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Thread: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

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    Default What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?


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    Allen Halstead's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    cant believe i wasted time watching half of this ...go ahead and buy cheap Zonda or Zorda (even he did not know the name of them) ..u get what you pay for ..
    I myself must be one of the lucky ones ... I can usually play any Royal, Java or RJSS right straight out of the box ...
    If by chance i do need to adjust, it is just a touch of sandpaper on the hard side ..

    don't waste time watching a guy tell you for 7 minutes how to 'shave" a reed ...wonder if those Zonda's have hair on them?
    Tenor ..1973 Selmer Mark VI #211xxx .... RPC .115B ... Vandoren M/O lig ...
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I've adjusted reeds for years but not like this. Still, for someone who hasn't done it YET, I saw nothing wrong with it. I thought the video would be helpful.

    I scrape my reeds but I use just a sharp pocket knife and take more material off the heart of the vamp - not so much of the edges near the tip like this video. I'll try this the next time I'm working my reeds. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I'm also a believer in adjusting reeds. His technique is very simplistic, and I don't think it will work for all reeds, but the basic idea is there.

    Luteman, if you want to learn to adjust reeds (coming from a fellow math/science geek); I learned from Larry Guy's "Selection, Adjustment, and Care of Single Reeds". It goes into much more depth than that video, including how to play test the reed to determine what needs to be changed and how to shave the reed to increase responsiveness in different registers.

    I will say that my teacher is not a believer in adjusting reeds. He thinks it takes less effort to just find the good players in a pack of 10 than it takes to get a bad reed to play well. In many ways he is right. Adjusting a reed is an art form, and not nearly as simple as suggested by that video.

    The most important thing you should know about adjusting reeds is that you are adjusting them to make them easier for you to play. That is why I like Larry Guy's approach which involves so much play testing as opposed to just a visual assessment of density by light passage.
    YAS-875 Custom, Meyer 5M, Vandoren Optimum lig, Rico Jazz Select 2H reed

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    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Quote Originally Posted by PridgNYC View Post

    Luteman, if you want to learn to adjust reeds (coming from a fellow math/science geek); I learned from Larry Guy's "Selection, Adjustment, and Care of Single Reeds". It goes into much more depth than that video, including how to play test the reed to determine what needs to be changed and how to shave the reed to increase responsiveness in different registers.

    I will say that my teacher is not a believer in adjusting reeds. He thinks it takes less effort to just find the good players in a pack of 10 than it takes to get a bad reed to play well. In many ways he is right. Adjusting a reed is an art form, and not nearly as simple as suggested by that video.
    The other good source is Ray Reed's book...also very much for "geeks," although I managed to get through most of it! From Reed's perspective, the big problem with this guy's approach would be that he misdiagnoses the cause of many/most reed issues, which is leakage between the bottom of the reed and the table due to natural warping of the cane.

    He does seem pretty deft at shaping that core area, FWIW?
    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Halstead View Post
    cant believe i wasted time watching half of this ...go ahead and buy cheap Zonda or Zorda (even he did not know the name of them) ..u get what you pay for ..
    I myself must be one of the lucky ones ... I can usually play any Royal, Java or RJSS right straight out of the box ...
    If by chance i do need to adjust, it is just a touch of sandpaper on the hard side ..

    don't waste time watching a guy tell you for 7 minutes how to 'shave" a reed ...wonder if those Zonda's have hair on them?
    The Zonda reeds I use don't have any "hair"....in fact, I get 5 out of 5 that play right out of the box. Can't imagine why you'd call them "cheap".... I've found them to be far superior to anything else I've tried..... including royal and java. Can't comment on RJSS since I've never actually used them....

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Quote Originally Posted by PridgNYC View Post
    I will say that my teacher is not a believer in adjusting reeds. He thinks it takes less effort to just find the good players in a pack of 10 than it takes to get a bad reed to play well.
    That is my philosophy too. Besides, when I adjust a reed that plays bad, the best that I achieve is to have it play slightly better, but it never plays well enough for me. So a bad reed is a bad reed, end of the story. So now I just throw them away. My time is better used by practicing on the good ones rather than by wasting it on reeds that may play slightly better after the adjustments but which ultimately will never play as well as I like them to.
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I should add that my comments above about adjusting reeds apply mostly to tenor Ricos and Vandorens. On the brands that I use on tenor - mostly Rigotti Gold and François Louis - I rarely need to adjust a reed, they are much more consistent and generally play well without any need for modification.
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Luteman, I would certainly try this on some of the dog reeds before throwing them out.
    Thanks for the link.

    Diskman50

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Bebopalot's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I think you have to question anyone that doesn't know Zonda reeds and can't tell if it says "Zonda" or "Zorda" on the reed. Especially if they consider them "the cheapest". They are not really common but certainly not cheap nor are they unknown to the average saxophone player. What he does on the video is theoretically ok but we were never told what the benefit of doing this will be.

    I have used this guide http://www.dornpub.com/SaxjPDF/reed2.pdf but I rarely use it since it seems I can play reeds that many consider horrible.

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Thanks everyone. I ran into the ReedGeek tool while researching this, and also read what was said on the SOTW about the ReedGeek. Do you guys still like it?

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    Distinguished SOTW Member LateNiteSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    You should not expect a reed manufacturer to make you the perfect reed for you. They may come close, and occasionally get that bulls-eye, but not always. Good reeds/cane is expensive, and adjusting reeds is very fast once you get into the groove. My approach is similar to this guy, but i don't care for how he describes what he's doing. Start with reeds that are a bit too hard for you.

    1) Wet the reed.

