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Reed cases? Reed balancing?

I've been considering getting a reed case to help reduce reed warpage this winter... am wondering if any of you have owned one of the following:

Vandoren VRC10 that holds 4 reeds and has an interchangable charcoal tube for humidity control.

Rico RVCASE01 holds 8 reeds and uses their proprietary humdity control pacs

The Van case is about half the price of the Rico.

Am also curious about reed balancing, breaking in, etc. As a beginner this is all new to me... if you know of any good online articles about reed tuning & break-in please send me the links.




Content Expert/Moderator
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I've owned and used the Vandoren cases. I kept getting nasty black mold all over my reeds with them.

I don't use any humidification system. I throw the reed in a glass of water for a few minutes, and then play it. I do store them in guards most of the time. When I'm actively playing a show, they live on the mouthpiece, and get soaked before showtime.

I keep Legeres around for most horns for those times when no cane reeds want to work. I also use them as principal reeds on several horns, especially when doing pit work.


Old King Log
Staff member
I've used the purple Van Dorns for over thirty years, this for baritone, alto, soprano clarinet, bass clarinet and the occasional call for soprano sax. (Recently, I switched off on the clarinet reeds to their new eight reed holder, this without a humidifier tube)

I've never had any mold problems during that time span. In my experience, a reed stored in one "dries out" is less than one day, and the reeds remain flat and unwarped. And, the holders can be dropped without everything coming out of them and scattering all over the bandstand.

I mark the holders with a spot of paint in one of the loops of the script on the end, this allowing twelve reeds in each case save the clarinet (three holders per case).
You didn't ask about the Protek case, but that's what I have.

I don't recommend it. It takes two hands with good fingernails to get it open. Makes it difficult to get a new reed while the sax is swinging from your neck. Once the lid is open, getting the reed shelf lifted so you can get a reed is a challenge, too, even with two hands. Then, extracting a reed isn't easy. Finally, you have to insert a reed, tip end first, very carefully too keep from chipping the reed.

If I was going to design a totally crappy reed case, the Protek would be a good example to follow.


Staff member
Welcome to the board stratfish.

I use a zip top bag and the standard four reed holder available from Rico. Generally it works well but I did recently have a problem with mold which was due to a high humidity level in the bag. I've since taken to leaving the bag unzipped in the summer months.

In terms of balancing reeds, the best resource I have seen for this is from Dr. Teal and is called "The Art of Saxophone".

My reed prep is pretty straight forward. I use some 800 grit sand paper and lightly sand the vamp and heart of the reed. I do not sand near the tip. I tend to just play reeds and I don't really break them in anymore.

Dave Dolson

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Distinguished Member
Stratfish: You'll find differing opinions and practices among credible sources when it comes to reed prep and storage. Yes, read Larry Teal's book because he discusses the reed issues.

I use a Fibracell reed on clarinet because it is a secondary instrument when I gig, yet it must be ready to go when I pick up the horn, switching from soprano and alto saxophones.

But on saxophones, I prep all of my reeds following the general guidelines that once were published in the little inserts that accompanied a new box of reeds. Maybe they still do that - I have so many boxes of reeds now that I rarely buy a new box.

I wet them, play them, adjust them with a sharp pocket knife, sort them in to their order of playability, then dry them by rubbing my thumb down the vamp many times under a paper towel before I store them in reed-guards.

I have one of those reed cases (I think by Vandoren with that little tube of charcoal) but frankly it doesn't do any better than an open reed guard.

Instead of sandpaper, I use a sharp pocket knife and scrape off a little bit of material from the red's vamp, being careful to not nick the edges or the reed's tip. I keep the reed on the mouthpiece, too but I am also careful not to harm the the mouthpiece rails or tip. I do this lightly, rinse the shaved particles off the reed, then try it again. In my experience, I've had to do this to every reed out of the box. But the effort pays off because every reed plays great once I work on it. DAVE
I've always been happy with the Lavoz reed guards, particularly the old aluminum ones. If a reed is too dry or warped, I just leave it in my mouth longer before putting it on the mouthpiece.

Dave Dolson's prep method is a very good procedure. The only thing I would add is to break new reeds in gently, over several days, by playing them 10- 15 minutes each day before making any adjustments. Often they settle in with no shaving needed,
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Hey guys - thanks for sharing all your experiences with various reed cases & prep work. I'm a beginner level Clarinet player and live in very dry climate (Colorado.)
Until reading stuff online I never knew a reed required a break-in period, certain moisture content & possible shaving/sanding.

Will look into Larry Teal's "Art of Saxophone" book - assuming the reed issues discussed will be applicable to Bb clarinet also?

Thanks Again,

Mark in CO


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Until reading stuff online I never knew a reed required a break-in period, certain moisture content & possible shaving/sanding.
Neither did I. My teachter told me to put reeds in a holder of some sort (my favourite is still the Vito with the rubber o-rings), but that was it.

Break-in? Sand? Nurse and pamper? Nope. If one dies, I take the next one out of the box, lick it, clamp on and continue. If it's still half dead the next day, I'l toss it.

Perhaps I'm a Neanderthal.


Old King Log
Staff member
Same general approach for me. In my baritone case, I keep two boxes of each of the reeds that I use on a daily basis (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, and soprano clarinet), these not including the ones ready for use in the Van Dorn purple reed holders.

With all of the horn changes during performance, chipping a reed on the way into my mouth is a frequent enough occurrence to take precautions against it happening. I pick out the next one from the reed holder for the rest of performance and replace the damaged one, then replace the damaged reed at the end of the job.