Do You Need Expensive Tools To Make Great Reeds? Not!

I am not a great fan of reed making. I do it because I need to have reeds to play my bassoon. Over time, I have been able to get the kind of reeds that work for me. It hasn’t been easy. I studied with Louis Skinner when I was younger and he was a great help, but I learned much through trial and error.

I like to keep my tools simple. I don’t own any super hi-tech reed tools. I have a Sassenberg gouger that I got after graduation, and for many years I gouged my own cane. For years, getting good quality cane that was well gouged remained difficult. Now many good quality options for cane are available.

The other tool I have is an old Pfeiffer single barrel profiler. I still use it. Other than a Reiger tip profiler, it is the only other expensive tool I own. The rest of my profiling is done by hand and it only takes a few minutes. I do use a micrometer and stick religiously to the measurements that work for me.

I do use some gouge alterations that I learned from Skinner. I’ve been using a Darmstadt model for quite a while, although I have tried others. This has helped me move a bit harder cane to the tip area that I feel really helps with clear articulation. I think you really sound the way you want to, regardless of what kind of reed you have. It’s who you are, and it doesn’t depend on your equipment.

I spend a fair bit of time making sure my blank is EXACTLY what I want. When I clip the tip of the finished blank, almost every reed I make will play pretty close to where it needs to be. The only work left to do is to use the tip profiler to refine the reed, then make other adjustments over several days. I have been very happy with the results. I always have something in my reedcase that I can depend on.

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