Topic: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Dear all,

Occasionally I have reeds that don't fit perfectly onto the bocal, resulting in a buzz (and some water leaking from the base of the reed).  Is there a solution for that?  In my particular case (I play both German and French bassoons), reaming is not an option (actually that was the cause) because my Fox reamer doesn't have the correct flare for the French bocal.

Sincerely,
Wai Kit Leung

oboe (French, Viennese, baroque), bassoon (German, French, baroque), shawm, dulcian

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

When that does happen to me I use the Rieger diamond reamer. The cause for me is usually because the initial ream was not terribly clean, and left a small gap behind. It usually just evens out the tube so that it takes care of the leak. If that won't work for you, one solution I have tried in the past is to rub paraffin wax inside the tube to get the wax inside the leaky spaces. It sealed the leak well enough, but I didn't really like what else it did with the reed in terms of dampening the vibrations a bit. "Your mileage may vary"

Otherwise, find out the root cause of the leak. Is it a poor or improper bevel? Or a mis-aligned tube in the forming process? Figure out how you can prevent it in future reeds.

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: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

bees wax---and beveling.

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Forgot to include more info: I don't make my own reeds and these are all reeds I got from sources.

oboe (French, Viennese, baroque), bassoon (German, French, baroque), shawm, dulcian

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Ha! Tell that reed maker to ream cleaner! :-)

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: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

You could try wrapping some teflon tape about half a centimeter up from the bocal opening.  While it's not the most visually appealing option it does work!

Matt Nickel
Bassoon and Contrabasoon, Red Deer Symphony Orchestra
MM, University of Michigan

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Hey Wai Kit, try this if you have some reed glue. Put a drop of Duco or any good reed glue around the edge of the butt of the reed. Make sure the reed is dry first! It is ok if a small dome of glue forms above the hole, use a mandrel to push a small quantity of glue into the hole, (4-5mm). The glue will dry flush after a few hours, depends on the glue, and seal any fissures at the base of the reed and create a nice seal for the bocal. Make sure you wait enough time, maybe give it a day to be safe. You should also be able to ream the reed if needed, but usually I never need to after this. I have not had to do this for a long time, but I used to get leaky reeds a bit when I was making reeds in a hurry and did not spend time squishing the back wood enough on the reed tube and this helped. I did not find a big change in the reed, but try it with one bad reed to be safe. I never have had problems with glue fragments in the bocal either, but I always make sure the reed is dry so the glue adheres to the reed.
Good luck- Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

I forgot to add, and this should be obvious... when you push that small quantity of glue 4mm into the reed, make sure the glue is on the wall of the reed tube, not making a nice glue plug for the reed ( that would be a great gag reed). Lay the reed flat to dry, without anything directly under the butt where the reed has fresh glue.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

When the reed is properly shaped and beveled, this will not happen

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

To properly bevel a reed you have a couple of choices.  By hand or using a tool.  First you must understand why it is done.  For me the two halves of cane must meet in a perfectly square fashion.  Now this is tricky as the cane is oval and will be round.  I made a tool from angle iron.  It's a 45° angle for bassoon reeds slightly more for contra.  A hinge with 80 grit sand paper glued to it and a threaded screw and wing nut replacing the hinge pin works to adjust it. Beveling higher or lower on the tube changes the fulcrum.

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Add a 4th wire at the back and you can tighten it to fit perfectly.

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

As a number of responders have noted, the tube needs to be created properly to prevent leaking. IMHO, if a reed leaks on the bocal, the leak must be eliminated before ANY other work is done on the reed.
My beveling jig will produce a "Christlieb" bevel on all four sides of a piece of gouged, shaped and profiled cane. It can be seen on my website www.weaitmusic.com

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

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Interesting, the jig looks great and like more of a 30 degree angle, like the one I have. I was going to try the 45 degree angle mentioned above to see the results. I guess, whatever the jig, you would probably need to dry the cane on a dowel to keep each stick at the same curve and a consistent bevel. I normally do not have problems with the reeds sealing, I prefer if they stay sealed for a few seconds with suction. I do make both 3 and 4 wire reeds and the 4 wires do create a nice solid base. I agree about beveling and starting with putting the reed together properly, but the glue and added wire mentioned above do help with reeds that have missed the mark.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

marydoob wrote:

I prefer if they stay sealed for a few seconds with suction.

