The weather in Minneapolis took an upward turn overnight last night. Our temperatures are now in double digits above zero for the first time in weeks! With a dramatic change in weather you might find a change in your reeds.
I don’t know if anyone has come to any scientific conclusions on how reeds react to different weather changes, but for most of us we just know that when the weather shifts, so will our reeds. We just don’t always know how they’ll change. There are some things you can do to even out the bumps though. These tips might also help you when you travel to a slightly different climate or altitude than your home. Your Mileage May Vary.
Try soaking up your reeds briefly, then just putting them away. Give them a chance to adjust to the new weather pattern without stressing them by playing. You’ll find they’ve acclimated to the new conditions the next day.
Long term, you can spend more days in the reed making process. I find that a reed that has some time to settle as a blank before beginning the finishing process, and given frequent but short playing sessions for the first week after finishing, will usually be more stable over weather changes (and last longer) than reeds made and finished in just a few short sessions. For single reed players, this translates to a gradual break-in process for new reeds out of the box.
For more tips, visit the Tips and Resources section of our blog.
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Brass wire is one of the crucial components of a bassoon reed. Its placement and how it’s put on the cane have a profound effect on the way the finished reed plays. We offer several gauges of wire, and depending on many factors, you may actually want to try a mix of different gauges. You don’t need much wire for any single reed, so even a 2oz. spool can provide enough wire for dozens of bassoon reeds.
The gauge for brass wire for bassoon reeds will typically be between 21 and 24 AWG. The higher AWG (American Wire Gauge) number the thinner the wire. Thinner wire will take up less space on the reed and theoretically allow freer vibrations of the reed, especially when used at the first wire position. If, for your reed design, the wire is too thin, it may not support the cane enough, and it can more easily break if you need the wire to be tighter. Heavier gauge wire will be more supportive, but may dampen the vibrations of the blades, especially on the first wire position.
Some reed makers I have spoken with will use all the same gauge wire (I personally use 22 for everything), while others will use thinner wire for the first wire closest to the blade, while using heavier wire for the third and/or second wire. Feel free to experiment and see if you find enough of a difference to use different gauges!
As for where to put the wires, there is no consensus in the reed making community on where the wires should go. The wire placement is largely a component of the reed shape, as the wires create the support structure for the fulcrum of the reed that helps keep the tip open.
Once you’ve made your reed, adjusting the wires can be a simple way to alter the playing characteristics of the reed.
Happy reed making!
Those of us living here in the upper half of North America have been experiencing an unusually frigid winter. As a result, here in the repair shop we’ve been seeing some severe binding of keys and mechanisms with Grenadilla instruments. Wood is a natural fiber which will tend to “breathe” and either contract or expand depending on the weather. Cold and dry rooms will cause the posts that hold the actual keys in place to move closer together, causing keys to bind. This shrinking of the wood also has the tendency to cause rings on the tenons to become loose and sometimes fall from the instrument.
You can try to prevent some of these problems in the following ways:
- Store your instrument in a warm, humidified room.
- Always allow your instrument to acclimate to any indoor temperature prior to assembling and blowing warm air through it.
- As always, swab out your instrument after every playing.
By taking a few of these precautions, you may avoid problems with your instrument seizing up or even cracking.
Midwest Musical Imports Repair Department
Eric Anderson & Matt Reich
Last time on our bassoon care series I talked about the different types of cases available for bassoons and how well they protect the instrument. The other time our bassoon needs some basic protection is when we’re leaving it along, but not in the case. Unfortunately for us, the bassoon isn’t an instrument that you can safely lay down on a chair…
We don’t sell many “kitschy” things here at MMI. We prefer to focus on the practical tools, materials, and references that a bassoonist needs to make music. So when looking for gifts for the bassoonist in your life you’re not going to find bassoon neckties, tree ornaments, bassoon statues, or t-shirts. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but if you’re a non-bassoonist overwhelmed with a wide variety of tools and accessories you don’t know anything about (and that’s totally okay) but want to give a bassoon related gift, here are some suggestions on what many bassoonists will be quite thankful to receive in the gift-giving season. Read the rest of this entry »
In this week’s installment of care related posts for bassoonists, I’d like to talk about instrument cases, and safely transporting your bassoon from home or practice room to the gig or rehearsal.
In the next coming weeks I’ll be offering some basic care tips for bassoonists. Following some basic care procedures can greatly enhance the look of your instrument and improve the performance of your bassoon between regular visits to your repair technician.
Swabbing your instrument after every playing session (or within a longer playing session) is the single most important thing you can do to keep your instrument in good playing condition. Excess moisture in the instrument while being stored can lead to water problems while playing, damaged pads, and extensive damage to the wood. Swabbing your instrument isn’t a difficult task, but it has to be done properly to ensure the process is doing what it’s supposed to do, and doesn’t result in inadvertent damage.
Repair technician Eric Anderson offers some thoughts on identifying when you have a crack in your instrument.
If you’ve been here before, you might have seen this post discussing the various bassoon options that Midwest Musical Imports has available. You might have been looking to upgrade your bocal and found this information on Heckel bocals. But if you’re buying for the first time, or upgrading to something new, you might not know for sure how to best make a selection from the choices you are given. Even if you have decided to try a Heckel CC1n bocal, or a Fox professional model bassoon, each bocal and instrument is a bit different and unique. So how do you choose? What process can you use to organize your thoughts and make a satisfactory choice that you know you’ll be happy with for years go come? Here are my personal suggestions on methods for testing and selecting an instrument or a bocal to go with an instrument. Read the rest of this entry »
Reeds 'N Stuff Bassoon Tip Profiler
Cut your reed making time down by more than 80% with this tip profiling machine. Extremely accurate and adjustable, the Reeds 'n' Stuff tip profiler does more than 2/3 of the total length of the reed, and uses a more accurate template following design than the competitors. The comfortable wood ..