How many reeds?

Dear S,

To answer your question about how many reeds should Daniel have? The reed issue is what our lives as bassoonists is about. The reeds change with the weather and the season and can break if dropped or bumped and crack for no obvious reason. Therefore, one can never have too many reeds. You never know when your favorite might be a “goner”. Usually three to six reeds that are playing can cover it. Some reeds wear out quickly, and others will play for months if kept clean and are dried out thoroughly in between playing sessions. Incidentally, the type of reed case that Daniel has will shorten reed life. Air cannot circulate through the wet reed placed on solid pins. A different/better reed case with good air circulation into and through the reed and case will help. When I was a senior in high school I won the solo concerto competition with the Tacoma Youth Philharmonic. On the evening of the concert my reed cracked nearly down the middle. I had only the one “playable” reed in my case and was forced to play through the biggest bassoon moment of my life with a destroyed reed. It was an embarrassment. Let’s say it wasn’t pretty. Daniel already has experienced the sudden loss of a “friend” when his reed was bumped in Seattle. Fortunately, he had a back up reed that was playable. He should not only have a case full of playable reeds at all times, but a “backup box” of playable reeds in a separate case for emergencies when the reed case is left at home or lost or the current reeds are not working well. (His current reed case could work for that.) The backup box stays in the case at all times. I keep the oldies (but goodies) in my case for emergencies as I have described above and do need to use them occasionally. I actually have several boxes including new reeds that I can finish scraping if needed.

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Buying a Bassoon Reed?

A Guide for the Beginning Player, Parents and Band Directors

Warning: Bassoon reeds are fragile, frustrating and expensive.

For anyone contemplating taking up the bassoon be aware that it’s going to be more costly than playing sax or clarinet, and for the majority of you, the reeds will be frustrating. Why? Because if you don’t have a decent performer/teacher of bassoon who makes and adjusts reeds as an advisor, you will be a the mercy of music store bassoon reeds. Many players (and some of my students) are perfectly happy with store bought reeds and unless you come up against technical challenges that hold you back, you won’t seek out the alternatives. My motto has been I’m only as good as my reed allows me to be. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect reed. And I teach all my students how to evaluate and adjust the reed using my published methods. But in an instant, poof…it might crack and be a goner. Such is the life of a bassoonist. Start the search for the next one BEFORE you need it. Always have several good ones on hand. Since the reed cane itself varies so much in quality it you may find that only 1 in 5 reeds is acceptable and for professional players it may be 1 in 25 or more!

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