I don’t buy bassoon reeds anymore, but I do know people that still get their reeds this way. It’s not without it’s challenges, and don’t expect that the reeds that you buy will play exactly the way you want to to start with.
Some commercial bassoon reeds are pretty bad. They only resemble a real reed, and some barely play at all. Go with a maker you know, and buy for quality. Don’t order more than a few to get an idea if the style that they make is a fit for you. It’s not one size fits all. Most makers won’t custom order except for possibly a different shape (if they have it already).
If you like the bassoon reeds from a certain maker, then you can get more, as they do usually have quantity discounts.
Once you get the reeds, you can expect that you WILL need to adjust them. Make sure that the reed you are adjusting is well soaked and has been played a bit before performing any surgery. This could include checking the wires, and opening or closing the reed slightly, to scraping the reed itself. This is why I insist that all students have a plaque, a pair of pliers, and a serviceable reed knife for quick modifications. If you play bassoon you will need to know what to do. A reed is ever changing, and it takes many years of playing to be able to proceed with confidence in making the reed your own.
Where to Buy Good Bassoon Reeds
Contact a professional player in your area, and get his or her feedback on what bassoon reeds are available that they would recommend. Expect that it will take some time to receive them if they’re any good, and remember that you can’t ever return them, so go for quality over quantity. These days, there a many options from semi-finished blanks to professional quality reeds for very busy professionals.
In the best of circumstances you can expect to have the reed work for you a while and then it will eventually get old. You should have more than just one workable one in your arsenal at all times (I have around a dozen or more ready to go at all times).
Over time you will learn what works best for you, and eventually you will probably begin to learn how to make them for yourself. Here you will have greater power to make exactly what you like and greater control over how the reed will work. Next blog I’ll be posting some guidelines on adjustment, and good luck to you!!!