Anyone keep a "reed log?"

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    Default Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Recently I started (again) keeping a daily "reed log" and found myself wondering if this is a common practice. (I did a search on "reed log" but couldn't find anything.)

    For each entry, I record: the ID number of the reed (e.g., FC 2.5g), the type of reed (Fibracell 2.5), the date (1/27), how long I played (2 hrs), the setting (e.g. practice, rehearsal, performance), and a comment ("great reed but a little stuffy at lower end").

    I use it mainly to decide when it's time to ditch a reed. For example, if I find I don't like a reed, I can look back and see if I had a problem with it before. If so, then I ditch it. Otherwise, I give it another chance and keep it in the rotation.

    I did this before several years ago, but stopped for some reason.

    Although the main purpose is to keep track of when a reed may start to wear out, the data is generally useful. For example, I can keep track of how many hours I get from a given type of reed, how many hours a week I'm playing, ratio of practice to performance, etc.

    I know I'll be accused of being OCD, but it seems you kind of have to do something like this if you get serious about rotating reeds. Recently I went systematically through a bunch of Fibracells I'd put in my discard box, likely years ago, and found two that were really great! I'm guessing I'd given up on them too soon.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    that's quite impressive. great that you can be disciplined enough to follow it.

    my process is much simpler:

    1. new reed: do basic knife work to make it playable, if not already so out of the box
    2. number reeds 1-4 with a sharpie and store them in my reed case
    3. rotate play them till they die, a new reed replaces it in the case

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    Forum Contributor 2013-2017 ramcast's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I just write directly on the reed base with 1-5 star ratings with a very thin marker. Then I make a separate note/log which reed I used with what mouthpiece, and rate which combination works with similar star ratings. Then I do a short recording, with ABC comparisons of mouthpiece / reed combinations on my SD recorder. Quite often a reed that didn't work well with one mouthpiece works better with another mouthpiece. For that reason I don't just throw out a reed. The date doesn't seem to matter, as I usually have 5-6 I use as a batch (alternatively) and keep them properly cleaned and stored.
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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Guto View Post
    that's quite impressive. great that you can be disciplined enough to follow it.

    my process is much simpler:

    1. new reed: do basic knife work to make it playable, if not already so out of the box
    2. number reeds 1-4 with a sharpie and store them in my reed case
    3. rotate play them till they die, a new reed replaces it in the case
    +1

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I have kept such a log… but no longer do much in that regard because (a) there's hardly enough time to practice as I should (b) too many reeds play great/passably/awful one day, and are two days later the exact opposite… and it goes either way. If a reed seems bad I just move on to the next reed and come back to it another day...

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Currently I put coded dot markings on my reeds each time I play them. If a reed has too many recent bad marks, it gets tossed.

    However, it's been a very long time since I've tossed one - mostly any fault I notice is my own playing on a particular day, not the reed.
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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    If a guy named Arundo Donax doesn't keep a reed log, clearly it's not worth doing.

    OP, it seems to me that what you have is more than just a reed log -- it's a playing log. While I would not describe it as an OCD-fueled project, I think it's probably more work than I would find worthwhile. Since I play mostly synthetics, it's not that important for me to track reed usage meticulously. To the extent I do wish to identify reeds that have been played recently, synth or cane, I can do that by placing them in particular cases, or by writing a number on the reed or on its plastic sleeve. And I don't require detailed records about when, where, and how long I've played. A rehearsal and concert schedule provides most of that info for me.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Quote Originally Posted by chipmorrison View Post
    Recently I started (again) keeping a daily "reed log" and found myself wondering if this is a common practice. (I did a search on "reed log" but couldn't find anything.)

    For each entry, I record: the ID number of the reed (e.g., FC 2.5g), the type of reed (Fibracell 2.5), the date (1/27), how long I played (2 hrs), the setting (e.g. practice, rehearsal, performance), and a comment ("great reed but a little stuffy at lower end").

    I use it mainly to decide when it's time to ditch a reed. For example, if I find I don't like a reed, I can look back and see if I had a problem with it before. If so, then I ditch it. Otherwise, I give it another chance and keep it in the rotation.

