Find the answers to your questions
1How can I improve the stability and longevity of reeds when playing in variable weather conditions?
To improve the stability and longevity of reeds when playing in variable weather conditions, we recommend storing them in a humidity-controlled reed holder or case. You can also use reed humidifiers to maintain constant humidity. It's important to adapt reed strength to environmental conditions to avoid unwanted variations. In a humid climate, your reed will tend to "weaken" in relation to the indicated strength; the opposite is true in a very dry climate, where your reed will seem harder. We often find that this variation in strength can deviate by ¼ to ½ compared to the strength indicated on the reed.
2Are there any specific techniques or tips for correctly breaking in a new reed?
To correctly break in a new reed, play it for a few minutes each day until it adapts to your lipping and playing style. Gradually increase playing time over several days to achieve optimum performance. If necessary, you can adjust the reed slightly using delicate sanding or rebalancing techniques to improve response and sound.
3How can I extend the lifespan of my reeds and keep them in good condition?
To extend the lifespan of your reeds, store them in a reed holder or case, wipe off excess moisture after playing, and rotate them regularly to allow thorough drying. Also avoid using excessive force when fitting the reeds to the mouthpiece to avoid damage.
4How do you repair a distorted reed?
To repair a distorted reed, soak it in water for an extended period and gently rub it on a clean, flat surface. Apply gentle pressure as you move the reed across the surface. Depending on the extent of the distortion, this may take some time, but with patience, the reed be useable again.
5Can reeds be stored and reused after a period of non-use?
Yes, reeds can be stored and reused after a period of non-use. It is important to store them in a reed case or stand that ensures adequate air circulation and prevents warping or damage. Before reusing stored reeds, always inspect them for signs of deterioration or mold.
6Are there any specific warm-up exercises or routines you would recommend for reed players?
A warm-up routine for reed players can include long notes, scales and technical exercises gradually increasing in difficulty. Start by playing at low intensity and gradually move up to higher registers and more difficult passages to warm up the mouthpiece and improve flexibility.
7Are there specific exercises or techniques for developing strength and lipping control with reeds?
Practicing harmonics, lip placement exercises, and focusing on lipping control can all help improve reed responsiveness and flexibility. In addition, experimenting with reed adjustments, such as delicate sanding or balancing, can enhance their performance. There are specific exercises for developing lipping strength and control with reeds. These can include long-hold exercises, flexibility studies, as well as breathing techniques and lip placement. A music teacher can provide you with exercises suitable for your level and needs.
8Why does Steuer use cardboard protectors?
Steuer uses cardboard protectors because they offer an environmentally friendly, sustainable solution for storing reeds, while also being very sturdy. A small slot at the top of the protector allows the reed to slide inside without exerting stress on the cardboard. Our cardboard protectors are recyclable and allow air to circulate around the reeds, preventing moisture build-up and extending their lifespan.
9Can reeds be customized or adjusted to suit individual preferences?
Yes, reeds can be customized or adjusted to suit individual preferences. Musicians can make slight modifications to the shape of the reed, such as adjusting the tip (using a reed trimmer or cutter) or the flat table part (using a resurfacer), to achieve the desired response and sound.
10Can reeds be recycled?
Yes, reeds can be recycled. Since they are made from organic materials, they are entirely biodegradable. This organic material is essentially composed of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose.
11What's the difference between a filed and an unfiled reed?
A filed reed, also known as a "French cut", has a straight horizontal line filed just above the bark. This is primarily an aesthetic finish. The filed area is about 0.5mm thick. An unfiled reed is known as an "American cut". In both cases, we can see a U-shape (also called a "moon" in French) which corresponds to the beginning of the reed vamp or bevel attack point. This U-shape is more visible on the American cut, as the bark extends right up to it. This shape can vary slightly (from a narrow U to a wide U) depending on the radius of curvature of the cane used to make the reed. The style of cut, French or American, has a limited influence on the timbre of the reed, and is more about personal preference.
