Curing Cane « Clarinet Reed Making

Curing Cane

Curing is the process of wetting and drying your cane or blanks before you turn it into a finished reed.

To Cure or Not to Cure?

The benefits of curing cane are debatable.  Curing does have an effect on the performance of the reeds, however not all players find curing improves their reeds.  Each player needs to decide for themselves whether curing their cane is beneficial or not.  The best way to decide if curing is beneficial would be to make two batches of reeds, one cured and another uncured and compare the results.  For my taste and playing style, I have found uncured reeds to be the best.

Warping

Many players believe that a major advantage in curing is that after the curing process the cane will be less prone to warping.  I dispute this assumption.  Any organic material will expand when wet and contract while drying.  This expansion and contraction cause warping.  The best way to combat warping I have found is to rotate your reeds often while practicing so no one reed gets too waterlogged and also to store them in an airtight container with a humidity control device like the Rico Reed Vitalizer to keep your reeds stabilized.

Some Curing Methods

The methods outlined below are just a few variations on common curing practices.  They can and should be tailored to your preference.  The soaking lengths as well as repetitions of soaking can be altered in any number of ways.  It’s important to be consistent and methodical in your approach, that way a more informed decision can be made on whether or not the method is beneficial.

If the cane is soaked for a very long time(24 hours or more) you will see bubbles and discoloration in the water and there will be a strong odor.  This is the sap coming out of the cane.  Whether or not this is desirable is again, debatable and up to personal taste.

Tube Curing

  • Soak 8 hours or overnight let dry completely
  • Soak 4 hours, let dry completely
  • Soak 2 hours, let dry completely

Blank Curing

Blank curing is typically shorter than tube curing. During this process the blanks will warp, sometimes greatly, requiring a great deal of sanding work to flatten. Some players sand the blanks flat between each step.

  • Soak 2 hours, let dry completely
  • Soak 1 hours, let dry completely
  • Soak 15 minutes, let dry completely

Blank Curing Variation

Another school of thought on blank curing is to expose the cane to conditions similar to actual use.

  • Wet the blank for 15 seconds, let dry completely
  • Repeat this process 3 times a day for a week or longer.