Topic: Soaking cane

For years I've read about people doing all sorts of elaborate soaking methods, such as using distilled water for 1 day, then pouring it out and doing that again several times before making the piece of cane into a reed; or only soak for 30 minutes in warm water; and MANY others.  I've always used plain old water and soaked cane for many different time frames.  I will change the water every couple of days at the beginning, but have sometimes used cane soaked for weeks and always have good results.

I did a test a bit by accident, but it's a good one.  I put quartered and cut to length cane from tubes to soak and then gouge. I usually will soak this for a week or so, but the time got away from me a bit (been overly busy) and soaked the cane for 6 months! I did change the water on occasion and put some Sea Salt in.  My initial thought was to throw it all out, but I decided to gouge several pieces. On my hardness tester it is a little on the soft side, but I just made a couple reeds and the color of the cane is good, sound is good, response is good low to high - nothing weird about it! Another test will be to see how long the reed lasts, but I was surprised about how good the reeds play.

Mark Ortwein
Ortwein Woodwinds
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Monnig Bassoon Artist
Yamaha Saxophone Artist

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Soaking cane

Gerald Corey was the one that you mentioned that would soak in distilled water for several periods. He did it to "clean" the cane of any minerals and salts that would eventually leech out anyway.

Personally, I soak completely and dry completely multiple times over two weeks before the shaping and profiling process (I buy gouged cane). This accomplishes the task that GC set out in terms of leeching out the minerals (the water gets progressively clearer after several soaking sessions) but more importantly for me, it causes the cane to shrink slightly, and it gets to the final dimensions. Instead of doing this after forming the blank while you're scraping I've stabilized the cane so that the only changes to the cane are the ones I make.

Before forming, the last soaking process takes several days for the cane to sink. Once the cane sinks it isn't getting any more saturated with water, so other than the possibilities of mold or pond scum growing on the cane (changing water prevents this) soaking for one week or 6 months probably has no different effect.

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: Soaking cane

Edwin Lacy's article about lengthy soaking of cane is an excellent report. It should be in the IDRS archives.

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

Re: Soaking cane

I completely agree about the shrinking issue Trent!  When I have bought gouged cane from companies that gouge dry, I too soak, then dry before doing another soaking to make the reed. 

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Soaking cane

Doesn't over soaking cane cause it to warp?

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Re: Soaking cane

Not sure how it would warp. Mine never has.

If you let gouged cane dry it will curl a bit. Some people will strap the cane to an easel/dowel to prevent this. I just let it curl, since that goes away when I soak the next time.

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: Soaking cane

Ok. That's good to know that it goes back to a normal curve. Thank you.

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Re: Soaking cane

As with everything reed related: your mileage may vary.

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