12How are reeds made from cane?
Reeds are made from a species of cane whose scientific name is Arundo donax, also known as "giant cane" in the USA, or "Provence cane" in France. For the purposes of reed manufacturing, only 2-year-old canes are harvested. Cutting is done by hand, as 2-year-old canes are mixed with 1-year-old canes in the plantation, meaning that mechanized harvesting is impossible. The cutter's experience is therefore essential for selecting mature canes. After cutting, which takes place during the winter, the canes are stripped of their leaves in spring, exposed to the sun in summer, then stored in a ventilated warehouse to be sawn into tubes. This is followed by a series of steps to transform the raw material into a musical reed.
13How is cane harvested and prepared for reed production?
The process involves harvesting Arundo donax cane, found in regions with a Mediterranean climate. At Steuer, our plantations are located ten miles from our manufacturing plant in the Var region of France. Our region has optimum conditions in terms of soil and climate: Mistral and easterly winds blow regularly, and the cane’s dormant period between November and March is ideal. The cold winter spell in the Var is optimal for ensuring a good lignification process between the first and second year. During harvesting, which takes place in winter, the cane is cut at its base and then to a height of 2.50 m. Next, the stalks are stripped of their leaves in spring, then exposed to the sun in summer to stabilize the "wood" over time, ensuring optimal cane storage prior to sawing of the tubes.
14What factors contribute to the quality and performance of a reed?
Many different factors influence the quality and performance of a reed, including its age and quality, the manufacturing process, the cutting style, and the musician's individual playing technique.
15Some musicians suggest dipping their reeds in wine or alcohol. Is this a good or bad idea?
Ah, musicians and their strange stories and tips! It's true that some musicians resort to rather unusual methods to break in their reeds. Some opt to soak them in alcohol or even wine, perhaps hoping that their reeds will become endowed with great (musical) taste and subtle notes! But beware, reeds are like us: they can sometimes react unexpectedly to alcohol or wine. You could end up with a reed that, instead of producing beautiful melodies, starts playing joyfully inebriated sounds! Rest assured, the best way to break in your reeds is still to play regularly and let them gradually adapt to your lipping and playing style. But if you do decide to experiment with alcohol or wine, be sure to organize a private evening with your reeds, rather than bringing them to a concert, where they might create a sensation... for all the wrong reasons!
16Why are there so many different reed models?
There is no such thing as a universal reed. Too many factors influence the choice of reed, such as playing level, suitability of the reed to the mouthpiece opening, playing style, or the musician's morphology and blowing capacity. A reed that satisfies all expectations is, in reality, a mediocre reed that does not fully meet the specific needs of each musician. The various Steuer reed models offer musicians options in terms of sound color, flexibility, and ease of response.
17Can you offer any tips on how to achieve a balanced sound in different registers using reeds?
To achieve a balanced sound in different registers, it's important to focus on good breathing support, lipping control, and lip placement techniques. It can be helpful to work on specific exercises for each register to ensure smooth transition and coherent sound.
18How do different reed strengths affect playability and sound production?
Different reed strengths offer varying degrees of resistance and flexibility. A stronger reed requires more lipping force and produces a full sound, while a weaker reed requires less effort but may sacrifice some volume and control. The strength of the reed is also related to the opening of the mouthpiece.
19Why do some reeds in the same box have slight variations in strength?
Reeds are not beveled according to a specific strength, but according to a cutting pattern. After the beveling process, the strength of each reed is measured. The flexibility of the reed tip lies within a defined range of strengths, making it possible to classify them in different categories. For this reason, some reeds may be slightly harder or softer than others in the same box. Cane may contain slight variations in fiber structure, cellulose or hemicellulose distribution. While this variation may at first appear to be a drawback, it is also an advantage, enabling musicians to choose the reeds that best suit their preferences and playing style at any given moment.