In following the thread on Arundo vs. Bamboo cane I came across another question that was instigated by a student.
He brought in some reeds where he had used copper wire instead of brass. I could not come up with valid answer WHY he should use only brass wire.
Any thoughts? Why do we use brass wire instead of other materials. The copper he used still appeared to be 22 gauge, so thickness was not an issue.
I’m interested in your responses.
Copper will oxidize much easier then brass which is a fairly stable compound. I’ve seen reeds made of stainless steel but that is a harder metal and does not “give’ stretch, etc.” like brass. There is a reason that brass is used on most reeds!!
To me the big difference is in tensile strength, usually referred to as ‘ultimate tensile strength’, or UTS, the point at which the material will break when elongated. Brass, at 550 MPa (megapascals) is more than twice as strong as copper, at 220 MPa.
I need all the strength I can get when twisting on wires. It seems to me that copper wire, being much weaker, would be prone to failure. As Bob says, stainless steel doesn’t have as much ‘give’ and therefore would be a pain to twist on.
Brass wire has just the right mix of properties–strength plus bendability–so I guess that’s why it’s been used in reed-making since ancient times.
You could use one of Terry Ewell’s bassoon reed ligatures!
Isn’t it great to have an engineer on the site!! He’s also my neighbor!!
Copper is also pretty toxic over long periods of exposure.
Brass also has anti-biotic properties as does copper! Maybe your reeds will last longer vs stainless steel!
I agree with the remarks about tensile strength. I just bought some nickel silver wire in 22 gauge to try on reeds.
San Gabriel, CA