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Reed finishing quality

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
has anyone noticed variations in reed finishing quality ?

For example:
I bought some Rico Royal reeds for my son. Compared to my Vandorens they are very rough on the flat and cut surface. It is like they are finished with 320 grit or less sandpaper.

The vandorens, by comparison are finished with 600 grit sandpaper.

I found the RR hard on my lips until I lightly sanded them down.

I'm curious if others have seen the same or have any problems with the finished reeds ?
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I think that the Vandorens are so-called "(French) filed cut" while other are, for lack of a better term, "unfiled" or "regular".

Personally, I prefer the more rustic version, my lip has a better, uhm grip. (my main peeve with synthetics is that they are so slippery)
 
The current Rico's are indeed a bit rough on the finish. I have a preference for old stock Rico's (V-style etc.) and they are always nice and smooth. Besides that I also find more good ones in a box.
Royals are also French filed but just as rough as the current unfiled Orange Box.
 
I think I've been experiencing the same thing. I feel like sometimes my reeds feel a bit coarse to my lips. I even feel as though sometimes they take off a top layer of skin. Something that may be happening is the reed companies, in making reeds more quickly, do not age the cane enough, and the cane may still expand when you wet it. This may happen anyway, and weather this is due to reed making companies or not is not a major concern, but something I do to help smooth out reeds is to put them on a hard, flat, stable surface, and run my thumb with lots of pressure from heart to tip a bunch of times. I feel like the reeds responds more uniformly and isn't as coarse after I do this. I do this before most playing sessions, and I've had pretty good success with it. Good luck.
 
I dunno guys. I have never tried to play reeds as they come out of the box. IMO they are only raw material for a good reed, like unfinished lumber. They must be reed rushed or sanded (besides all the other prep) and sealed before they can be expected to play well -
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I dunno guys. I have never tried to play reeds as they come out of the box. IMO they are only raw material for a good reed, like unfinished lumber. They must be reed rushed or sanded (besides all the other prep) and sealed before they can be expected to play well -
Hmm. I always play them out of the box, mid-gig if necessary. I get ~20..30 playing hours out of each, so I see no reason to rush and sand.
Maybe I'm a Neanderthal, but sometime in my career I stopped worrying about reeds too much. I just play them as they come. <shrug>
 
Hmm. I always play them out of the box, mid-gig if necessary. I get ~20..30 playing hours out of each, so I see no reason to rush and sand.
Maybe I'm a Neanderthal, but sometime in my career I stopped worrying about reeds too much. I just play them as they come. <shrug>
<shrug>
 
Vandoren seem to start out smoother, but once they're been played a couple of times they swell and are just as rough as the ricos.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I would like to check all of Rico brands. For some reason, I'm going to guess that their more premium reeds are smoother.

I was thinking of just buying some bulk vandoren reeds for my son to use. Might be 2s but at least they would be smoother to the lip. But now I have to check that as kev has noticed the problem with vandorens.
 
I think that the Vandorens are so-called "(French) filed cut" while other are, for lack of a better term, "unfiled" or "regular".
I just figured I'd interject a point on this subject. I think "filed" reeds are shaped the way they are (or at least the claim is) to assist in articulation, especially in the lower registers of conical bore instruments (saxophone). I don't think it's really a problem on clarinets because of the back pressure, but I'm pretty sure the "filed" business helps the whole reed vibrate more quickly.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I just figured I'd interject a point on this subject. I think "filed" reeds are shaped the way they are (or at least the claim is) to assist in articulation, especially in the lower registers of conical bore instruments (saxophone). I don't think it's really a problem on clarinets because of the back pressure, but I'm pretty sure the "filed" business helps the whole reed vibrate more quickly.
Naw. You need this. It helps not only with tone and articulation, but I think it can paint the house and walk the dog for you.

:)

Rico has a bunch of different brands. I think that they have to do *something* to distinguish the brands. Just an opinion.

I'm sorta with TTT. I used to play on a 3.5 Vandoren (on all saxophones and clarinets), but I would have liked about a 3.25 or so. Still, I'd slap the reed on my mouthpiece and play awhile before I'd shave the reeds with a reed knife to make 'em the hardness I wanted -- and only if necessary.
 

Tammi

Private woodwind instructor
Every brand, every cut, every 'level' is going to have a prickly reed or 2, or 5.
I've had bottom of the barrel Rico Orange box that were smooth as silk and some that you could use to refinish an oak floor. The same for Lurie, Hemke, Vandoren, Alexanders.... The list goes on.

The blanks run through different stages in a machine with sharp 'cutters' that remove material and shape the reed. Sometimes these cutters get dull in the same fashion as your lawn mower blades. Sharp blade - clean cut. Dull blade - rough cut/prickles.
Cane density comes in to play as well here to some extent.
I don't question the issue because I've worked in manufacturing. I've seen what happens when the 'tooling' gets dull.

Some 'uneducated', blue collar grunts know stuff. :oops:
If it's the wrong 'stuff' sorry...
 
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