Topic: Various Wire Placements

I know that different people use different measurements for their wires on the reeds, and these can vary from shape to shape. So, what I want to know is what measurements does everyone use with their shapes?

I've personally been using an Ishikawa shaper. I'm still experimenting with different placements to see what gives me the best results.

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Re: Various Wire Placements

The real question is "How does the wire placement work with the shape (and bevel) of the reed to produce the desired result?" 
I don't think many bassoonists can explain how the placement of the wires relative to the shape and bevel of the cane effects their reeds.   
Without the understanding of the physics of bassoon reeds, each attempt is a shot in the dark.   

The shape, bevel, wire placement, and roundness of the first and second wires all interact together.   Changing one of these variables effects each of the others.   

Are you able to get the tip opening you want when you properly adjust the roundness of the the first and second wires?

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Abe is pretty on the money on this discussion, which I know is a bit of a vague way of saying exactly what you said you already know about different wire placements working differently for different people and different shapes.

But I will say this, I have switched from measuring the 1st and 2nd wires from the end of the reed to measuring their position from the fold of the cane (before clipping the tip). For two reasons: 1) the first wire functions to control the tip opening, so it should be positioned in relationship to the tip. 2) This would be most accurately placed by measuring its placement from the fold. The 2nd wire is a fulcrum function of the 1st wire, and should be measured from the tip for the same reason.
The third wire is more functionally related to the sealing of the butt end of the reed and the bevel. So since it's more involved with the butt of the reed, I measure its location from the end of the tube to be most accurate.

For my shape and the way I bevel my first wire is 32mm from the fold, the second 40mm from the fold, and the third wire 4.5mm from the end. This is on a 30mm profiled length and 28mm tube.

Last edited by Trent (2014-03-26 11:32:50)

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: Various Wire Placements

Trent, I agree…the fold is the best reference point for reed making.   It is ALWAYS in the center, no matter what length cane one starts with.   
Finding the optimum wire placement relative to the fold depends on the dimensions of the shaper and bevel. 
I use a Herzberg shaper, which is a modified Knochenauer shape.   The critical dimension is the distance from the fold to the narrowest point on the shaper.   
I am not aware of any tool that can cut a consistent bevel.   The bevel is always done freehand.   That suggests an element of variability from one reed to another.   I have developed a beveling method with is very consistent.   That has helped me derive the best wire placement for my reeds.   My beveling system works with all shapers.   The Herzberg shaper is designed to work with the 2'nd wire at the narrowest point, and it requires no beveling from the 2'nd wire to the 1'st wire and beyond.   All of the beveling is done from the 2'nd wire back to the butt of the reed.   This GUARANTEES the fulcrum will occur at the first wire, and by removing the variability of bevel it STANDARDIZES all of my reeds.    This has incredibly increased my success rate!     
I like to start with the second wire almost round…slightly oval.   The first wire is a bit flatter than the 2nd wire.  This allows me enough latitude to open or close the tip at the first wire, and increase or decrease the leverage at the second wire while still maintaining the relative contour from the 2nd wire to the first wire.   

Rounding the 2nd wire increases the force of the two blades coming together.   It also increases the relative strength of the back of the reed blade to the front f the reed blade.   It helps the tenor and high range.    It raises the pitch, and creates a "darker" sound.   Flattening the 2nd wire works in the opposite direction…it helps fast tonguing and articulation, and low notes.   It flattens the overall pitch.    By combining the "controls" of the wires with trimming the reed blades, I have been able to increase the range of tone and response in my reeds.
My reed DVD has an entire chapter on the bevel.   
abesbassoonreeds.com

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Re: Various Wire Placements

I love it when you guys talk reeds, I always get a lot out of it. I have a bevel what if, what if you incorporate the bevel into the shape. Obviously this would only work with a flat shaper, say from about the second wire in the shape, the the two parts could come to a v at the base of the reed to a 30-40 degree angle. (Depending upon the shape and bocal aperture). The screw pins would need to be more of a bulb flare after the shape ( a little like the Herzberg shaper), from the narrowness of the bottom v. Probably no one could agree on the proper angle, but it could certainly save a step.

