes, actually desirable in small doses), allowing your lips to fine-tune and your air to do the grunt work of support.

Bad reeds will have a somewhat defined tip, windows that are too symmetrical (finished by machine, not hand-tuned), and maybe scratches side-to-side across the blades — a machine did most of the work, not tuned ears and trained hands.  If your reed sounds a bit thin and buzzy, you could try adding these features, but it’s better to invest in higher quality for a few more bucks.

Take into account your reed’s general makeup.  All features need to be in balance, and only study and experience will teach you what this is.  Windows should be slightly thicker towards the string and slightly thinner just before stopping at the bottom edge of the heart.  The spine should not be severed or thinned at any part — it should be a continuous dark line from the back up through the heart.

I’ll spend 15-30 minutes on each reed tuning, balancing, and enhancing the resonance through thinning, sanding, reforming the profile, and lots of tricks, including employing various aspects of well-adjusted windows.

A novice once asked a great reedmaker how to become an expert.  His answer: “It is simple.  First, you must fill a barrel with reeds.  Then you are an expert.”  Get started!


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


When is it time for a new reed? – Reed Tip #10

When is it time for a new reed? How can I tell that a reed is dying? Bassoon and oboe reeds are more expensive than clarinet or saxophone reeds – true. Double-reeds take much longer to make and are much more finicky. No one, including me, wants you to see this as a money-grab. Reedmakers are in the business of helping you sound good and enjoy playing, and we want your reeds last as long as possible (well, speaking for myself, anyhow). So, how can you fix a reed to make it last longer, and when is it time to move to a new reed?


For the best results, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


 

A few simple signs that your reed will soon shuffle off its mortal coil:

  • Chipped tip Depending upon the extent of the damage, this might not actually affect playing much at all, but it might make the reed unplayable. Chips near the center of the tip are slightly worse than chips in the corners. Low notes and high notes disappear first, then nothing plays. The remedy for this shouldn’t be attempted if you’ve never done it before — clipping the tip shorter and re-scraping is the only way to sharpen the tip’s edge.

Time for a new reed - reed damage - chipped tips - Tiger Reeds  

  • Cracks A crack is death. Think about it – your reed is vibrating hundreds of times each second. Only one ‘clap’ of the reed is enough to spread a crack down the reed’s grain. In essence, a crack makes a double reed into a 2.5-reed, or a triple reed, making the blades uneven from each other. Uneven blades don’t vibrate, so the reed suddenly stops making sound. There is no remedy; some advocate using superglue, but the polymers don’t vibrate the same as arundo donax (bamboo), and the chemicals *should*not* be anywhere near your mouth.

Time for a new reed - reed damage - cracked tips - Tiger Reeds 

  • Black mold Blekh. Gross. Yuck. Grody. Yes, it’s the same bacteria from your mouth, so it’s like sucking on a two-week old piece of chewing gum. Your reed has been dissolving and digesting for a long time — you’ve probably been storing it in the same plastic vial it came in, or in a pill bottle, probably wet, and only soaking the reed in your mouth, instead of in water. Reed Tip #2 “Why should I soak my reed in water?” and Reed Tip #3 “Why should I store my reeds dry?” are important for you. As for playability, softer cane collapses easier – your reed keeps closing, certain notes are really flat (like first-finger E on bassoon), and high notes are really hard to play. Your sound becomes mushy and generally bad. You can try cleaning the reed’s fibers by following Reed Tip #1 “How can I bring my reed back to life?”, but your reed won’t live long either way, and you’ll become frustrated much quicker.  It’s time for a new reed.

Time for a new reed - reed damage - black mold - Tiger Reeds

Regardless of any of the above situations, you should already have one or two backup reeds already broken-in. Always, always rotate reeds; never depend on one – if you’ve lost your best reed five minutes before your solo, you’ll understand true panic and you’ll never do this again.


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question? Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it! For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world: Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

How long will a reed last? – Reed Tip #9

Normal reed life can vary tremendously.  A professional, handmade bassoon or oboe reed lasts anywhere from five seconds to a month, maybe longer.