    2) Hold it up to the light to see the shape of the heart, and how the front edge of it extends into the tip area. There is the heart, the transition zone, and the tip. The transition zone is where you will be sanding. The transition zone is the area that goes from dark to light when you hold the reed up to the light. Do not sand heart area proper or the tip area proper.

    3) Play test the reed from side to side. It can sometimes be harder/softer on one side, and should be sanded accordingly.

    4) Use 220 wet/dry sandpaper cut up into little squares and placed in an envelope to do the "job."

    5) The job is simply adjusting the transition zone, also called the front edge of the heart, sanding it down a bit more or less. You want to move the front edge of the heart back a bit, again thats the zone that goes from dark to light when you hold the reed up to the light. This frees up the tip to buzz a bit more, making your reed brighter, less resistant, etc.

    Sometimes a reed can feel a bit stuffy or dead, not necessarily too light or thin. It often is because its a bit too hard, but by such a small margin that its not enough to stop you from playing it, but still its not quite in that magic zone of the best reeds. Sometimes you try this, and the reed never comes to life and you throw it out. But I guarantee you will find many more playable, and great reeds if take an extra minute to do this. Good Luck.
    "We sax players need to stick together and save the world." Sonny Rollins, 1993 after a show.

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I know some who love their reed gadgets but a sharp pocket knife works for me - and I cut down on the accoutrements in my accessories drawer. DAVE
    Dave

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    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Quote Originally Posted by lutemann View Post
    Thanks everyone. I ran into the ReedGeek tool while researching this, and also read what was said on the SOTW about the ReedGeek. Do you guys still like it?
    For me...yes. The Reedgeek is really just a blade, but with a few different edges. The big difference is that it is hardened steel, so it doesn't go dull, but at the same time isn't a razor in your pocket. For me this is a big plus--I can literally fix a reed on the bandstand/at the table with it. The small front blade is really nice for balancing the reed and I like the way the bevelled edges work on the sides. But still it's just a funky little blade.

    Some guys are able to do it really well I gather, but I have never had success with sanding.
    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

    "The spiritual life is built upon a commitment to truth telling and truth living. As master jazz musicians, [John Coltrane and Miles Davis] presented their spirituality within the reality of cool." --Farah Jasmine Griffen and Salim Washington

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 Canadiain's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Alternatively watch the Ridenour ATG video, as it will explain how to play test to know WHERE to adjust the reed. Shave, scrape, sand, whatever, its not HOW you adjust it, its knowing where to apply the touch...

    And yes, at $3 a tenor reed or whatever they cost now, its worth taking a minute to fix the dogs. And its part of the whole zen thing of knowing how to play a woodwind instrument.

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I learned how to adjust reeds at the ripe old age of 12.
    Once you know which parts do what it takes about 5 minutes to make the necessary tweaks.

    Somewhere around here I have an old copy of "The Reed Guide" that has a nice diagram of a reed with all of it's various 'areas' marked, and a detailed instruction guide on where to adjust for what issues.
    There are also sections on how cane is grown and cured, reed selection, breaking in, as well as adjusting for 'optimum performance'.
    If you can find a copy it's well worth the read.

    I might even have scan of the adjustment instructions saved on my computer.
    If you would like it give me your email address in a PM. I'll get it out to you by the end of the day.

    Edit: Yup, I still have the scans. They're yours if you want them.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    I don't spend a lot of time adjusting reeds, so with that in mind, I see a couple of things I would strongly disagree with on that video.

    1) He says 'never touch the back of the reed.' I've had the most success sanding, or now scraping with a reed geek (a great tool), the back of a reed to flatten it out and to a small extent I think this also slightly 'softens' a reed that is too hard.

    2) He never play tests the reed, or even mentions a play test! How can you do this entirely by looking at the reed and not playing it? That makes no sense to me.

    3) The idea of buying cheap reeds and spending a lot of time trying to make them play also makes no sense to me. I'm going to start with the brand reed that plays best for me, regardless of cost.

    I do like the idea of filing those 'transition zones' as Latenightsax mentioned (I think that's similar to what the guy in the video is doing). But with lots of play testing as latenight also said. So I might try that out, using the reed geek, which should work really well for that purpose.

    p.s. What's this topic have to do with late bloomers?! Shouldn't it be in the reeds section? Sorry to nitpick, but I can't help pointing this out....

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    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    There are a lot of different approaches to adjusting reeds, but no single method that stands out as being the one and only proper way to adjust reeds. The tools you should use are the ones you're the most comfortable with. If it works for you, it works. Personally, I rarely use razors. In the old days I used to use "reed rush". Still do occasionally, but most of my reed working tools these days are the ones professional manicurists use in nail salons. Not your standard cardboard emery boards, but an assortment of large, padded, extremely fine grit emery boards...as well as ultra-smooth polishing and buffing boards. I go through several steps...first with a fine grit pad to make the actual adjustments...(just a little at a time, play testing as I go). Equally important to me are the finishing steps of polishing both sides of the reed. The polishing doesn't change the strength or balance of the reeds, but it does affect the way they sound and play (in my opinion). A polished reed lasts longer for me, and is less prone to get waterlogged and less likely to develop the "spittle" sound from saliva clinging to the underside of the reed. The sound seems cleaner to me...less airy...and with less resistance. (Smoother surface = less resistance? I don't know, but it works for me). Some people clearly think adjusting reeds is a waste of time, but I enjoy the process. It's sort of a Zen thing.

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    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    To those of you who have asked me to send them the scans... My dial up is unbelievably slow right now.
    Be patient. I will get them to you. It may take 2 emails, but I'll get them out.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

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    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you think of this guys approach to shaving reeds?

    Ok... The scans are sent in 2 emails. I can't tell you how much I dislike having dial up...

    And CJ, I too find working on reeds 'cathartic'.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

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