Topic: Unstable low A natural

Every so often, I will make a reed that in other respects seems excellent, but low A is unstable when attacked with anything louder than mezzoforte: the pitch will start correct then destablize and go flat. Not unlike a reed where E2 will go flat until you cut the tip back. I just finished a blank that is very excellent in all other respects, very responsive and in tune on most other pitches, but when I hit low A hard enough it breaks and goes flat. I have been making my reeds from purchased gouged/shaped/profiled cane for about 12 years now, and only recently and rarely have seen this specific problem. I play a FOX 601. Any ideas out there???

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Re: Unstable low A natural

For me that is the indication of a weak reed and my E2 and possibly the F2 and C#2 may sag as well.  Are you saying those notes are fine and only the A sags.  If this is a new reed as you say, you might play on it for a while and those notes should eventually stabilize as the reed gets stronger.

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

Re: Unstable low A natural

It is a new reed. I have had many reeds where C#2 (second space from bottom of bass clef)is unstable and breaks flat (the most difficult not on my instrument, and a problem that requires cutting the tip back slightly, and re-working the entire blade, and often with unsatisfactory results); and unstable E2 is less common for me and has the same remedy. On this current reed, the unstable A is the only problem note. I greatly appeciate your advice and will play on it and see if it stabilizes. Many thanks!

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Re: Unstable low A natural

Try avoiding thinning the middle in the back as you are scraping toward your finished reed.  E2 and c# below that sag when my reeds are too thin in the middle in relation to the channels or rails. You may need to compensate for softer cane by leaving the back thicker than you normally might.   Also, the first and second wires could be tightened too much or too fast during forming.  A narrow tube can cause funny problems in that middle register especially.

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Re: Unstable low A natural

A weak reed will produce the same effect on my horn.  The long term fix is reed stability, involving one of the following processes (for me): clip the tip, change the rails:spine ratio, narrow the shape, sometimes reaming helps stabilize, or better balancing in the tip.

Short term fix is you can add the low Bb key to stabilize the pitch.  Well, that works on my horn anyhow.  Try it out.

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Re: Unstable low A natural

ALL EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS. This is for me a new gouged/shaped/profiled from Forrest that I had not used before. I have found that just playing on it, it is stabilizing. I had found that adding low E stabilized it too. I suspect this is softer cane or a thinner gouge, and perhaps I need to scrape less, and increase the spine to rail ration based on the above comments. Thanks all.

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