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The lifespan of a reed varies according to factors such as playing frequency, technique, and maintenance.
Saliva, which has a pH of around 7.2 but can be above this average (base) or below it (acidic), can also have an impact on the gradual degradation of a reed's mechanical properties. Signs that it's time for a new reed include reduced responsiveness, poor sound quality, and visible signs of wear or damage.
Visually check the reed for signs of wear, cracks, or distortion. If the reed is damaged or has lost its original shape, it's time to replace it.
If you find it increasingly difficult to produce a clear sound or to play in the upper registers, this may be a sign that the reed is worn and no longer responding properly.
If you notice a change in the tone of your instrument, with a muffled or unprojected sound, this may be due to a worn or poor-quality reed.
Worn reeds can affect the instrument’s intonation, resulting in notes that are too high or too low.
If you feel excessive resistance when playing, this may be due to a reed that is too worn or too stiff.
Discomfort or pain
If you experience discomfort or pain in the lips or mouth, this may be due to a reed that doesn't suit your needs or is worn out.