Picking a Reed
Look for a reed that has a symmetrical tip opening, crows when dry with some lows in the tone. The central pitch of the crow is normally between F and G. When playing a new reed candidate, check Test 14, and 18 slur ups. The best reeds will do both of these basic tests before the reed has been tuned and refined: a quick way to pick out a reed from a batch. At this time you can also make a basic decision about whether you like the tone of a reed. If the sound is extremely bright or dark, this will indicate additional work that you may not want to do.
Causes of Tip Opening Symmetry Problems
Most tip opening distortions are the result of reeds that are formed with problems in the symmetry of the throat and/or cane. Many of these problems individually or in combination translate into a resulting bad tip opening. If problems in throat symmetry at the time of forming the reed are not corrected, there is no good way to undo them after the warp of the blade has been set. Extremely soft cane can pucker at the tip opening. Some soft cane can close in the center of the tip opening first when the tip is squeezed shut. Excessive blade slippage in forming the reed is yet another factor. The blades can slip right and left or one blade inside the other such as the Flat/Curved opening. See the table below for examples of tip opening problems.
It is important to be certain that the reed shape is centered on the thickest part of the gouged cane and/or the center of the blade profile. Otherwise, the tip opening aperture will be off center and/or close off center (see below). Additionally, it is important to look for cane that has a symmetrical gouge and a symmetrical outer radius of the cane bark which will also produce an off center aperture.
Whenever possible, correct any tip opening problems during the break in process.