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

I have often thought about incorporating the bevel into a flat (straight) shaper.   It would be very difficult to build because the tolerances are so slight. 
Several other factors must be addressed. One s the thickness of the gouge.   The thicker the gouge is, the more acute the angle of bevel must be.   
The other is that the tapers of bocals vary.   The circumference of a circle = ? D.  Any inconsistency in the diameter of the bocal tip is magnified by a factor of 3.14   I just measured the diameters of several Heckel bocals.   They vary by over 10/1000 inch.   
This is why I use 3 different reamers (different tapers) so that I can get the taper that fits each vocal.   By the way, Miller marketing has an awesome throat reamer.

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Re: Various Wire Placements

I have seen a shaper like this!  Certainly could be replicated with the right machinist.

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Abe, excellent point about the gouge too, I wasn't considering all of the angles. I suppose it could work if was like a flat Vario shaper with digitally measured adjustment, for the exact angle you need, maybe even an adjustable shape. In other words something way too expensive to make and possibly too delicate, oh well. My Dad said those reamer are excellent, by the way. I might consider the multiple reamer thing, between students and three other family members, my bocal is quite small at the tip and often I have to ream the reeds for everyone else.

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

I think that even with the variable of beveling with sandpaper or a file after the forming process (Herzberg style) it's probably more accurate than a shaper with the bevel built in, due to the gouge variables you might deal with. At least doing it afterwards allows you to make sure you're getting the bevel appropriate for the tip opening you're going for.

So yeah, it's an intriguing position, but I don't know how practical it would be since it locks you into a very specific method of forming, and even might dictate your forming mandrel choice.

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: Various Wire Placements

Yeah, lots of expense for something that's actually not that difficult, once you get the hang if it. My little pipe dream started without considering thickness of the gouge, not to mention if you use an eccentric gouge, that adds yet another yet slight variable. It was fun to ponder it.

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

This is a very interesting subject and I am enjoying  the information in all my distinguished colleagues various posts.  I'll put in my two bits worth and also mention a couple of beveling jigs, one designed by my friend Jim Poe that I make and another made  and sold by Chris Weait!

The placement of wires is critical to the success of your reed.  Wires control the opening of the reed.  For best wire function the following should be followed: The first wire should be oval and placed slightly ahead of the narrowest part of the shaped cane.  The second wire should be round and placed far enough behind the first wire (8 mm) so it can function to open the reed when squeezed top and bottom and close the reed when squeezed on the sides.  The third wire should be close to the back of the reed (3 mm) so it helps the tube be round and make the bevel function.  All wires should be tight when the reed is made and when the reed is soaked.  I retighten my wires after the cane has dried when I first form my reed.  If the first wire is loose when dry but snugs when the reed is wet it is fine.  If it is loose when the reed is wet it should be tightened.

The placement of the wires also can control the shape of the reed using the same shaper.  The farther above the narrowest point of the shape the wire is placed the wider the reed will be if you cut the reed off the same dimensions from the first wire.  You can make a narrower reed by moving the wire further back.  The wire should never be placed behind the narrowest part of the shape.

Jim Poe's bevel tool has a two razor blades set at a fixed 30 degree angle and a stop at the back.  The bevel is put in the cane before the reed is formed and the results are the same as in the Herzberg bevel system.  This process was described in Hugh Cooper's reed making papers and Jim came up with this tool.  It will put a fairly consistent bevel in the back of the reed and it does function as advertised.  It works best with wet cane and you bevel one side at a time doing a total of four bevels on each side of the back of the reed.  The main advantage over the Herzberg system is that the bevel is put in the reed at the beginning of the process.  Chris Weait's tool puts in a similar bevel by using sandpaper in a "V" that will do both sides at once!

Hope I haven't confused anyone!!

