Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tim Price Bloggin For D'Addario Woodwinds- - The Art Of Bassoon Reed styles


 This is a omnibus I use to add focus on reed making-kind of like a hands on reed adjusting and focus- You might know it and know the end results- But worth it

Learning how to scrape bassoon reeds can be a long process as much of how you learn will be based on trial & error.

The purpose of this section on Bassoon reeds is to help people get a better handle and understanding on the adjustment and the techniques of coming to grips with these double reed issues
Dig this- it just takes some basic common knowledge issues. Plus don't be afraid to make a mistake.

You can either use a file or a knife which must be kept very sharp using a sharpening stone for scraping the reed. When scraping the reed insert a bassoon plaque to support the reed and your knife / file. When scraping bassoon reeds only take a minute amount of cane off at a time and then try playing the reed before doing more editing. This is important as once you have scraped the reed you cannot reverse what you have done!

Below are some very generalized areas of the reed in which you can scrape to hopefully achieve the desired effect. The following points are very generalized as each reed is very different to the one before due to factors including the density of cane, when the cane was picked, direction of the grain, etc... and so how you scrape each reed and how it reacts will vary.

Generalized Effects After Scraping this Area:

A: Freer & flatter low register
B: Softer reed
C: Flatter low register
D: Easier tonguing & easier ppp in high register
E: Less resistant low register & overall flatter
F: More freedom & flexibility BUT weaker "sound" & stability
G: Makes sound brighter, more flexibility & easier tonguing  


  • When played loudly the reed doesn't play E or C# in the stave in tune. The E and / or C# dip flatter. After making sure the reed is balanced (see above) and the 2nd wire is tight clip off a very, very small amount of the tip of the reed off at a time. Then try the reed playing those two notes very loudly, continuing to clip until you no longer have a flat & unstable E.

    For a  bassoon reed to work at it's best (vibrate at its optimum level) it needs the be correctly balanced. This means that the reed should have the same thickness of cane on both front and back blades and on each half of both blades (see diagram below).
    If you are having a problem with your reed(s) the first step should be to check that it is correctly balanced as this quite often will solve the main problems with the reed.
    Below are 2 methods to use to check if the reed is balanced and if it is not, find where the issue is and correct it. For all of the tests you will need a very sharp reed making knife or diamond coated file to correct the issues.
    The following tests involve cane being removed from the reed. Therefore it is important to note that once you have removed the cane you can not put it back, thus only take a little cane off at a time! NOTE; So much info on these is compiled here. This is some ideas- techniques that are tried and true. I sure didn't invent these- I'm passing info/ pictures and thoughts out there.

    Bubble Test

    In this test you are aiming to have the opening at the tip of the bassoon reed, the 'bubble', symmetrical at all times. Place your index finger on one side of the bassoon reed and your thumb on the other so that they are both in the center back of the blade (so that if the bassoon reed wasn't there your thumb and index finger would be touching). Now gently press the fingers towards each other so that the reed starts to close at the tip (Try to keep the pressure of your finger and thumb equal).
    Ideally, when you are applying pressure to both sides the bubble at the tip of the bassoon reed will close equally on both sides so that when quite a lot of pressure is used both blades at the tip will touch at the same time. If they do, you need not do any more to that part of the bassoon reed.

    If the reed doesn't close symmetrically then note the side of the blade where the tip has the larger asymmetrical opening. Then go directly towards the back of the reed until you are in line with your finger and remove a small amount of cane from this area. Then redo the test with your finger and thumb in the same place and remove more cane if necessary until the reed begins to close more symmetrically and is thus more balanced.
    Repeat the whole process, each time moving your finger and thumb closer to the tip of the bassoon reed and then start at the back of the reed again but on the side of the reed and work forward again until your fingers have touched every area if the bassoon reed blade.

  •  Testing the reed ;

    This test uses a bassoon plaque & is very simple to carry out.

    Place the plaque in between the blades of the bassoon reed and then pull the plaque gently to one side of the reed so that you can see the longer edge of the plaque (diagram, right). Once you have done this you will be able to compare the edges of the blades of the reed. If one area is thicker than it is on the blade directly opposite from it, use the reed making knife or diamond file to remove cane from the thicker side. Once the one side has been checked pull the plaque to the other side and repeat the same process.

    This is the end of this info based blog- I'm trying to keep this info on tap so you younger folks have a " go to" to answer immediate question and TRY to get a result. The availability of books and help is becoming low so ...if this helps you that's WHY I did it...Have fun and don't give up- this world needs more bassoonists- Tim Price

    - Here are 2 sources of amazing information I love and drew much knowledge from- find them and study ok?!

    Although making your own bassoon reeds sounds impossible, this is not the case. I suggest with the help of a teacher- and these two books you try to get started as soon as you can.
    Bassoon Reed Making by Mark Popkin and Loren Glickman is one of the top bassoon reed making books available. Topics covered: bassoon reed making from tube to finished reed, instrument repair and maintenance and approaches to bassoon playing.
    Basic Reed-making, A Basic Technique by Christopher Weait -The book goes from tool selection all the way through making and finishing reeds from tube to final reed. An excellent book used by every bassoonist.

No comments:

Post a Comment