    I did this before several years ago, but stopped for some reason.

    Although the main purpose is to keep track of when a reed may start to wear out, the data is generally useful. For example, I can keep track of how many hours I get from a given type of reed, how many hours a week I'm playing, ratio of practice to performance, etc.
    Don't neglect the wear and tear associated with volume and altissimo practice.

    Bottom line: My practice is very much like Guto's. I mark them w/ pencil on the end, rotate through them, and discard them when they don't work. I actually don't need to mark them any more, because I've become more sensitive to the variations in markings on the bark. Still, I try to rotate through them, rather than play the same one over and over.
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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    No, but the fact that somebody actually does it is amazing. I usually have 4 tenor reeds in a Reed Guard and if I decide to practice I'll try them and pick out a softer one that may be nearing the end of its working life. I've learned one thing over the years; when it comes to a gig, performance, concert, recording, whatever it is that you do, never give a reed the benefit of the doubt. If you think it may be dying, toss it and put a newer one on. I've had too many first sets screwed up by a reed that suddenly gave up the ghost. And, I do not mind changing reeds regardless of where the gig is. Its part of playing hi-performance sax. On my other saxes I play synthetic or Plasticover so I know what to expect from them and I haven't had one go belly up yet.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I don't. I have found that most reeds play fairly well with well made mouthpieces. If a reed really doesn't play well, it gets thrown out. I usually only throw away one out of a box of 5.

    Mind you, a log would have come in handy a few weeks ago. I got strep throat and ended up having to throw away all four reeds in my rotation because I didn't know which ones I had been playing.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Quote Originally Posted by ramcast View Post
    I just write directly on the reed base with 1-5 star ratings with a very thin marker. Then I make a separate note/log which reed I used with what mouthpiece, and rate which combination works with similar star ratings. Then I do a short recording, with ABC comparisons of mouthpiece / reed combinations on my SD recorder. Quite often a reed that didn't work well with one mouthpiece works better with another mouthpiece. For that reason I don't just throw out a reed. The date doesn't seem to matter, as I usually have 5-6 I use as a batch (alternatively) and keep them properly cleaned and stored.
    I just seen this and now I know why my grandfather has boxes of reeds with 1-5 written on them damn I can be so dumb sometimes I just kinda took it as the strength of them :-)

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Actually, the log isn't that time-consuming. I have it open on a shelf in my kitchen, and I don't think it takes much more than 15 seconds to make an entry. I call it a "reed log" because that's the unit of analysis. If I use more than one reed per day, then each gets a separate record. These days my reed case is all Fibracells (2, 2.5, 3) and I've been wondering if there's really much difference. I tend to play the 3's for practice and the others for playing out, but am not strict about it. I'm thinking when I get enough data I may be able to see if, for example, the 3's hold up better over time. (Probably someone out there already has the answer to this.)The Fibracells, by the way, have been working great for me. Recently switched back after fling with Plasticovers. I play bari (YBS-62)with a modern Brilhart Level-Air, #9.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Quote Originally Posted by chipmorrison View Post
    Although the main purpose is to keep track of when a reed may start to wear out, the data is generally useful.
    I can see where the data might be useful, or interesting, so that would be a reason to do this, at least for a time. However, I always know when a reed is wearing out. Just like 1saxman said, I don't use a reed on a gig once it's clear the reed is wearing out. I retire it to a separate reed case where I keep practice reeds that are still playable, but on their way out. Meanwhile I keep 4 good to great reeds going in my 'gig case,' as long as they are still playing strong enough. As each one of those go, I replace it with a new reed that I've play tested, broken in as necessary, and determined to be good enough for gigs.

    I haven't found any need to keep a log to do all of the above, but whatever works for you is the way to go.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Affirmation vs information...

    Tracking wear on a day by day basis for a synthetic reed doesn't make much sense to me. But hey, I don't like 'em anyhow.