Bob Williams

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Thanks Bob, I use a bevel block my Dad made for me that looks like the Chris Weait type with sandpaper. I have seen the razor blade type and they also look excellent.

Uh, I think I want to expand this further.

Since this subject hasn't come up yet, any four wire reed makers out there? I am sure there are quite a few ideas about that. I make reeds with both three and four wires, recently I have been using exclusively four wires. To be fair Alex our contra player and I have been using Donati cane off of my new gouger, with similar shapes,( mine is the old Pfeiffer Walt and his is a flat copy from Fox). (I think the Rieger #4 might be a similar shape, I may order one to measure it for to see if I can get a back up). Alex makes an excellent 3 wire reed and I make a four. We can each easily play on each others reeds, how we reach the end is different. I will not talk about wire placement, but obviously placement is closer together and the tube seals quite well. Honestly, my teacher had me start using 4 wires, I really liked it and I still do it. I do not see it interfering with the aperture, the reeds open nicely. I actually play with a larger reed opening than most people, I close them down for my wife, kids and students. I also like to keep the tubes on the larger side, I find it helps with the fullness of the lows and the high range, which I live for.

Ok, that's it, any four wire reed makers out there?

Steve Harriswangler

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

Bob and Abe,

I'm curious if either of you have any thoughts on the Danzi style of reed making, where the 2nd wire is significantly closer to the 1st wire than the reed designs we're describing. We use terms like "the 2nd wire must" etc. but it's clear that in other designs the function of the 2nd wire is clearly different.

I haven't tried this style of reed making for many years and got very poor results at the time, but I'll be honest in saying it probably was just simply me making bad reeds that way. One of the more popular reeds sold at Midwest Musical Imports is a Danzi/Italian style reed like this. I personally can't play on them, but many people get great results with them.

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: Various Wire Placements

As I stated in my reply above if the second wire to too close to the first you lose the ability of the second wire to open the reed when you squeeze it top to bottom.  There is a "sweet " spot for this around 8mm from the first wire.  I've never seen a "Danzi" reed so I really can't say how it plays.

Bob Williams

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Here's a good representative picture of one:
http://www.reedsnstuff.com/en/Bassoon/R … DANZI.html
They tend to be VERY wide compared to most American style reeds I know of, definitely wider than anything like a Rieger 1A. Typically they aren't wrapped up all the way, but that's aesthetic. But the first wire is right smack on top of the collar, and the 2nd wire is only 5mm at most away.

I knew this discussion had come up before:
http://www.idrs.org/IDRSBBS/viewtopic.php?id=8715

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: Various Wire Placements

Double post, sorry.

Last edited by marydoob (2014-03-30 01:48:10)

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

Thanks Trent, I have to say, the Danzi thing, that is kind if what I do with my reeds. I also have to say my reeds vibrate a lot more than the Danzi reeds I have tried. The look of the tube and spacing of the first and second wire is kind if what I look for though. I put my first wire right at the collar ( from the form if twisting wire there is usually a tiny space of less than a mm), and my second is at about 6mm from it, the last wire I usually place 3mm from the butt and the third at about 10mm from the butt. I usually only place my first and third wires in the forming process and the second and fourth after the reed has dried. I like the tubes to not have that choked v shape look. My reeds are pretty open, but I do understand the greater distance from the first wire would create a better fulcrum. I make enough reeds to try both 6mm and 8mm together and let you know how it turns out. Right now my set up is Donati cane, Reeds and Tools gouger with an elliptical gouge, 28mm blade, I next got to a Reeds n Stuff profile, ( those scoring blades are genius, the shoulders line up perfectly every time). I use what I have been told is a fold over Pfeiffer Walt shape, it is slightly asymmetric. I actually prefer it to my symmetrical flat shaper copy, as do those I make reeds for. I use a Rieger tip cliper and I use a TA machines (similar to a Rimpl I think), reed tip machine to finish the reed. I notice that Mark Ortwein uses four wires, I like the really solid tube at the back too. I'll let you know if I prefer the greater distance between the first and second wires. I am experimenting with two barrels in the Heng profiler, one with a spine and one without, I'll make twelve reeds with both barrels and both wire placements and let you know how it works. Oops, tubes are 30mm. Love all the information and input gentlemen, thanks everyone!
Steve

