Dr. Kirsten Nelson

Return to Tips for Bassoon

Bassoon
Reed Adjustments

by Dr. Kirsten Nelson
SFA Assistant Professor of Music
Bassoon & Theory
SFA School of Music
knelson@sfasu.edu


 


TOOLS:

STANDARD SUBSTITUTE
*400 grade sandpaper
 
*file--fine grade emery board
*straight-edge knife or razor blade wide-edge wire cutters--at least 1/2 inch (for clipping reed tip)
*rounded cutting block (use with knife or razor blade to clip reed tip)  
*mandrel (for holding reed--place reed on mandrel as you would on the bocal) golf tee or small dowel rod
*plaque (place between blades when sanding, etc.) guitar pick (metal or plastic)
*needle-nosed pliers (used to squeeze and tighten wires)  
*reamer (used to scrape the inside of the tube) small drill bit
reed knife  

*=items you must have to make these adjustments

The rounded cutting block, mandrel, plaque, reamer, and reed knife will have to be purchased from a double reed supply store. The other items on the lists can be found at hardware stores, etc.


REED WIRES

    1. Squeezing 1st wire from the sides

      a. Opens tip
      b. Makes reed harder
      c. Makes tone darker
      d. Raises pitch

    2. Squeezing 1st wire from the top and bottom

      a. Closes tip
      b. Makes reed softer
      c. Makes tone brighter
      d. Lowers pitch

    3. Squeezing 2nd wire from the sides

      a. Closes tip
      b. Makes reed harder
      c. Makes tone darker
      d. Raises pitch

    4. Squeezing 2nd wire from the top and bottom

      a. Opens tip
      b. Makes reed softer
      c. Makes tone brighter
      d. Lowers pitch

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

****Put the reed on the mandrel and the plaque between the blades before sanding or filing.

    1. Reed too hard. Signs: tip too far open; hard, "honky" sound; small, dark tone; response problems-especially on attacks; sharpness; cracking on small a (top line, bass clef); response problems on a1 (2nd space, treble clef)

      a. Squeeze wires from top and bottom
      b. Sand or file the shaded area





    2. Reed too soft. Signs: tip too closed; buzzy, nasal sound; bright tone; small e (4th space, bass clef) sags at all dynamic levels; upper register difficult to produce; tone stops on d1 (space above 1st ledger line above bass clef staff) or higher--this happens when the tip is so thin that the air stream closes it

      a. Squeeze wires from the sides
      b. Clip the tip ONLY A FEW MOLECULES AT A TIME!!!!!


    3. Tone too dark.

      a. Squeeze wires from the top and bottom
      b. Sand or file the shaded area




    4. Tone too bright.

      a. Squeeze wires from the sides
      b. Burr the tip--close tip with fingers and sand the very end




      c. Sand or file the shaded area




      d. Clip the tip a tiny, tiny amount

    5. Response problems in the lower register

      a. Sand or file the shaded area

ALWAYS ADJUST THE WIRES FIRST!!!! IF THE ADJUSTMENT DOESN'T WORK, YOU CAN PUT THEM BACK THE WAY THEY WERE. ONCE YOU SAND, FILE, OR CUT, THAT CHANGE IS PERMANENT. WHEN SANDING, FILING, OR CUTTING, TAKE OFF A SMALL AMOUNT OF CANE THEN PLAY-TEST THE REED. DON'T MAKE BIG ADJUSTMENTS ALL AT ONCE--YOU WILL OVER-DO IT.

 

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