Topic: Gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine

I need professional advice. If you have funds and ready to spend it on reed making machine(s), which you would chose first? Gouging, profiling or tip machine?

Obvious, since I do not have any of them so question is gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine.

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Re: Gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine

A gouging machine is probably the last thing you'd need. There isn't much available in the way of cane that is split and pre-gouged, so getting a gouger would also require dealing with splitting and pre-gouging the raw tubes. Gouged cane is cheap.

I got a tip profiler first. For me, I figured the profiler is just a way to get the cane "close" enough for the process of forming the tube and so that there wasn't a whole lot of work to do in terms of scraping with a knife. With a tip profiler (I use the "Ultimate" one that MillerMarketing sells) the profile of the cane isn't very important at all: my machine takes care of almost all of the scraping for me. So I can buy already profiled cane and don't have to be concerned about the kind of profile the manufacturer puts on.

The next tool to consider is probably the shaper, actually. It's much less expensive than a profiler and will give you a great deal of control over consistency in your reeds regardless of what manufacturer/brand of cane you get. Most brands are offered in gouged and profiled, but not shaped, form. Perfect for using a fold-over shaper like Rigotti or Rieger. You could get several tips and a handle for far less than the cost of a profiler.

Only after you have those two tools would I consider getting a normal profiler.

The flipside of all of this is that if you have a profiler set up very well, just how you like it, there might not be much scraping to do in the reed finishing process, but all of the profiling machines I've used in the past are more time consuming to use than a tip profiler.


For me, I don't require control over certain aspects of my cane processing. The gouge is not something I tend to think about at all, and it would take literally thousands of pieces of cane to make up the cost of buying a gouger over just buying gouged cane. So it wouldn't be saving me any real money and since I don't require control over that aspect, there's no reason to buy it. Likewise, since I use the tip profiler, I don't require some of the control in the profiling process to justify the cost of the machine. The tip profiler, however, saves me a HUGE amount of time in the finishing process and gives me serious consistency from reed to reed, so while I surely could have saved money by scraping by hand, the control over the finishing and the time saved were worth the investment of the tip profiler.

I do want to start getting my own shaper collection though, as I think I do want to control that aspect of my reed making in the long run. For now I'm happy with the shape I get from the manufacturer for my preferred brand of cane.

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: Gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine

I personally started with the profiler. My reason for this was that all of the GSP cane I tried was far too thick to be any use at high altitude without a ton of scraping over every spot on the blades. I wasted a lot of time and wrecked a lot of reeds. I personally feel that tip profiler results are going to depend pretty heavily on what kind of reed style and profile you're got going on - using a tip profiler sometimes saves me a little bit of time, but it certainly doesn't give me the same sort of benefit that I felt I got from having my own profiler. I think it's also worth considering that profile has a very direct impact on the way the reed forms when you put the mandrel in. In the interest of consistency, that's another reason that I don't like leaving the profile up to the cane supplier - this way I can also order various kinds of cane from a few different suppliers and profile and form them consistently using my own machine.

Not that economic factors should influence you in doing what's best for your reed making, but it's also worth considering that a profiler is fairly comparable in cost to a tip profiler, but the investment in the profiler will result in a substantial drop in cane costs, while the tip profiler by itself will still require you to buy your cane already profiled.

The gouger is primarily used to control relative hardness of cane - useful further down the road, but if you're just starting out getting machines, the gouges available from commercial suppliers should do just fine. Good luck with your reed adventures!

Michael Macaulay
2nd Bassoon, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Re: Gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine

I will also vote for the profiling machine first. All other machines are getting close to $2000. Check out mdreedproducts.com. It is an incredibly well built machine and the machinist is flexible on how the machine can be set up. It is adjustable enough to give the same effect as a tip profiler.  I met with Paul and was impressed with how accomodating he wanted to be. He has met with several bassoonists and developed a machine based on trends he started noticing.  His basic machine is fully adjustable, but he will also build the machine with specific measurements that you may request.

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Re: Gouging and profiling machines vs. tip machine

I'm going to sound like I'm disagreeing with everyone a little bit here but I think the type of machine you buy could depend on your goals as a reed maker.  For the beginner or the novice who wants the best reeds as soon as possible, I'm going to suggest a tip profiler.  The technology in reed processing is much better than even in the early 90's.  You can request from several cane dealers different thickness and hardness of profiled cane and then set up your tip profiler to match that.  I know that Bill Roscoe set up a hardness numbering system for his profiled cane that has shown to be of great success to Ketih McClelland at the University of Tennessee.  This is just one example and not meant to be advertising as other manufacturers have many options available in profiled cane. 

For the serious student who wants to learn profiling the MDreeds maching is a great price and value besides the neat engineering.  However, several other German machines offer features that are great for the reed maker who wants to sell reeds.  The option to set your blade at varying depths is very inportant if you have to do much profiling and blade sharpening.  It is just not always possible to have one setting and get the best results unless you can tweak that blade depth.  Also, not just having a scribe for the center line and shouler but having adjustments for the placements for the scribes and depth of cut are other technological advantages of newer machines.  The new Reeds'nstuff profiler has all this and you can even adjust the placement of the guide underneath the carrier as well as have a compund profile because the guide is made in two pieces that can effect two different slopes in the profile.  The Rieger machines are fine as well, but not quite as adjustable.

For those who want to most control over the reed making process gouging helps to provide that control and can be an economic advantage to the commercial reed maker. There is a lack of understanding in the advantage of owning a gouger.  If your reeds suddenly seem a little stiff it is much easier to adjust the gouge .05 mm thinner that it is to change a profiler sincs you have to adjust both ends of the slope.  There are of course a variety of ways to grind a blade to increase the concentric or eccentric nature of the gouge. Another advantage of gouging yourself is that you are easily able in the length cutting stage to cut out the warped part of the cane segment before pregouging. 

My two cents.

Dale Clark

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