reed geek

There is a new product out for adjusting reeds and it is called the “ReedGeek.” All of the edges can be used in place of a reed knife. It is safe enough to handle without cutting yourself, but sharp enough to adjust reeds precisely without ever needing to sharpen. Each of the long edges are perfect for flattening the reed table. Three smaller edges are useful in adjusting the rails and the tip. The very edge of the ReedGeek is like having an eraser to take off small particles of wood for balancing.

I have had mine for three months now and I love it. I can adjust reeds faster and more accurately than using sandpaper or my reed knife. I am interested to see if it stays sharp and truly doesn’t need sharpening.

I have updated my ClariNotes Newsletter to inlcude the ReedGeek.

Liked: Rico Reed Factory Tour

Last year, I was able to go to Burbank California and take a tour of the Rico Reed Factory. Since Rico was bought out by D'Addario several years ago, the company has been a hotbed of innovation. I have been playing Rico Reserve Classic reeds for the past three years and have been impressed with their quality and consistency. Before this time, I was a devoted Vandoren player and before that I made my own reeds. The Curious Clarinetist has a blog post describing his own visit to the Rico Factory. It is really well done with great pictures and a video of the reed making process. This post matches closely my experience in visiting the Rico Factory. It is a great “reed” that you should click through to check out. :)

The tour was amazing and so were the people I met there. They are such incredibly passionate people who care about their craft deeply and are constantly looking to produce better products. It was inspiring and fascinating to see what it takes to produce that little piece of cane which is absolutely necessary to everything we do as clarinetists.


Reeds, Reeds, Reeds

For three years during my doctoral studies I made my own reeds from blanks. I enjoyed the control I had over what my reeds felt and sounded like and I learned a lot about the adjustment process. Due to the time commitment of making them, I now play on Rico Reserve Classic reeds. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from making my own reeds was that you should never play on a bad reed. Adjustment can turn many bad reeds into great ones. I use sandpaper techniques as well as a reed knife to balance and cure the reed. Through sanding, the pores of the reed close, the back obtains a mirror-like finish, and the reed lasts longer and is more consistent. The reed has a huge impact on how we sound and how we feel while performing. You will learn much through trial and error and the time spent to find great reeds will really pay off.

Conditioning Reeds

When you buy a new box of reeds, it is really tempting to find the first good reed in the box and then play it until it dies. The problem with this approach is that the reed won’t last as long as it should. It is better to play through each reed in the box, marking the good ones, and then letting them get conditioned.

What to do when you open a new box of reeds:

  1. Play each reed for 2 minutes.
  2. Mark good reeds with a pencil.
  3. Use a reed case or guard for storage.
  4. Don’t play on the same reed each day. Alternate them.
  5. Have at least 4 great reeds to use at all times.

Adjusting Reeds

With some simple sanding, many mediocre reeds can be turned into great reeds. The reed affects our confidence and enjoyment in playing the clarinet. There isn’t any reason why students should suffer through playing on a bad reed. With a few easy steps, a good reed is within reach.

  1. If the reed is too stiff: Using 600 weight wet/dry sandpaper, sand the back of the reed in circles. (25 circles, then rotate 180 degrees, another 25 circles)
  2. If the reed is unbalanced (when one side is stiffer than the other): Using 320 weight wet/dry sandpaper, sand the front of the reed along the rails, the tip, and right above the bark. Avoid sanding in the heart of the reed.
  3. If the reed is too soft: Use a reed trimmer to clip the tip.

You’re only as good as your reed!

View Reeds Keynote