I find this test odd. I understand the desire for a reed that seals this way, but, like testing instrument "seal" with a suction test, it has many flaws. The first is that the reed on its own (sealed with your finger) doesn't take into account the interface with the bocal, so you'd at least have to test it with the bocal. The other major issue is that you blow into the instrument, not suck, and a suction test does not accurately tell you if the instrument is sealing while you blow (and the same goes for the reed, which is also partially in your mouth, so who knows what other variables you're introducing.

I recognize I'm being contrary, (and this is not a personal jab at you, it just happens to be you that mentioned it most recently) but I recognize more and more the a suction test is not a useful metric.

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: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Hey, that's ok Trent, no worries, you like to keep us on our toes and I can be quite scattered sometimes. The suction test is more a habit and it is more to check the integrity of the reed assembly, make sure there is a good bevel, etc. It is not to check the seal on the bocal, since my finger is there instead. I do that test after the finger test, but only if I suspect a leak at the base. I have seen lots of student reeds with a lovely round opening that piss air through the tube. Students will often start reaming the back, have it perfectly round and wonder why it is still hissing. (Yes, I also realize the bocal tip and reamer dimensions can also be in conflict and if the two pieces of cane are not even it will leak at your finger, but generally, if it doesn't seal on your finger it's a good clue that's not it). Yes we do blow on a reed, but unlike the rest of the parts of the bassoon, ( besides the bocal), the reed doesn't have any pads to blow out, so, unless there is a flap in the cane, ( possible, but not likely), a leak goes both ways, a leak is a leak, a hole us a hole. I also find it easier to do a suction test on a reed instead of blowing my brains out with a pressure test. What are your thoughts about the degrees on the bevel? I was hoping someone would comment on the degrees of the angle before my next reed session.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

marydoob wrote:

Hey, that's ok Trent, no worries, you like to keep us on our toes and I can be quite scattered sometimes. The suction test is more a habit and it is more to check the integrity of the reed assembly, make sure there is a good bevel, etc. It is not to check the seal on the bocal, since my finger is there instead. I do that test after the finger test, but only if I suspect a leak at the base. I have seen lots of student reeds with a lovely round opening that piss air through the tube. Students will often start reaming the back, have it perfectly round and wonder why it is still hissing. (Yes, I also realize the bocal tip and reamer dimensions can also be in conflict and if the two pieces of cane are not even it will leak at your finger, but generally, if it doesn't seal on your finger it's a good clue that's not it). Yes we do blow on a reed, but unlike the rest of the parts of the bassoon, ( besides the bocal), the reed doesn't have any pads to blow out, so, unless there is a flap in the cane, ( possible, but not likely), a leak goes both ways, a leak is a leak, a hole us a hole. I also find it easier to do a suction test on a reed instead of blowing my brains out with a pressure test. What are your thoughts about the degrees on the bevel? I was hoping someone would comment on the degrees of the angle before my next reed session.

The best degree of bevel is the one that gives you a solid round at the butt end. I eschew the whole measurement process by beveling like Herzberg did: form the tube, let it dry on the mandrel for a couple weeks so the cane stabilizes, then bevel on a flat surface to make the end level. I did this because I could never measure the bevel right when doing it before forming. This method is working very well for me.

There was a great article a few years back in the IDRS journal "the magic of splinters" or something to that effect. Described beveling one side versus two sides, and the angle at which it is done.

I like my tube ends, ideally, to look so that the score marks are indistinguishable from the meeting of the cane ends/score.

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: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Thanks, I will look for the article, best- Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Leaking/Buzzing at the Base - Solution?

Try rubbing paraffin wax on your forming mandrel in the area of the mandrel that lines up with the butt of the reed.  Then insert the mandrel and turn a few times.  The wax will fill in the problem areas.  Unfortunately, one usually finds a reed such as this after it is soaked...the wax won't stick to wet cane.  In that case, for a quick on-the-spot fix, rub cork grease on the forming mandrel in the same place and insert it into the butt of the reed.  This fixes the problem.

--Richard Ramey

Richard Ramey
bassoonhipster@gmail.com
bassoonbonanza.com
javalinapress.com