Five seconds?! I’ve seen plenty of students carelessly remove reeds from containers or cases only to drop them, chip the corners on their teeth, leave the reed on the instrument at break, remove from the case by the tips, etc. Instant crack/chip/destroyed reed.

Aside from catastrophic damage, a well-adjusted reed will go through three distinct phases: break-in, playing life, and deterioration. Many reeds can be ‘rested’ for a time (days, weeks, months, etc.) and will return to playing life, but the cycle becomes shorter with each repetition.


For the best results, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


Reed life cycle:

  • During break-in, your reed will be stiff, the tip will be too open, and it will tend to play too loudly and slightly flat.  For best results, soak (in water) and dry the reed many times, adjust the blades more shut (sometimes aggressively), and play the reed as in-tune as you can.
  • During playing life, keep the reed dry when not being played.  Grasp the reed by anything but the blades unless adjusting it. Enjoy it!
  • As the reed deteriorates, it will become unstable and dull. Some reeds close up and go sharp, while others become flabby and won’t respond. The cane begins to break down, producing a duller, less resonant tone. Reeds made with softer cane suffer shorter playing life and deteriorate faster than hard cane. Blackish mold is a very bad sign; your reed is being devoured by mouth bacteria — store it drier (i.e. not in a tightly-sealed plastic container).

Extend your reed life:

  • Soak your reed in water as often as possible.
  • Store your reed in a hard-sided reed case with a secure latch and plenty of air holes.
  • Grasp your reed by the non-playing surfaces — string, wires, cork — but never by the blades unless adjusting it — including inserting/removing the reed from the case!
  • Brush/floss your teeth and drink water — dirty mouth = dirty reed.
  • Be mindful of your reed’s location at all times — never leave your reed on your instrument during breaks or when resting. Your mouth and the reed case are safe places to hold your reed in the interim.
  • Keep your reed adjusted. A happy player = less reed biting!

To adjust your reed’s opening, you’ll find excellent tips in “Reed Tip #7 — How do I break-in my reed?” and “Reed Tip #5 — How and why do I adjust bassoon reed wires?

As a last resort, you can try reviving the reed’s fibers with a soak in hydrogen peroxide, but only one treatment is recommended, and the reed will deteriorate faster (H2O2 breaks down cane as well), but it can work magic in a pinch. Learn about the technique by reading Reed Tip #1 – H2O2.

Continue soaking the reed in water more frequently than saliva.  Once the reed refuses to revitalize, discard it.


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

What is ‘crowing’ …and why? – Reed Tip #8

If you’re a bassoon or oboe player or you’re associated with one (parent, friend, band director, and so forth), you’ve likely heard this word — “crow” — used both as a noun (test the “crow”) and a verb (“crow” the reed).

A “crow” is the rattly sound the reed makes by itself (not on the instrument) when blowing into it with your lips on the string or the wires (not touching the blades).  An ideal crow contains high, middle, and low pitches.

Crowing is the single most important diagnostic tool you have.  You can tell a lot about a reed by the crow.  And it’s very easy to do.


For the best results, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


 

How to do it:

  • Place your lips on the wires (bassoon) or the string (oboe), not touching the blades.
  • Start by blowing very softly.  You’ll hear a soft hiss as air moves through the nonvibrating blades.
  • Blow gradually harder.  You’ll eventually hear a soft, high pitch by itself.  This is the “peep crow”.
  • Increase your air speed, adding more notes.  When you hear a jumble of pitches, you’re in the “crow”.

Some people only test the “crow”, only blowing hard and making the loud, rattly sound.  This doesn’t tell us as much as feeling out the peep crow and main crow.

Using the information above, you can adjust the reed to fit you. Try adjusting the opening of the reed to make it easier (or harder) to play and to change the pitch of the peep crow.  An oboe reed should have a ‘C’ peep crow, and a bassoon reed should have an ‘E’ peep crow — use your tuner.

