“Lecturer”

Two announcements:

I am very happy to announce that I have accepted a position as bassoon professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. (My official title is “Lecturer” because that’s what part-time faculty are called.) This fall semester I am also teaching two sessions of Aural Theory, a course I haven’t really thought much of since my days at Lawrence, but Donna DiBella drilled us in solfege so much that I still think in it most of the time I hear music. I’m very excited to teach my first collegiate bassoon studio, although I’m not so excited about an hour and a half commute. It’ll be worth it.

Second, I have purchased a Popkin profiler and shaper and have just completed the first three prototypes of a new reed design that I will make along side my “Weasel” reed. Probably available before the end of September, these are the “Pop Goes The Weasel” reed. These reeds have a completely different profile, shape, length dimension, and constructed differently. The result is a different sound and response (mostly sound). So far the results are extremely promising.

Reed Adjustment Suggestions

My reeds generally play very well for most players right out of the box. However, I recognize that everyone likes a little something different, so here are a few “If, then” scenarios for adjusting my reeds. These tips are likely applicable to any reed style.

First: soak my reeds. I play my reeds soaked in warm or room temp water for at least a minute, preferably two. As they break in they need more or less soaking depending on the particular piece of cane.

Adjusting the tip opening for tone color and resistance. The tip opening is your first point of adjustment. Often the tip of a new reed will flare open and collapse a bit as it’s played in. If this happens the first time you try my reed, gently flex the tip closed with your fingers to relax the cane. At this point the reed should play. You shouldn’t have to do this much or at all after a day or two.

If the reed requires too much air pressure to play: The tip and throat area is probably too open for you. First try adjusting the first wire by flattening it with a pliers. A tiny movement will make a big difference in how the reed responds, so make small adjustments. You can add some zing to the sound by flattening both wires. If you want to remove some zing or buzz from the sound, round both wires by squeezing from the sides. The second wire should probably be somewhat less than perfectly round, but a completely round wire is acceptable. My reeds have a fairly dramatic fulcrum effect, so a small adjustment to the wires is likely all you need.

Scraping tips (if wire adjustments aren’t enough):

A) Reduce resistance and increase vibrancy at the expense of stability by scraping a bit out of the middle of the heart/tip area. Basically you want to take the fingernail shape pattern in the scrape and pull it back a bit, making a longer tip area. I use a knife here.

B) Make the sound a bit less zingy and add some resistance to the reed by removing material from the “rails” – the very side edges of the reeds. For the 10mm from the tip back use a bit of fine sand paper, for the back 16-18mm of the blade use a file.

Weasel Reeds now available

My reeds are made from Argentinian cane, processed on the “Ultimate Reed Finishing Machine” for extremely consistent results.  I leave them a bit resistant so that players can take out just what they need.  They have great intonation in all registers of the bassoon and respond very well as “high note” reeds “out of the box”.  Remove a little bit out of the heart (yes, you read that right!) until the reeds free up to your liking.

$19 per reed ($21 for contra).  $5 shipping for orders under 4 reeds, free shipping for 5 reeds or more.  I can accept paypal, but I prefer personal checks.  Send me a message to check availability and make an order.

I also make contrabassoon reeds on special order.

You can also order them from Midwest Musical Imports.

Update: If you are finding this page, please note the date of this post is from 2010, and as such my prices and payment methods have changed slightly. Please go to tjbassoon.com/reeds to order.