Topic: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Does anyone have any ideas on how you have determined the distance between the 1st and 2nd wires on your reed design.  There is so much variation.  In Jim McKay’s book about Skinner there is a picture of a reed by Ferdinand Del Negro and the wires are 11mm apart.  And then I have a reed made by Danzi and the wires are 4-5mm apart.  I am guessing the average for most reed makers is 8mm.  I wonder why others deviate from this.  Is it for tone quality?  Does a different design or shape necessitate a different distance?  Harder or softer cane?  Pitch?

Thanks, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Sure, ease of vibration is one issue.  I think the more important one is the location of the reed's fulcrum.  From what I can recover by dusting off my brain...  The fulcrum of the reed should be located exactly half-way between the 1st and 2nd wires.  That's fine and dandy, if you know how to locate your reeds fulcrum!  To the best of my knowledge, it should be the absolute narrowest part of the cane.  However, this spot can get varied by beveling and sometimes even crimping.

Does that help?

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."  --Jimi Hendrix

Music Stand Shelves (reed cases, mandrels, & drying racks coming soon):
www.jimwesthoff.com/products

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Thanks Jim.  I hadn't heard of the fulcrum at the narrowest point in the shape before.  I thought it was at the first wire.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Depends on the shape.

My wires, from the butt end of the tube (which is probably the worst place I could be measuring by, but it has to do with my beveling strategy) are:
5mm
18mm
26mm
collar at 28mm
from first wire to tip 29mm for A=440
Yeah, my reeds are long.

Second wire should stay as round as possible and the tip opening is controlled by the first wire alone unless something weird happened for me.

I tried the Danzi thing once and never got it to work.  From what I understand the second wire is "just along for the ride" and is mainly just to make sure the reed doesn't separate.  In that style the fulcrum is all about 3rd and 1st wire relationship, but the tube should be shorter and the shape adjusted accordingly.  That's how I understand it, and like I said, I never really worked it out so I probably misunderstand the theory behind that reed style.

When I studied with Monte Perkins at Lawrence University his measurements were:
11/32 inch between first and second wire, 1 & 4/32 inches from first wire to tip.  He used to use Jones GSP cane, don't know what he's using these days or if he's changed those measurements.

Timothy McGovern at University of Illinois, from butt end of reed:
6mm
18mm
27mm (I think)
30mm to collar (blended collar into the blade)

Last edited by Trent (2010-05-04 20:45:47)

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

What you say, Trent, about the 2nd wire being along for the ride makes sense.  So the placement of the 3rd wire is perhaps more important and again I see a lot of variety with that.  Some put theirs as close as 3mm from the butt end.  It must be hard to make a turban then.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Kent Moore wrote:

What you say, Trent, about the 2nd wire being along for the ride makes sense.  So the placement of the 3rd wire is perhaps more important and again I see a lot of variety with that.  Some put theirs as close as 3mm from the butt end.  It must be hard to make a turban then.

Yeah, that was Herzberg as I understand it.  His turbans were very small.  McGovern's, on the other hand, were always very large to me (6mm from the end for the third wire).

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

I think the more distance between the 1st and 2nd wire the more resistance the reed will have and will be a bit better in the high range.  For me the best distance for overall playing is 7-8mm.  I do have a couple of shapes that the smallest part of the shape is at the 2nd wire, so that dictates the placement.
I use 4 wires -
From the Butt:
4th - 3mm
3rd - 7-8mm (just behind the bevel)

Then from collar (which is 28-29mm) 1st wire depends on shape - 3-5mm
2nd wire - 7-8mm from 1st wire

Turbans - I'd say medium to large - Either thread with Duco - or Glue gun
I like a solid feeling reed and then can trim it however I need it to play.

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Hi Mark:

Do you use a 4th wire to minimize leaks since your 3rd wire is kind of high or is there a structural reason.    What does it do for your reed?

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Kent, Check McKay's Skinner book to see if there is any mention of the second wire as 'capo d'astro' or tuning wire. Although I have not proven it to my complete satisfaction, Skinner theorized that moving the second wire (I call it the middle wire!) toward the tip raised the pitch and vice versa.