To adjust your reed’s crow, you’ll find great tips in “Reed Tip #7 — How do I break-in my reed?” and “Reed Tip #5 — How and why do I adjust bassoon reed wires?

Some notes will appear or disappear as you change the opening. Scrape from the tip, the blend, the rails, the windows, the back, or even the heart to change the sound profile of the reed.

Don’t know what those words mean?  Keep checking in here at the Tiger Reeds reed tips.


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

How do I break in a new reed? – Reed Tip #7

A new bassoon or oboe reed isn’t ready for performance — and you should be wary of a new reed that plays perfectly out of the box.  Prepare for closing and sharpness as it ages.  New high-quality reeds are a bit too hard, so how do you break in new reed?


For the best results, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


A good reedmaker’s reeds should arrive to you a bit ‘raw’ — too open when soaked for a couple minutes, a little too hard to blow, too raspy/buzzy when played, and perhaps a touch flat.

The first few days you have a reed, do the following:

  • Soak the reed and dry it. 3-5 times should do the trick.
    • Allow the reed to acclimate to your environment and its new shape.
  • Test the ‘peep crow’, the softest sound the reed makes (lips on string/wires).
    • Oboe reeds should peep crow around a C natural +/- 5-10 cents. Bassoon reeds should peep crow an E natural.
    • To adjust: (Expert level) too sharp: refine the tip; too flat: clip the tip shorter.
  • Calibrate the crow to yourself.
    • Lips on wire/string.  Blow softly, remember the pressure required to make the peep crow, then blow harder until all reed notes sounds simultaneously, and remember this pressure.
    • Manipulate the reed’s opening with your fingers until both first response and full crow are relatively easy to do without losing any notes. To do this, either open or close the reed’s blades.
  • Test ease of response on the reed’s ideal note: Play the reed using normal embouchure and normal air pressure. Oboe: match a C natural, bassoon: E natural, to your tuner. A steady tuner ‘green light’ should be relatively easy. Adjust tip opening to match.

Play the reed in-tune and beautifully its first few days. Cane adapts to your playing; start its life with quality.

As always, soak your reed only in water, and store your reed in a sturdy case that will allow it to dry completely.

Within 2-3 days of earnest playing, your reed should be fairly stable and dark.  Some take longer.  You get what you pay for!


Too much work?  Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it.

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
FOLLOW Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
LIKE Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

Why are my oboe reed blades offset? – Reed Tip #6

Oboe reeds must feature offset blades.

“Offset”: the blades are not perfectly aligned atop each other — each blade is slipped to one side of the other. However, one blade should not be fully inside the other — this must be remedied immediately.


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


Results of offsetting the blades:

1. Smaller internal space of the reed — much like a piccolo vs. a tuba, the smaller internal space results in a higher overall pitch.
2. Smaller tip opening — improved overall response, to a point.
3. Focused, less-flabby tone — more ‘one-note’, less ‘multi-note’ crow

Results of re-aligning the blades:

1. Larger internal space of the reed — lower overall pitch.
2. Larger tip opening — resistant response, to a point.
3. Looser tone — more notes in the crow

Therefore, one can control and balance these properties by affecting a change in the amount of offset.  And the best part?  You can very quickly undo the change!  It’s not completely permanent, though the reed needs a while to fully settle.

In order to adjust the offset safely:
Tools needed:  Blued-steel flat plaque, water for soaking.

1.  First, soak your reed in water for 2 minutes.
2. Carefully insert a plaque between the blades until you feel firm resistance. A flat, blued-steel plaque yields best results — a flat plaque vs. contoured plaque allows more space for squeezing.
2.  Slide the blades in the direction you would like using your fingers, a little at a time, periodically removing the plaque and checking the results.
3.  After removing the plaque, suck-seal the reed to seal the sides before crowing. To do this, seal the bottom of the tube with a finger, place the blades in your mouth, and suck with your mouth (not your lungs — they’re not strong enough) very, very hard. Pull the reed out of your mouth, keeping the end sealed. You should hear a ‘pop’ as the blades suddenly open. You may have to repeat this until the reed remains sealed for a moment before ‘popping’ open. Then crow and play-test. Readjust as necessary.

