Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?

Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?

    
Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    06:08 on Friday, December 8, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

I've just bought some reeds via eBay, and I've been playing with one of them for two days, but I'm finding it very difficult. They are the correct bB ones of my normal grade (one and a half) but the one I'm playing with feels much stiffer than my old ones. For example, it definitely needs more lip pressure and harder blowing, and the notes aren't coming out as clearly as before. It also feels as if there's a slightly bigger gap between the reed and the mouthpiece, but maybe that's just my imagination.

I know from experience that changing to a new reed can sometimes be a bit difficult and that it can take some getting used to, but this new one is more difficult than any Iíve found in the past. Perhaps it's also aggravated by changing brands. I played with Rico Royals before, but the new ones are Ri Yin Jing Yan China.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Should I just persevere with the new reeds, or are there perhaps some "trade" secrets for breaking them in? Soaking them in water or scraping them or whatever? I've been learning the clarinet for a few years, but Iím not an experienced player. I don't have a teacher.



Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    16:02 on Friday, December 8, 2006          

laeta_puella
(344 points)
Posted by laeta_puella

I've never heard of that brand, but oftentimes brands can have a difference in how stiff hte same number is. for example, vandoren reeds tend to be half a step stiffer than the same number of rico reeds.

try soaking it in water for 10 minutes or so before you play. this may or may not help you, but sometimes i do this to help break in a new reed. really, unless it's just a bad reed, or you've ended up with stiffer than you intended, use is the best way to break them in.

good luck!


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    16:29 on Friday, December 8, 2006          

kato
(66 points)
Posted by kato

it is true different reeds have different strengths, but if the reed becomes water sogged you wont be able to get higher notes, and could sound bad, thins sometimes happens.
also, reeds can warp, you mentioned a bigger gap, make sure the reed is still straight, just sit it on a table and see.
you can also customise reeds. if you dont have the proper equipment, then wet/dry sandpaper does the job, however, i would not recommend this, as it is difficult to perfect, and you go through many reeds, i gave up. if you do try, the reed needs to stay symetrical'

there are care methods for reeds, such as cleaning the reeds after use. if found a good webpage about it a while back, but cant find it anymore~ill post it here if i ever do find it.

finally, there are some reeds that are just bad and cant be played on, there are a few in every box...


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    00:49 on Saturday, December 9, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

Hi

Many thanks for the helpful replies.

Thanks, laeta_puella, Iím starting to suspect that the brand could perhaps be (part of) the problem: different brand, inferior (?) brand. But Iíll try what you suggest. And I like your advice that use is the best way to break them in. Something like: when in doubt, play! Good advice indeed.

I think I should try to get a few Rico Royals again and then alternate them with these Chinese ones. I suppose itís always a good idea to have a few reliable, broken-in ones handy.

Iíve been hearing more and more about Vandorens, so I guess I should try one or two of them too. It seems theyíre highly thought of. I didnít know they tend to be stiffer though. Iíll bear that in mind.

Many thanks for your help.

Hi, Kato, thanks for all the ideas. Iíll check the reed for warping. I never thought of that.

Iíll carry on with this particular one a little longer, though I think I mightíve wrecked it already, because Iíve actually tried scraping it down. Not a problem though, as Iíve learned quite a lot in the process. But Iíll try another new one out of the box soon, and if it also feels difficult, Iím definitely going to try sanding it lightly. I can well imagine it must be quite an art, so I wonít be too disappointed if I spoil a few. But, then, I might just strike it lucky!

Yes, please post the name of that web page if you find it. It sounds as if it could be useful.

And, as you all say, thereís always a few duds in the box. Iíll remember that.

Many thanks.
Errol


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    12:16 on Saturday, December 9, 2006          

Band_Hault
(62 points)
Posted by Band_Hault

I found that these tips on this site are useful.
http://www.markmillermusic.com/Clarinet/clarreeds.html

It's like comparing vandoren reeds to rico. One is definatly harder than the other.


