Topic: Loose wires - from the IDRS OnLine Archive
One of the concepts in making reeds all of my life is my analysis of four separate systems that constitute the mechanical functions of a reed. Every reed has those systems and it is in the interaction of those systems as well as the correction of any or all of them that constitutes reed making.
Before I begin I want to define what I consider a good piece of cane. "A good piece of cane is one that responds to trimming and adjusting and holds it!" We seldom get great cane that would produce a fine reed even if it were made with a hatchet
What we work with is cane that will respond to one or a combination of the four systems that can be controlled by our skills.
The four systems are the shape, the thickness of the reed, the wires and their placement, and the bevel at the end of the tube.
We are discussing the wires and their placement. Wires can control the opening of the tip, the arch of the blades, and the shape of the second wire. If the first wire is loose we lose most of its function. As long as it is tight, a subtle squeeze or downward pressure can produce the small adjustment necessary to make the reed just right. Loose wires are never the same as when you adjusted them. To meet the oft mentioned complaint that the reed is "choked" all you need do is trim the reed slightly in an area that will give you a better attack, a darker tone, a brighter tone without the penalty of any collapse. The tight first wire will sustain any minor adjustment and hold it. Be sure that the second wire is round and tight. I will discuss it at another time.
I stand corrected by David Savage. I neglected to emphasize the necessity of a clean bocal and nipple.
Professor of Bassoon, U of Colorado at Boulder
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