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Reedtips Blog

How It's Made: Bassoon Reeds October 11, 2015 20:37 1 Comment

Making homemade bassoon reeds is a labor-intensive process that takes weeks. An RFReeds bassoon reed begins its life in the Var Region of southern France as a 20-30 foot tall arundo donax plant. Our Rigotti bassoon cane is shipped directly to us from France and our Danzi bassoon cane makes a pit stop in Milan.

arundo donax bassoon cane in France
  

We order the cane by the kilo, and a few days later it's Bonjour and Buongiorno, respectively. At this point, it's time to chop wood!

When we receive the tube cane, we inspect it for anything that could affect the quality of the product. If it passes inspection, we split the tube cane into thirds or quarters. Our assistant quality assurance analysts are paid in kibble because of lax labor regulations.

bassoon reed quality assurance

 

Next, we soak the cane for around twenty-four hours before it's trimmed and gouged. Each piece of cane is cut to precisely 120mm and gouged with a Reed Machines bassoon reed gouger. The gouging step removes excess cane to a consistent thickness. Every piece is allowed to dry, and some are stored to be sold as gouged cane After soaking for a few hours, the cane is carefully shaped using a straight shaper and a razor.

 

 

GSP Cane stands for gouged, shaped, and profiled cane and not the initials for Canadian mixed-martial artist Georges St-Pierre. This is a common mistake, but continuing the martial arts reference, there is still much to be learned, grasshopper. The cane is soaked again in preparation for shaping and profiling. To shape a piece of cane, it's secured in one of our shapers, and trimmed with a razor blade. RFReeds offers GSP bassoon cane in three shapes, the Fox 2, Fox 3, and Rieger 3. Next, we profile the cane using our trusty Bell profiling machine. At last we're ready to form a reed blank! The now gouged, shaped, and profiled cane is soaked for a few hours, folded in half, then wrapped in twine, and formed on a mandrel. After it is formed, the blank is allowed to rest and dry on a rack for 12 hours. After it is dry, the twine is unwrapped and the wires are put on to help the reed maintain its shape. At this point, the reed blanks are allowed to rest and age for at least one month.

After a month or more, the blank is soaked again, the tip is cut, the reed is scraped, and then play tested. It is again left to rest and dry for a day before being play tested again, with further adjustments being made. If the reed does not pass this inspection, unfortunately, it is rejected and sent to THE LAMP!

 

lamp of doom

 

When an order is received, we wrap it in our customer's choice of thread and seal (good ole' Duco or beeswax) and send it on its way with one final play-test. Depending on volume, this takes 24-48 hours.

After we've disinfected the reed and allowed it to dry, it is boxed up using recyclable materials. We found that cane shavings are a natural, strong, and light alternative to bubble wrap or packing peanuts!

And there you have it. The multinational enterprise of handmade bassoon reeds. Who knew assembling a bassoon reed would involve French/Italian cane, Canadian, Dutch, and German precision manufactured machines, Pennsylvanian bees, Narnian Duco cement, and South Carolina elbow grease? That would make one interesting stock photo.

Bassoon Reed Care 101 September 13, 2015 14:56

Following these few simple, but important steps will drastically improve and extend the life of a bassoon reed.

  • Soak it properly.
    • Two to three minutes for a regularly-used reed.
    • Five to seven minutes may be necessary for a new or seldom-used reed.
    • Don't over-soak! Arundo donax is a porous plant and can soak up too much water!
    • Some bassoonists soak up to the first wire instead of full immersion. This is personal preference and you can experiment to see what works best for you.
  • Let it dry.
    • Once you've finished playing, use your thumb and forefinger to gently wipe the outside of the reed.
    • Use a reed case. Many manufacturers ship their reeds in plastic tubes. That kind of biosphere can result in mildew! Reed cases give the reed room to properly dry.
  • Flush it out.
    • Run your reed under a faucet to flush excess residue. Over time, a bassoon reed is naturally prone to residue build-up. This is very normal, and can even have a positive effect on the reed's response and sound. Too much residue will detract from a reed's playability and must be flushed periodically.
    • Your reed is delicate – water, air, and bocal are the only earthly elements that belong in your reed.
  • Let it rest.
    • Alternate between a few reliable reeds. This will extend the life of all of them. We use different colors to keep track of our reeds. Both our Standard and Professional models come in your choice of color!

And that's it! These self-evident truths will keep your reed up-and-running and playing beautifully. 


Welcome! August 28, 2015 21:54

Welcome to the RFReeds blog!

As this is our first post, I would like to talk about what you can look forward to in upcoming posts. We will be discussing how to adjust reeds you just received from us, potential reed problems you may face from day-to-day, as well as a number of other topics! We are also hoping to have guest blogs, and videos as well! Come back again soon to see the newest blogs and info! And remember: use the code back20 to receive 20% off your next order!