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    16:54 on Saturday, December 9, 2006          

kato
(66 points)
Posted by kato

that is the site i was looking for...well done


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    01:23 on Sunday, December 10, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

Hi Band_Hault

Many thanks for the link to that site. What a lot of good information! Iíll read it a few more times, but probably the most important thing Iíve learned from it so far is about rotating reeds. Iíve never bothered doing that in the past, but clearly itís the right thing to do, so Iíll defintely start doing that.

Hi Kato. Yes, I can see why you didnít forget that site. Iíve spent the last half hour reading it and following links. So much useful stuff! Iíll be going back there often again. Many thanks for mentioning it in the first place.

Regards,
Errol


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    15:15 on Wednesday, December 13, 2006          

devil-fo-lyf
(2 points)
Posted by devil-fo-lyf

my advice is to go to a professional music shop and take your clarinet with you can they will find the correct reeds for you


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    01:16 on Thursday, December 14, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

Hi Devil-fo-lyf

Thanks for the reply. Yes, that would be an option too, but unfortunately I don't know how well informed the shops are around here, if one can find a decent one!

Regards,
Errol
South Africa


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    11:01 on Friday, December 15, 2006          

AMB
(14 points)
Posted by AMB

I personally believe every reed player should learn how to adjust their reeds. As with anything else, practice is the best teacher! Since these reeds are not working for you now - they're perfect to use for learning how to make adjustments.

Since these reeds are too hard, start with scraping the reed using a reed knife or a very sharp pearing knife or straigt razor. Hold the blade at an 90 degree angle to the reed and apply very light pressure. Scrape in the direction from the heel toward the tip. Start at the beginning of the vamp (that's the half moon cut in the middle of the reed) and scrape to where the wood thins and becomes the tip. DON'T GO ALL THE WAY TO THE TIP! Scrape a few times to even the adjustment across the reed and then try playing it.

Only scrape a little at a time. Remember - you can always take more wood off the reed, you can never put more wood back on it!

Good luck with making your adjustments!


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    01:19 on Saturday, December 16, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

Hi AMB,

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, I have actually been trying something like that, with a certain amount of success. I also found similar ideas to yours in Jack Brymer's book "Clarinet". He even gets very fancy about scraping certain parts of the reed for certain effects.

Many thanks for your reply. Isn't it strange, for years I've never had problems, just took the reed out of the box and played (ignorance is bliss, I suppose), but now that I bought these of a different brand, I've found what an issue it can be.

Best wishes,
Errol


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    09:14 on Wednesday, December 20, 2006          

bareego
(61 points)
Posted by bareego

I found it cheeper to inspect the reeds before buying a whole box at the local music store.

They were obliging enough to let me have a look at all the reeds in a pack.
I'd hold it against the light and drop the ones that had some significant faults or asymmetric thickness somewhere. I also found it to be better to have a slight thickness at the centre, but that might be my personal preference.

Since I did this I had to drop a lot less reeds.

But in the end clarinet reeds are dirt cheap.. now that I've moved to bassoon it's like 10 times the price !

So be happy on your clarinet.
Cheers
James


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    23:09 on Wednesday, December 20, 2006          

ecollen
(7 points)
Posted by ecollen

Thanks for the comment, James. I'll bear it in mind. Sounds like a good idea to try.

I'll also remember not to switch to the bassoon! Enjoy it though. It's a great sounding instrument.

Regards,
Errol


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    19:23 on Thursday, December 21, 2006          

Band_Hault
(62 points)
Posted by Band_Hault

I know my reply is pretty late but that doesn't really matter now. Yes, it makes a huge difference if you "rotate" your reads because they last longer. You might not get the perfect sound every day but it'll pay off.

Oh and as they break in, I find that sanding them on regular helps.


Re: Why are my new reeds so difficult to play?    21:45 on Thursday, December 21, 2006          

bobo
(84 points)
Posted by bobo

it is just probably just you havent got use to the new kind but vandorens reeds are very good to learn to play on my band teacher told us not to play on ricos he actually snapped my friends rico in half and gave them vandorens


   








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