Another point about that wire is that if it becomes loose as the reed ages, the pitch will sag. Firming up the wire brings the pitch back up. crw

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Kent Moore wrote:

Some put theirs as close as 3mm from the butt end.  It must be hard to make a turban then.

If you snip the 3rd wire very close and fold it down (pointing toward the blades), you can start the turban a few millimeters higher on the tube.  When the turban grows to the point where it covers the 3rd wire, it's done.  It will look a little bottom-heavy, but still works great.

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."  --Jimi Hendrix

Music Stand Shelves (reed cases, mandrels, & drying racks coming soon):
www.jimwesthoff.com/products

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Thanks Chris.  I checked the McKay book and on page 113 it mentions that wire 1 is the 'capo d'astro.'

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

kingracer wrote:
Kent Moore wrote:

Some put theirs as close as 3mm from the butt end.  It must be hard to make a turban then.

If you snip the 3rd wire very close and fold it down (pointing toward the blades), you can start the turban a few millimeters higher on the tube.  When the turban grows to the point where it covers the 3rd wire, it's done.  It will look a little bottom-heavy, but still works great.

Thanks Jim.  I have been experimenting with a lower 3rd wire so I will try what you suggest for my turban.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Kent, So, first wire is tuning wire - makes much more sense! thanks, Chris

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

This is a great discussion and I couldn't wait to join in.  It seems to me the fulcrum and the narrowest part of the shape are two different elements of the reed.  I say this because, generally, a fulcrum is applied to the length of a board, usually not effecting the edges.  When we squeeze the sides of the reed at the second wire what we are doing is raising the arch, or the top plane, of the cane.  If we raise top plane of the cane the tip of the reed closes because the first wire is holding the cane at the fulcrum point.  My distance between the first and second wires is 9mm.  I'm sure there is a range that works best, perhaps 7-9 mm depending on the overall dimension of the reed.  If you shorten the distance between the wires too much it's like trying to see-saw with a short board on one side.  It takes a lot more pressure to make the fulcrum work.  The first wire is put approximately in the center of the reed's length as you normally make a see-saw board equally extending from the fulcrum, but in the case of the reed we generally make the distance from the butt to the first wire a little less than half of the over all length.  Since the blades are much thinner than the bark at the other end it would take less pressure to make the fulcrum work, therefore the rational for the placement of the first wire.  As in all reed making, these general statements are subject to the overall dimesnions of the reed you use. 

Dale Clark

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Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Great examples Dale.  Thanks.  Do you have any thoughts about the placement of the 3rd wire.  Do you think where it is placed is important.  I had never measured where this wire goes, but I am experimenting with placing it closer to the end of the reed.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Kent,

I put my third wire 5mm from the butt to the bottom wire of the third wire, not the center.  My intent is to get the wire close enough to control the roundness of the butt of the reed and also get a good turk's head.  When I wrap the turk's head I get about half way finished and the wrap the thread around twice on the butt side very tightly to help the form the roundness of the tube at the end.

Dale

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Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Since I bevel 9mm from the butt and put my 3rd wire just behind that (7-8mm) from the butt, this creates a fulcrum.  The 4th wire at the back really gives a super solid seal on the bocal and very solid feeling reed.  Also since I sell reeds, this allows people with different bocals to make the reed fit perfectly to their bocal.

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

Interesting reading re wire measurements. I've found 8mm between first and second wires works best for me.

Side comment about tuning and the second wire:
A handy quick-fix for bringing down pitch, if needed, say, in the middle of a rehearsal (until time permits more dedicated reed adjusting), which I gleaned from Christian Davidsson's Reed Adjusting info (http://www.canit.se/~chrisdav/reedadj.html), is to make the second wire less round. (Or, of course, round the second wire to bring down pitch slightly.)

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Re: 1st and 2nd wire distance

My reed wires are placed from collar to butt,   Bottom of 1st wire- 1 inch from butt of the reed, top of the 2nd wire is 8mm below the bottom of the 1st wire, 3rd wire is about 5mm from bottom. i glue my reeds before i wrap a turban and then i glue afterwards too.

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