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Clarinet Reeds

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How reeds are made

Clarinet Reeds are made from a plant called Arundo Donax, more commonly known as reed cane. It is a tall cane (20 feet or more) which is similar to bamboo. It is usually harvested after two years. It is then dried and aged for varying lengths of time before it is made into reeds. The cane is then split, cut to length, and carefully machined to the final shape. Samples from each batch are tested by experienced clarinet players before the reeds are packaged for sale.

Use and Care

You can extend the life of your clarinet reeds if you wipe the moisture off of them after playing and store them in a proper reed guard to help prevent warping or other damage. And as tempting as it may be, don’t continually play on your ‘favorite’ clarinet reed!

Make sure you have 3 or 4 good reeds (or at least 2!) and use them each in rotation when you play your clarinet. This is a good idea for two reasons. Firstly, if you only have one reed that you like, you will be left in a lurch when it splits, warps or gets stepped on right before an important performance. Secondly, if you play on just one reed it will wear out over time, and your embouchure can weaken along with the reed.

Choosing Reeds

There are many different brands of clarinet reeds – everything from beginner reeds to blanks that experienced clarinet players can cut and shape to suit their own personal tastes. A highly popular and economical choice for beginning players are Rico clarinet reeds. For only a little more per reed, Rico Royal reeds are of slightly better quality. But as you progress in your playing you may want to try other brands to see if you find a noticeable difference in your tone quality or tuning, or in the ease of playing in upper registers.

It would be impossible to recommend a brand that will suit every player, since your choice of reeds is a very personal thing, depending on your tastes, your mouthpiece and even the style of music you play.For many years I used Vandoren reeds, and still do for Eb clarinet. For Bb, I have found a new favorite brand – Reeds Australia. I use the XL model. I know several people who swear by Zonda reeds. If you want to experiment, the four brands mentioned above (Rico Royal, Vandoren, Zonda and Reeds Australia) are not a bad starting point. Ask other players or your instructor for recommendations.

Don’t give up after trying a reed just once or twice – give it a little time. If it is different from what you are used to, it may take a little while to adjust. You may find after a little trial and error that your first impression was quite wrong!

You may also want to visit the following Informational sites to find out more about clarinet reeds:

Choosing a reed to suit your mouthpiece

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