Topic: Unusual Reed Problem

I am currently a senior in high school, and this is my third year playing the bassoon.  I have been making reeds for over a year now and have, until recently had very good results with Forrests Rigotti GSP cane.  However after the temporary shortage over the summer, I have had a very unusual problem.  My middle Bb (one that rests just above the staff in bass clef, for clarification) never wants to come out, its very much flat, and in order for it to play at all without deferring to the lower octave it needs to be half-holed.  I know this is NOT the accepted fingering, but I cannot for the life of me find what the problem is.  I was forced to use some Albion cane (too thin and rather bright, I personally don't recommend it) over the summer due to the shortage, and although the reeds I made were not of the caliber I am used to, I didn't have this problem.  It was only after coming back to the Rigotti cane that I have had it...I have only used one bundle though, as funds are rather short for me (no job...).  Can anyone offer me any sort of advice on why this is happening to my reeds?  Is it something I'm doing, or does it sound like a congenital problem with the cane?

Thank you in advance for all your advice

Last edited by btzmacin (2008-01-25 21:13:45)

Noriel D. Valdés
     Wayne Hills HS Bands (Seniors '08!)
          Double Reeds Section Leader
          Wind Ensemble - Principal Bassoonist

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

Hi btzmacin:

Welcome to the forum.  It may be something in the reed and there may be an adjustment that would help the B-flat but most of us will flick or vent that note so that it speaks cleanly.  If you open the high C key with your left thumb as you tongue this note it should speak more cleanly.  Some will hold that key down for the duration of the note while others just open it on the attack of the note.  Try it and see if that keeps it from going to the lower octave.  It will raise the pitch too but if you are really flat on that note there may be another problem.  Kent

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

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

hmm...interesting.  I will try that as soon as I play the next time, as my horn is currently in school.  By the way, I apologise for having edited my post while you were replying.

Noriel D. Valdés
     Wayne Hills HS Bands (Seniors '08!)
          Double Reeds Section Leader
          Wind Ensemble - Principal Bassoonist

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

Take a look at this fine article about flicking idrs.colorado.edu/Publications/DR/DR18.2.pdf/DR18.2.pdf/41_flick.pdf

Last edited by Kent Moore (2008-01-25 21:14:52)

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

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

My Goodness!  This is absolutely amazing; I plan on sharing this with my band director as well, thank you so much!!

Noriel D. Valdés
     Wayne Hills HS Bands (Seniors '08!)
          Double Reeds Section Leader
          Wind Ensemble - Principal Bassoonist

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

Noriel, If your reeds are still flat, check to see if the middle wire is a little loose. If you tighten it to make it firm around the tube the pitch might come up a bit. C. Weait

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

Re: Unusual Reed Problem

A common problem with students I have found is that the wires are NOT firm on the cane and the upper octave will sag, even with flicking. It is important especially in the winter when the weather is usually drier that the wires are establishing a firm node at the first wire for the reed to work properly. Again NOT pinching the reed just firm so the opening stays intact when you play.

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Re: Unusual Reed Problem

Hello BTZmacin, How are you? I have always been very sensitive to the note you cite: B-flat resting atop the bass clef staff. On the german system bassoon, this note is often unstable (there are 2 or three tone holes under the pad, one to each side of the boot joint double bore(s). To improve a reed where the A2 or B-flat2 are unclear and want to drop the octave, try scraping a little cane on each side of the central SPINE. (not at the spine, itself) this is named the "Mid-Range area". If it is too thick there will be inflexibilty at this spot on the reed. When you have allowed freer vibration. the A2 and B-flat2 should sound normally for you. You can write to me at geraldcorey@sympatico.ca and let me know if this idea helps you. Sincerely, Gerald

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