Reed Making Myths | Clarinet Reed Making

Reed Making Myths

Myth: I should improve my skills adjusting reeds before attempting to make my own reeds.

Adjusting finished reeds and making reeds are completely different disciplines. Before manual profilers existed the the skills were more related, but now with an accurate profiler you are basically producing a commercial grade reed that needs to be clipped. From that point the reed is ready to play and you can adjust the reed as you would any commercial reed.

Myth: Harder reeds are thicker.

No. Reed strength is determined by cane density. For example, all Vandoren reeds are made to the same specifications and then are strength tested and sorted. If you own a reed gauge you can prove this to yourself by measuring reeds of all different strengths, you will find no thickness trends corresponding to reed strength.  See the section on profiling for more information.

Myth: Hand made reeds don’t warp as much because they are cured.

Not true. Warping is a direct result of the expansion and contraction of the cane as it transitions from wet to dry. The more extreme changes it goes through, the more dramatically it will warp. This is simply a physical property of cane and does not change no matter how many time it is been wet and dried. Curing however, does seem to change the playing characteristics of the cane, which some players prefer.

Myth: Clarinetists don’t have to know how to sharpen reed knifes.

If you choose to adjust reeds with a knife, know how to sharpen it and sharpen and hone your blade often. A sharp blade will take off less cane, more accurately, requiring no pressure to remove material.

Myth: It’s so time consuming….I don’t want to be like an oboe player making reeds all the time!

Single reed making is a much simpler endeavor than double reed making.  Investigate an oboe player’s reed making process and you will see there are much fewer steps in the clarinet reed making process.  With the right tools, each step only takes minutes(or less). Also keep in mind these reeds last longer, so you will need less reeds overall.

Myth: Every hand made reed plays exactly the same because you have more control over the measurements.

Even if the dimensions of each reed are exactly the same, no two reeds will ever play alike because each piece of cane will be different.  However if you are achieving consistently precise dimensions on a type of cane that you like, your percentage of good reeds will be much higher than commercial reeds.