Reed Making

Process and photographs of reeds in various stages

Wireless, Part II

Wed, Jan 16th, 2013 12:00:00 am

Prior to making a decision with regard to using a wire, there are a number of points one should consider.

I would encourage players to experiment at their own reed desks to determine the results achieved by going “wireless”.

Prior to making a decision as to whether or not to use a wire, there are a number of points one should consider.
1. The gouge needs to be well balanced in terms of the thickness in the middle and on the sides. In addition, the blade needs to be properly sharpened to achieve cane that is smooth on the inside – no ridges or bumps.
2. The gouge needs to work well for the shaper tip. I have found that certain gouges create far to large an opening for wider shapes. And other gouges are not well suited for narrower shapes.
3. The diameter of cane needs to be the correct size to achieve an opening that is not too large. I find that 12 – 12.5 mm is the optimum diameter for my reeds. If the diameter is smaller, the opening of the reed is too large. If the diameter is larger then 12.5, the cane will not gouge properly in my machine. Moreover, the opening will likely be too closed and will not hold up after scraping.
4. The reed needs to be tied at the proper length for the shape. If a reed is tied too short, the result is an opening that is too large. Regardless of how well the reed is scraped, the opening will be problematic.

On countless occasions, I have been asked about the shaper tip I use. For nearly two decades, I have used a Gilbert #1 shape and tie the blanks at 61 mm. The finished length is between 56-57mm.
I also own the Falstaff shape, Adam Shaper Tip Company, and suggest tying the blanks at 60mm.  Many players have also reported success with the Gilbert -1 shape, so that is also an option.

I scrape my reeds in the “American” style, so these comments apply to this type of reed. I have learned that if the reed is properly scraped preserving adequate strength in the spine and side rails, in addition to leaving a sufficient amount of cane in the back, one should not need to use a wire on the reed. 
However, since the scrape of a “European” reed is very different, it is possible that a wire may be needed for this style; perhaps not. 

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