Topic: Brand of Cane?

I'm sitting here snowed in and contemplating a couple days of heavy reedmaking.  I've about decided that all things being equal, the particular piece of cane is the most significant factor in producing a good reed.  Just a cursory check on some prices shows Gouged cane running from right around $2.00 per piece to just under $6 per piece, and GSP cane running from around $3/pc to over $13/pc!  Has anyone found that there is any correlation between cost per piece and quality of reed produced?  Obviously, if that $13 piece of GSP cane is demonstrably better than the $3 piece, it should be everyone's choice, likewise if there is no discernable difference in quality of finished reed, why does some manufacturer/supplier even sell cane at that price point?  My own experience, using 8 or 10 different cane sources over many years, indicates that you can produce excellent reeds from just about any source, and that are only minimal differences (perhaps gouge shapes and dimensions) between different sources.

Comments or observations?

Frank Watson
Greenville (SC) Symphony Orchestra
Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Converse College
Presbyterian College

Last edited by BassoonII (2011-01-10 06:31:36)

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Re: Brand of Cane?

I know that Vandoren GSP cane is very expensive, like $7-8 a piece depending on where you go for it. The advantage to that particular brand is the profile is very close to a finished reed already for many people, so the amount of work you need to do later is less. I haven't used it myself, so I can't attest to the quality of cane, but one of my colleagues loves the stuff.

Personally, I buy Argendonax. The cane is super consistent and very dense. My reeds end up very thin but still have a load of support behind them, so they don't sound like wimpy little things. It's also cheaper as it's not part of the European market (I suspect that's part of the reason). The downside is that if you buy GSP cane I find their profile to be really much too heavy to be close to a finished reed. If you do all your finishing by hand there's a lot of work and room for error (at least in my reed style). I use a tip profiler, so that eliminates that issue for me.

So in my case it's not always [higher price = better product] but your mileage may vary.

For what it's worth I haven't heard good things about the recent European crops either...

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: Brand of Cane?

Hello Frank,

I agree, that You can make good reeds from any cane. Only matters is what type of cane everyone prefers.  Some years ago I was using only Rieger. And it was good, soft cane. Afterwards  I tired Danzi and liked it because it was harder. (rieger and danzi price is about the same)
I have never tried Vandoren cane which is called "expensive" because I'm happy with what I have now and don't think that because it's more expensive it will be better.

Concerning the price. I do not know why there is such a big difference between cane prices. I only could guess, that it depends on company policy, company name, amount $$$ spent on advertising, amount of people working, their salaries, etc.... smile

Hope I helped.

Re: Brand of Cane?

Hi Frank,

I've always found two things influence my choice of cane, whether making bassoon or oboe reeds. These are hardness and relative consistency of the cane from piece to piece and batch to batch. With respect to the former, I find the matrix on Justin Miller's site very useful. It gives the relative hardness of many canes and even if the cane that you are using or interested in is not included, by comparing it with included canes you can assign it a relative position within the matrix. The issue of consistency, on the other hand, can only be evaluated after working with a particular cane over time or by using input from others.

I have always found that cost is a completely irrelevant predictor of cane and reed quality. I fact, I have found some of the most expensive canes don't make reeds that fit my playing preferences.

Gene

Gene Carter
Linden Reeds
gcarter@lindenreeds.com

Re: Brand of Cane?

Is there anyway to get plastic can to make reeds?

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Re: Brand of Cane?

I believe you meant "plastic cane"? Correct me if I am wrong.

Haven't heard about it. But you can get plastic reeds.

Re: Brand of Cane?

Bacho wrote:

Is there anyway to get plastic cane to make reeds?

No.  Plastic has to be molded in shape in all three dimensions and then glued together to form a reed.  Its vibration characteristics are already decided from before the plastic is poured.  Besides, you really don't want to play on plastic reeds all that much.  While they are great for beginners, their tone leaves a lot to be desired.  Finding a source of good cane reeds is a better choice.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: Brand of Cane?

Trent wrote:

I know that Vandoren GSP cane is very expensive, like $7-8 a piece depending on where you go for it. The advantage to that particular brand is the profile is very close to a finished reed already for many people, so the amount of work you need to do later is less. I haven't used it myself, so I can't attest to the quality of cane, but one of my colleagues loves the stuff.

Personally, I buy Argendonax. The cane is super consistent and very dense. My reeds end up very thin but still have a load of support behind them, so they don't sound like wimpy little things. It's also cheaper as it's not part of the European market (I suspect that's part of the reason). The downside is that if you buy GSP cane I find their profile to be really much too heavy to be close to a finished reed. If you do all your finishing by hand there's a lot of work and room for error (at least in my reed style). I use a tip profiler, so that eliminates that issue for me.

So in my case it's not always [higher price = better product] but your mileage may vary.

For what it's worth I haven't heard good things about the recent European crops either...

Actually Vandoren, until very recently, used to buy huge amounts of Gonzalez (Argendonax) cane, process and sell it under their name. There was a time when most Vandoren cane people happily bought was, in fact, Gonzalez cane.
Gonzalez recently stopped selling his cane to V.

[edited - IDRS]

Re: Brand of Cane?

I haven't noticed a strong correlation between price and quality. I have noticed that different brands (and sometimes the same brand from different suppliers, depending on who is doing the gouging and how their equipment is set up) have different general hardnesses, and I've noticed that my "favourite cane" has gradually changed as my reed style, instrument setup and geographical location have changed.

Given the huge number of variables involved in cane (growing season and conditions, how long the grower aged it after harvest, how long your supplier had the cane in storage before shipping it to you, who gouged it, what equipment they gouged it on, statistical distribution of cane quality within a single batch etc.), I'm not completely comfortable putting my faith in a single brand of cane even if I've had great results with it in the past. I'd have to agree that a great reed can result from just about any cane source regardless of how much it cost. I do try to have cane on hand from a couple of different suppliers that I've gotten good batches from in the past, especially when I'm trying out a new brand, just so that I can be sure a single bad batch won't leave me in a bad situation.

Michael Macaulay
2nd Bassoon, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Re: Brand of Cane?

I agree with Michael that a critical variable is how the cane was processed (for those of us who buy gouged cane) by the dealer... I've had very good luck with Argentine cane from Bob Williams.

David Bell
Alexandria, VA

David Bell
Alexandria, VA
amateur bassoon and contra bassoon

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Re: Brand of Cane?

I've also been using the cane from Argentina that I purchase via the Womble-Williams company and agree, the cane is consistent. Highly recommended!

Paul Barrett
   -Principal Bassoonist, Honolulu Symphony
    -Lecturer in Bassoon, University of Hawaii