Reed quality

Reed quality    15:30 on Friday, January 12, 2007          

(53 points)
Posted by Blower

Here's a question for all those clarinet players who, like me, use Vandoren V12 reeds. Has anyone noticed a marked variation in quality?
I buy my No. 3s in boxes of 10 (it works out cheaper in the long run) but in any one box, there's usually just one (perhaps two if I'm really lucky) that really sings out. From the rest, one or two are virtually unplayable, whilst the remainder are, well, just okay.
Am I being too picky? For the prices they charge, I don't think so. What do you think?

Re: Reed quality    09:18 on Saturday, January 13, 2007          

(60 points)
Posted by Ida

I guess that's just the way it's supposed to be. You can't be sure that you can get only playable reeds in a box. That's got something to do with the way the bamboo is cut and how it's transportated. I don't throw so many away though, so maybe you can keep some just for practising

Re: Reed quality    19:51 on Sunday, January 14, 2007          

(129 points)
Posted by AJ9090

that happened to me, also. About 5 of my reeds were of really good quality, but the other 5, i had a hard time with.

Re: Reed quality    23:50 on Sunday, January 14, 2007          

(1 point)
Posted by philster1949

I see the same thing. Don't know if quality control is a problem or some reeds just work better with my mouthpiece than others. Hate to throw away so many reeds, though.

Re: Reed quality    18:55 on Monday, January 15, 2007          

(344 points)
Posted by laeta_puella

often a reed that seemed bad when first tried will be more agreeable if you leave it alone for a while and come back to it in a few months. i've heard them compared to wine before- sometimes they just need to be aged a little longer. it's even more annoying wiht bass clarinet reeds, though- they come in boxes of 5 instead of 10, so you end up with one good, occasionally great reed, a few usuable ones, and one or two that you could never play on. thats why i have a drawer in my desk for them- just stick them back in the box in there and come back in a few months.

Re: Reed quality    06:31 on Wednesday, January 24, 2007          

(10 points)
Posted by Concert_Master

That's really funny. Up until just a week or so ago I used the traditional No. 3 Vandoren reeds, but I said, "Ahh, the hell with it!" and went the V12s for the first time. The first 2 reeds were brilliant, the 3rd no so great and I'm just on the 4th and its a bit averagey. For $48.95 for a 10 pack I would expect the rest to be pretty darn good.

As for modification of reeds, I just read about the "Reed Resurfacer and Reed Stick" A touch of Glassso they say. Its basically a glass stick used for customising the reed. I can imagine that it could assist if you knew how to use it right, although u cant really take anything off the reed i suppose? Does anyone know anything about that, or is it just some cheap Vandoren ploy to get our money?


BTW. I think that a 10 pack of normal Vandoren reeds is about $36?? And note: These are all AUSTRALIAN dollars, not american, not singaporean.... etc, u get the point.

Re: Reed quality    14:23 on Wednesday, January 24, 2007          

(53 points)
Posted by Blower

Hmm. I don't want to get into Conspiracy Theory mode here, but Concert Master has set me thinking. The last box of Vandoren V12's I bought had inside it a leaflet extolling the virtues of their 'resurfacing sticks' or whatever they call them. I can't help wondering, though, why on earth their reeds - if they are as good as they are supposed to be -should be in need of resurfacing in the first place. After all, as Clarinet Master rightly points out, almost 50 Australian dollars (that's nearly twenty pounds in proper UK Sterling) ain't exactly hay. If I'm paying that kind of money, I don't see why I should have to fork out even more cash for some gizmo or another to make 'em playable.

Re: Reed quality    05:59 on Thursday, January 25, 2007          

(10 points)
Posted by Concert_Master

Amen Brother!!

Re: Reed quality    13:14 on Saturday, January 27, 2007          

(62 points)
Posted by Band_Hault

Oh my gosh. That's all I can say for starters. lol. Sometimes, I'll get a box that doesn't work at all naturally. Like the others said, try adjusting them. Most times sanding them works. Other times I have to get my special blade and cut part of it off. And other times, I give up for the time being.

Sometimes I bend the tip of the reed but that sounds weird. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about right? What's it called?


I forgot, this one time I found a reed that I had bought almost a year ago and it worked so well.

Re: Reed quality    19:19 on Thursday, February 22, 2007          

(35 points)
Posted by AllanMc

Sorry to burst your conspiracy, but reeds have always been like that, and all makes have the same general problems. Because reeds are machine made, they don't usually come out great; they need to be worked on. It's annoying, but it's better than making your own.

If the price bugs you, go to They sell reeds for much less than you'll find elsewhere.

Finally, if you're ever feeling annoyed about your reed problems, find an accomplished oboist and try complaining to him or her. You'll soon be set straight.

Re: Reed quality    10:40 on Friday, February 23, 2007          

(59 points)
Posted by theperson108

I just learned like three things from this thread.
1: Reeds are made from Bamboo? (wow I'm stupid)
2: Reeds are way to expensive, and whoever sells them is trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you.
3: V12s are variety packs, I'll assume.

Well, normally I buy reeds from my director, but just about a few weeks ago, I actually bought a box for myself. I'm wondering, would a.... 10 or 12, I forget, pack have this variety, because I've been very busy and I have only had the chance to use one of the reeds.

Re: Reed quality    17:20 on Friday, February 23, 2007          

(35 points)
Posted by AllanMc

Well, not actually bamboo. That's a different plant, but they are made from a woody grass generically called cane.

Re: Reed quality    08:27 on Sunday, February 25, 2007          

(2 points)
Posted by Korte

You can't find two similar plants, so the reeds can't be exactly identical. They made by machines and the quality of the product must be in a defined interval.
I'm using Vandoren reeds too, but not the V12. In a 10 piece box there are about 2 or 3 instantly playable reeds. My teacher told me how can I adjust them to my playing style. Some of them are too strong and some of them are not evenly trimmed. I bought the finest emery-paper (1000-1200 in european standard) to adjust the thickness and the surface of them. You can use straight razor for the adjusting procedure, but you have to have some experience, the emery-paper is the safest way to adjusting very carefully.
Anyway, Vandoren haven't been selling adjusting kit for their reeds until a few years ago. They communicated that the reeds are perfect as they come out from the machine. Now they have the adjusting kit, so this means that the reeds are not as perfect as could be. IMHO the price is not related to the quality, so I buy the cheaper Vandorens because it's quality is even much better than my playing skills.


Re: Reed quality    12:38 on Saturday, March 3, 2007          

(70 points)
Posted by stevesklar

Yes, remember reeds are from plant material and vary accordingly.
Vandoren has several good articles on how reeds are made .. I'll try to find a link to it and post it later.

I believe Vandoren also has a reed glass plate. Reeds may not be flat, which causes a problem creating the seal with the mouthpiece table. You could alter this by really tightening down on the lig, but that would also damped it.

In short, you can take your reed and place it on a flat piece of glass and see how flat it is (from looking below). If it doesn't look flat, then use some 400+ grit sandpaper - normally wet sandpaper and very lightly sand it only pushing down in the middle of the back, uncut part.

But the Vandoren glass reed resurfacer thing makes it a easier

here's also a short article on how to recognize a good reed while going through boxes at the music store. It may not be perfect, but it can help to get consistent reeds

Re: Reed quality    20:45 on Saturday, March 3, 2007          

(84 points)
Posted by bobo

i know what u mean it just a shame to pay a bunch of money for 10 reeds when only like 4 or 5 of the things work i think it is riduclous sorry i cant spell


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