Topic: Loose wires - from the IDRS OnLine Archive

By Norman Herzberg | Interview February 19, 2005

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.
Norman Herzberg

Yoshi Ishikawa
Professor of Bassoon, U of Colorado at Boulder
Editor, IDRS OnLine Publications
Administrator, IDRS Forum

Re: Loose wires - from the IDRS OnLine Archive

Thanks for posting this, Yoshi.  I generally keep my 1st wire snug, too, though recently I have been experimenting with a loose 1st first wire because when I studied with David McGill, I recall that he said he kept his first wire loose enough so that he could rock it back and forth.  It has been a while since I studied with him and I am not certain I am recalling correctly.  Is there anyone who can verify this?  I am now back to the snug 1st wire, however.  Thanks, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Loose wires - from the IDRS OnLine Archive

Yoshi, this interview with Norman Herzberg was included by you in the very early days of the Forum and I found it very informative. In fact, I was thinking of writing you yesterday to ask if the follow-up discussion of the second wire Mr. Herzberg mentions towards the end of the discussion was ever forthcoming. If so, it would make a great companion piece to this.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds