Bassoon Reed-Making

Bassoon Reed-Making

Bassoon Reed-Making    19:33 on Tuesday, November 02, 2004          
(Lady Munchkin)
Posted by Archived posts

I have played Bassoon for several years, and now I have finally ventured into reed-making. I ordered a Rigotti reed kit with all the supplies. And now, I find myself quite clueless without the book.

I have managed to make one nice reed for Bassoon.. through trial and error of course. But, I am still unsure of how to shape the bottom of the cane into a circle with the mandrel. (Without cracking the cane to pieces) If you put the wires on before you do this, or how to neatly wrap my threads.

I`ve already searched around google, so please don`t advise that..

But any other help besides "buy a manual" would be wonderful.

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    03:47 on Wednesday, November 03, 2004          
Posted by Archived posts

There are several excellent books available on bassoon reed-making, why not get one?

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    11:08 on Wednesday, November 03, 2004          
Posted by Archived posts

i`m pretty new at this bassoon thing, although i love my instrument... haha.. neways, b/c i`m new i can`t recommend any books, but do you know any professional bassoonists? like in a local orchestra? they most likely know how to make good reeds, and theey can probably help you.

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    12:21 on Wednesday, November 03, 2004          
Posted by Archived posts

if you go to you`ll find a really cheap book on the subject called Bassoon Reed Making by Mark Popkin & Loren Glickman.

the books only like $9.95. theres a lot of helpful info. Im learning to make my own too so make sure and update. tell us how it goes

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    16:15 on Wednesday, November 03, 2004          
(Lady Munchkin)
Posted by Archived posts

I really appreciate your help, but I am not in the current situation where I am able to spend much money on anything. There is one other bassoonist, but I would rather wait and see if I could help myself before asking him since he is quite.. the fellow.

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    00:36 on Sunday, November 14, 2004          
Posted by Archived posts

Get a private instructer by any chance?

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    03:41 on Thursday, September 29, 2005          
Posted by Archived posts

"I have managed to make one nice reed for Bassoon.. through trial and error of course. But, I am still unsure of how to shape the bottom of the cane into a circle with the mandrel. (Without cracking the cane to pieces) If you put the wires on before you do this, or how to neatly wrap my threads."

I have been making my own reeds for about 25 years now...

1) Buy G/S/P cane (I like Glotin, but it`s getting hard to find.)

2) Soak cane in warm water for 2-4 hours

3) bevel the inside edges of the cane at about 45 degrees from the throat of the reed to the base (Wherever there is still cane bark)

4) score the cane bark vertically about an 8th of an inch below the shoulder to the base - make 5-7 vertical scores through the bark but not the cane. Some folks also score this area diagonally in both directions.

5) Carefully fold the reed in half - I find it easy to place my knife blade along the centerline and fold the cane over it.

6) Place your wires. Wire placement and # is a personal preference - I use 3 wires at about 1/4, 1/2 and 1 inch from the base of the reed.(22 gauge soft brass - also a matter of personal preference)For correct wire wrapping - examine one of your comercial reeds - they`re done right if one side has two wraps of wire that DO NOT overlap and the other side has one wrap and the two ends twisted. Do the twisting with pliars and twist until the wire is snug but not tight.

7) Open the reed by carefully inserting a forming mandrel. If your kit didn`t include one of these (it`s longer and skinnier than a holding mandrel), you can use a long darning needle. Press the sides of the reed with your thumbs and work the reed until it conforms to the forming mandrel. As you do this, your wires will loosen a little bit. Take your pliars and pull the twists to stretch the wire and twist it snug again.
Continue this process until the base of the reed is as circular as you can get it.

8) Let the reed dry

8.5) (Okay I forgot a step) Ream out the base of the reed with a reamer until it fits comfortably on your bocal. (Some folks do this while the reed is wet, I think you get a better cut when you do it dry.) place the reed on the holding mandrel.

9) Tighten the wires again (they will loosen as the cane shrinks when it dries)and clip them so they aren`t too long - doesn`t matter too much on the upper 2 wires, but clip the bottom wire so that there are only 2 or 3 twists on the tail.

10) Tie your Turk`s Head knot. The best way to go about this is to lay the thread parallel to the reed from the base to the 2nd wire, then wrap a single, non overlapping layer of thread down to the bottom wire and a few turns below that. Bring your thread back up to the bottom wire and wrap a bunch of turns right on top of the bottom wire. Cover this wire entirely. When you can`t sse the wire (or not much, anyway), continue wrapping your thread from the bottom of the "pile" to the top of the pile in half a revolution of the reed, then from the top to the bottom for the other half revolution. When you get pack to the starting point, make your lowest point of the wrap a little bit beyond the lowest point of the preceding wrap. Continue until you like the look. Think ball of string. When you are satisfied with the look, tie the end of the thread right under the turk`s head with a half hitch. Snip the thread and clip off the tail that is coming out from under (the end you started with).

11)Seal your wrapping so your hard work doesn`t unravel...Duco cement works fine, fingernail polish works in a pinch. Just cover all the wrapping with a layer to stick it all together.

12) Let the sealer dry.

13) Soak the reed tip in water for a little while and clip the tip - be careful to cut both blades an equal amount and straight across.

14) Adjust the blade thickness to your preferences, but basically thinner on the very tip and edges tapering out so that when you hold the reed up to the light there is a thicker toungue of cane down the center. Be sure to adjust both blades of the reed so it vibrates evenly. Use a plaque (a flat guitar pick will work) carefully between the blades to support the cane and protect the blade that you aren`t working on.

15) Try to crow your reed (that weird noise that isn`t a shrill squeal) by blowing through it. if it crows, great! if not, keep working on the profile a little at a time until it does.

16) Try to crow your reed by sucking on the base of the reed. If it does, great! If it doesn`t, try taking a little more off the tip all the way across the reed. Keep messing with it until it works.

17) Seal the bottom of the reed with your index finger and suck on the reed - there should be a vacuum, and the blades of the reed should seal down, then release after a period of time with an audible pop. This ensures that your reed is airtight. If it isn`t, check the cane for cracks. If the cane doesn`t appear to be cracked, then most likely the edges aren`t sealed. Sometimes this can be fixed by tightening the wires a little more, or a careful application of duco cement.

18) Put the reed on your horn, and tune - if the horn is flat, clip the reed a little shorter (not too much at a time) until it comes in tune. (Your may have to do a little more work on the tip after this step. - See how it blows first), then clip the sides of the tip off on a 45 degree angle to give the reed a better look and more durability.

Hint: About the turk`s head knot - I tied wires and wrapped turks heads arount #2 pencils until I got the hang of it...Nobody steals your pencils, either. Seriously - it`s great way to practice without messing up a reed, and the wire and sealer aren`t necessary, so all it costs you is a little thread. (I use Coat`s and Clark`s carpet thread)

Repeat this process until you can`t stand it anymore, and scream swear words in a foreign language. But really - it`s fun once you get the hang of it.

Hope this helps.

Re: Bassoon Reed-Making    20:22 on Monday, October 03, 2005          
Posted by Archived posts

Ann, that is an incredible description of reed-making. All of us who would like to do this but haven`t a clue how to begin will thoroughly enjoy this discussion. If nothing else, it shows how much work is involved. All you reed-makers out there, thanks for your efforts!


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