    It doesn't matter what the rest of us do. If this floats your boat, and adds a positive element to your musical endeavor, then go for it.

    Is it necessary? Not for most.



    Quote Originally Posted by chipmorrison View Post
    Actually, the log isn't that time-consuming. I have it open on a shelf in my kitchen, and I don't think it takes much more than 15 seconds to make an entry. I call it a "reed log" because that's the unit of analysis. If I use more than one reed per day, then each gets a separate record. These days my reed case is all Fibracells (2, 2.5, 3) and I've been wondering if there's really much difference. I tend to play the 3's for practice and the others for playing out, but am not strict about it. I'm thinking when I get enough data I may be able to see if, for example, the 3's hold up better over time. (Probably someone out there already has the answer to this.)The Fibracells, by the way, have been working great for me. Recently switched back after fling with Plasticovers. I play bari (YBS-62)with a modern Brilhart Level-Air, #9.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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    As a Veteran for Peace, I am already against the next war.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Quote Originally Posted by chipmorrison View Post
    I know I'll be accused of being OCD
    You are being OCD.

    (Not that I'm not OCD)
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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Nothing wrong with being OCD. It really depends on where you focus that obsession; otherwise you can waste a lot of time (I know this from experience, lol).

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I know, right?

    Anyway, I know it's not necessary to keep a log. I've gone for years without one, using similar "reed management" methods to what others have described and wasn't trying to push the idea on anyone, just curious if anyone else did it.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    Like socks or shoes or razors, use them until they wear out, then replace. Logging their life cycle is pointless, IMO. Too many variables besides play time to make any meaningful predictions. But keeping notes on quality is actually useful. So I rank my current rotation with numbers or symbols. Usually I just pencil an asterisk on my favorite and play it until it dies. My second favorite is standing by.

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I'm probably too OCD to get much use out of this approach. I would be overwhelmed by the number of variables. The way I would see it: there are two types of variables here:

    1) the essential (the reed per se i.e., both its cane, and the accuracy of its manufacture - the life of the reed before it's clamped to my mouthpiece).

    2) the accidental (in the Aristotelian sense - i.e., the things that happen to the reed after it comes into my possession).

    The essential variables would have to (in my troubled OCD world) take into consideration the inconsistencies present even before manufacture: environmental and ecological factors affecting the growth of the cane, and its potential to be an inherently good/bad reed. And these are data that I cannot even access.

    The accidental variables are almost too many to consider: did I play the reed in the summer - and if so, was it a particularly humid summer; or did I play it in the winter – and if so, was it a particularly arid winter? Was I going through a heavy biting period (i.e, out of practice or stressed about life), or did I have a nice, loose embouchure at the time? And as Dr G mentioned, I would have to ask myself: did I play much altissimo? If so, how high? How much fff did I play? Any slap-tonguing? Was I doing lots of long tone practice; and if so, how much of it was D1 and lower – and how much was, say, D3 and higher? And just how long were those long tones? Did I engage in any long-tone exercises in which I slap-tongued an altissimo D4 at fff?

    Ultimately, I imagine I would be left with the infinite regress of an exponential series of variables. The target simply moves too much to get a bull's eye on the data.

    Instead, I've concentrated my OCD tendencies toward getting my reed adjustment chops together. I read a lot on reed adjustment, and more importantly, I practiced for a long time - experimenting with different tools, and with tweaking different areas of the reed. I literally can't remember the last time I ended up with an unsalvageable reed – and they have all become gig quality since I learned how to tweak them.

    Combined with a storage method that works – for me – I've minimized the surprises and variables, and have precluded my need to turn to data for answers. Why catalogue the variabilities when I can mitigate them?

    But admitting that a reed is dead is still a tough one for me. Saying good-bye is sometimes difficult . . .

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    Default Re: Anyone keep a "reed log?"

    I have a log - sort of. Since I have all four and several mouthpieces, I regularly do an evaluation of mouthpiece/reed combinations. This document is useful in two ways - it tells me what kind of reeds I should buy the next time and it also indirectly documents the state of my embouchure.
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