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

The narrowest point of the Danzi cane is closer to the first wire than other shapes I have seen. When I first made a reed from Danzi cane I was concerned with the extra wide shape and how that effected the pitch. Another factor was that the customer requested that I cut off 3mm from each end of the cane making the tip of the reed very near the fold line resulting in an even wider tip. I was surprised at how well the reed held the pitch of the third space E and I suspect it is partly because of the placement of the second wire. Opening the tip with the proper forming mandrel results in an open tip and also a tube large enough, and correct in taper, that reaming is unnecessary. It also means no throat reaming is necessary. While it's true about the fulcrum being less effective at the second wire, however, it is somewhat effective if you need it and you can also squeeze the tube slightly behind the second wire to open the tip. As far as wrapping goes, I wrap my reeds all the way up to the second wire as I think this is necessary as the final forming step to bring the cane close to the mandrel as well as to seal the tube properly. I have also been told that the reason the Danzi reeds were not wrapped to the second wire was to allow individual players to adjust the wire to their preference. I have no other evidence to support this but feel that I would want to place the second wire where I knew that it worked for me and finish the wrapping there.

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Re: Various Wire Placements

I do use 4 wires and usually do 8mm from the middle of the 1st wire to middle of 2nd.  I make different shapes, so this changes a little.  The 3rd wire I place behind my bevel, which is 9mm from the butt, then the 4th near the butt.  Gives a great seal and very solid feeling reeds.  The other advantage of the 4th wire is it is easy to adjust to fit other sized bocals. Never have any leaking problems.

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Various Wire Placements

I shaped and profiled a piece of cane and let it dry.  Then I applied a a clear based polycrylic finish on the tube portion.   When that dried, I colored the tube of the reed with a permanent blue marker.    Then I made that reed.   When I beveled it, the blue surface was removed from only the portion of the tube that was beveled.   The polycrilic prevented the blue from seeping deeply into the cane.   
Then I removed the wires from the reed and resoaked it.   I put it back in the straight shaper to restore the cane to its original roundness.   When it dried, I had a perfectly beveled piece of cane.   The bevel was illuminated by the removal of the blue marker.   
This is a great "study" for beveling.

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Abe, post pictures of that piece of cane please!

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: Various Wire Placements

Trent,  There is a picture of it on my reed making DVD.   I devoted one entire chapter (nine minutes long) to "beveling".
I am in the process of making my own website, where I will post many photos.

The proper bevel is dependent on the shape of the cane.    Each shaper has its own optimal bevel.   
The bevel of a Herzberg shaped reed will be different than a bevel of another shaper.

Last edited by Abe Weiss (2014-04-02 13:58:04)

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Re: Various Wire Placements

I was unable to post photos on this site.

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Re: Various Wire Placements

Well, the initial test with 10 reeds, 5 with 5mm between the first and second wires and 5 with 8mm between the first and second wires did not reveal as much of a difference as I had expected. (I usually have a 6mm difference). The greater spacing seems to make the reeds a little brighter and flatter. I'll give them another test during the week after they have settled some more. I never had problems adjusting the tip opening from the second wire, I was just curious.

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

Re: Various Wire Placements

Well, I don't like  the 8mm gap between the first and second wires, my usual is 6mm. I have never had problems with opening and adjusting the tip from the second wire. I found 5mm seemed a little close, but also no problem with changing the aperture. Shape and reed construction are also an important factor as has been stated many times above. It was a nice experiment. Thanks for the ideas gentlemen, I use an exacto for shaping thanks to Abe's, Trent's and Barry's videos, ( I saw Barry's on his blog). The exacto is fantastic and easy to sharpen, great stuff.

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