Learn how to easily check the crow in Reed Tip #8 — What is ‘crowing’ …and why?


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

How and why do I adjust bassoon reed wires? – Reed Tip #5

You mean they’re adjustable?
Grab your needlenose pliers!

You can’t mess this up! All changes can be reversed, unlike removing cane. Try small changes at first.


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


The reed’s wires control response, tone, and pitch.

In general, round wires = stiff reed, oval/flat wires = relaxed reed. Wires can be rounded to perfect circles or slightly oval and flattened to slight arches — try to not go too much further.
Both wires operate ‘opposingly’ to each other (squeezing side of 1st wire and top of 2nd wire do nearly the same thing, and vice versa).

Bassoon reeds feature three wires. One inside the Turk’s head wrapping (3rd/bottom wire), one above the wrapping (2nd wire), and one at the top of the tube just below the blades (1st wire).

A simple chart of effects:

1st wire

  • Round – open tip, flatter pitch, stiffer response, buzzier, louder
  • Oval/flat – closed tip, sharper pitch, easier response, mellow, quieter

2nd wire

  • Round – closed tip, sharper pitch, easier response, mellow, quieter
  • Oval/flat – open tip, flatter pitch, stiffer response, buzzier, louder

Round both wires equally- tip stays the same, sharper pitch, quieter, mellower, high notes easier

Flatten/oval both wires equally – tip stays the same, flatter pitch, louder, buzzier, low notes easier


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

Why have a thin reed tip? – Reed Tip #4

Reed and caliper

I’ll answer a question with a question: How easily do you want your reed to respond?  That’s how thin your tip should be. A professional, handmade reed’s tip will be paper-thin or thinner.

The #1 most important aspect of your bassoon or oboe reed is its response.  It must play easily. Only then can you contemplate pitch (#2), and resonance/tone (a.k.a. notes in the crow, #3).


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


The corners of your reed should finish out at around +/- .05 mm thick depending on the cane’s strength.

But a thin reed tip alone doesn’t make a great reed.  Though this aspect is the first mark of a master reedmaker’s knife control, the blend from the tip towards the heart (the thick area directly behind the tip) sets your reed’s character — the ease of response, the pitch, and the resonance in the tone.  This blend differs with each piece of cane.  This is the master’s domain.

If your reed’s tip appears thick (i.e. not bright) when viewed in front of a bright light or the crow plays only one note, you can thin it a couple of ways:

1. With knife:  shortening strokes, steepening angles.  Begin with your knife in the heart, halfway between spine and rail.  Scrape up past the tip.  Next stroke, begin slightly closer to the tip and angle your knife slightly to the corner, and subsequent strokes shorten the distance and angle your knife to the corner until it’s at a 45-degree angle and you’re almost on the corner.  This way, you’ll take more out of the tip’s rails than the center.  But this is a rather coarse method compared to the finer removal of sandpaper.

2.  Sand paper — 400+ grit, wet-dry (the black kind).  Place the sandpaper flat on a surface, just at the edge.  To set up the stroke, press only the reed tip flat onto the sandpaper, then angle it towards the corner, allowing only the triangle from the corner to the center of the heart to touch the sandpaper.  Stroke towards the corner, and manipulate your pressure and placement so as to remove more from the corner than the heart.  Alternate strokes are straight forward (more out of center of tip), sideways (more out of rail), circles either clockwise or counter-clockwise (accentuated removal from center or rail), and diagonally (more even removal from blend between tip and heart).

Test your results by placing the soaked reed in your mouth, lips on string (oboe) or the wires (bassoon) and blowing gently at first, gradually accelerating.  If the reed responds at a satisfactory point for you, you are done.  If not, continue thinning the corners and tip.

You can contact Tiger Reeds anytime to ask reed advice and troubleshooting.
Just visit the ‘Contact’ link at the top of the page!


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


 

Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds

Why should I store my reeds dry? – Reed Tip #3

Drying cane on a riverbank

Bassoon and oboe reeds are made from “arundo donax”, a dense bamboo in the grass family.  It is an organic product that degrades over time, whose structure efficiently gathers, transports, and holds water.

Unfortunately for your playing career, that water also serves as a breeding ground for bacteria that want nothing more than a meal.  Store your reeds dry to protect against degradation.


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.


The Situation:
Your reeds are turning color (darkening), developing an unpleasant odor, breaking down, becoming soft and soggy, or otherwise dramatically changing in color, and/or developing a strong odor or taste.

As mentioned in the previous reed tip, “Why should I soak my reed in water?”, bacteria from your mouth are the first step in digestion. Anaerobic bacteria do not survive or eat in the presence of oxygen and the absence of water.

The Remedy:
Your reeds should be dried completely between playing sessions.
This should happen at a relatively fast rate — the reeds should be dry to the touch within a few minutes and in ‘crack danger’ within an hour (i.e. you could not squeeze the blades shut without concern for cracks).
A hard-sided reed case with a secure latch and air holes is the best choice. In a pinch, an Altoids can lined with paper towels will work. The case must have several large air holes in the top lid, sides, and/or bottom for adequate air exchange. The plastic vial/cap or the ‘coffin’ your reed arrived in is the worst possible choice for storing your reed — you are guaranteed to chip the corners or tip while placing it into the case, and the airtight environment is ideal for bacteria to survive and eat your reed.

Pros
:
Lower (or zero) chance of mold growth.
Reduced odor/taste (indicating less bacterial growth).
Longer reed life/better playing life.

Cons:
None.


Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds
“Drying Cane” picture copyright Evelyn Simak and used by permission of [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Why should I soak my reed in water? – Reed Tip #2

Bassoon reed and oboe reed in water


Bassoon reed and oboe reed in water

Students and clients of mine are often left to wonder, “Why does he insist so strongly that I soak the reed in water?”

If I could term one habit as ‘miraculous’, this might be it.  In order to improve every aspect of your reed’s life, soak it in pure water rather than your mouth.


First of all, start out with an excellent handmade reed.  Check out Tiger Reeds — they’re not ‘cheap’; they’re excellent value.
Avoid machine-made, mass produced 2×4, buzzy monstrosities — check out the reed options and try one!  Visit the Reeds page to purchase.

The Situation:
Your bassoon or oboe reeds are turning color (darkening), developing an unpleasant odor (stinky), or otherwise breaking down and becoming soft and soggy faster than expected.

The Remedy:
The reed should be soaked in pure water rather than saliva before it is played.  As an additional step, a rinse or quick dip in water at the end of playing will further help remove any accumulated deposits.
A clean medicine/pill bottle is an excellent reservoir, and if crushed it will not shatter like glass.  Wash it out periodically, and do not store water in it.

Pros:
Color will remain vibrant golden-white for much longer.
Odorous compounds will be diluted and flushed from the reed.
Reeds will play better for much longer (better response, better tone, more consistent over lifespan).
If water is carried in a convenient, watertight container the inconvenience is nonexistent; taking the extra minute to soak the reed in water provides tremendous long-term benefits to the reed’s life, vastly improving your performance ability and helping out your bank account.

Cons:
The small bother of pouring water into the reed soaker cup.  If you find filling up a 30ml bottle too difficult, be prepared to purchase many more reeds in the meantime.

Have you seen the Reeds page yet?  I hand-make every one!  They’re excellent value and they last a long time.  Don’t take my word for it; read the Reviews!


Do you have a puzzling bassoon or oboe reed question?
Ask the reedmaker and he’ll make a post about it!

For the latest news from Tiger Reeds and the bassoon and oboe world:
Follow Tiger Reeds on Twitter – @TigerReeds
Like Tiger Reeds on Facebook – Tiger Reeds