A double reed? What's a double reed? A double reed is a type of reed used to produce sound in various wind instruments. The term double reed comes from the fact that there are two pieces of cane vibrating against each other.
A single reed consists of one piece of cane, which vibrates against a mouthpiece made of metal, hardened rubber, resin, or some other material.
The term "double reeds" can also refer collectively to the class of instruments that use double reeds.
Where to get reeds?
Find a professional bassoonist to make reeds for you.
Get them at a local store that sells hand-made, reputable reeds.
Ask fellow bassoonists where they get their reeds.
Good commercial reeds be bought from Lesher and Emerald.
You can buy reeds online through a reputable company. Here are some companies hat ship to Canada that you can buy from Forrest Reeds or Long and McQuade
Reed Care Tips:
Take care of your reeds!!
It is important that a bassoon reed be soaked for 2-3 minutes in fresh luke warm water before it is played.
Keep your reed in your mouth when you are not playing.
When in rehearsal, with your bassoon across chest, watch for stands and other objects around you that you could hit your reed on.
Be careful not to jam the reed against your lip or teeth, it will break.
Why soak the reed?
Soaking the reed with saliva in the mouth is not enough to moisten the entire reed. When the cane becomes moist, it expands to its original thickness, which causes the wires to encircle the reed to fit properly.
Soaking in fresh water helps to clean out the reed and prevent the build-up of food particles and other foreign substances. Unlike the oboe reed, the bassoon reed should be totally immersed so that both the blades and the butt become moist. Wetting the butt of the reed will help it stay on the bocal.
Wet the whole reed not just the tip
Storing Your Reeds
Reeds should be stored in a container that allows air to circulate so that they become totally dry between playing sessions. The best reed case is one which is made of a porous material, such as wood. Small plastic cases can be made into excellent cases by using a nail or a pin to make holes into the sides and top. This will allow the air to circulate through the case and dry the reed quickly. Many commercial reed cases are available for purchase.
How do I tell if I have a good reed?
A reed, which has been properly trimmed, will respond easily in all registers with both staccato and legato articulations.
The intonation will be good but this will be somewhat dependent on the player and the instrument. If certain notes go sharp or flat quite noticeably then the reed probably needs further adjustment. Often, good response and good intonation go hand in hand.
The tone quality which the reed produces should be to the player’s liking. This is largely a matter of the concept of a good tone. The reed has less to do with tone quality than many people like to think. The player and the instrument have the greatest influence in this area.
A good reed should allow the performer to play with good dynamics. It is not unusual to find a reed which will work well at forte dynamic but will not play pianissimo.
Finally, good reeds, almost invariably, are neatly made. While the appearance of a reed may seem unimportant, it is an indication of the reed maker’s care in the details of construction.
Commercial Bassoon Reeds are available from your local music store for purchase. Many of these commercially purchased reeds are too hard to play on If your reed is too hard you can.....
Flatten the first wire to make reeds easier to play
With pliers, press top and bottom of wire closest to the tip of reed. This decreases the arch and closes the tip
On commercial reeds, look for a “smile”
Beware of commercial reeds with wires or wrapping too loose
Making and Adjusting Your Own Reeds
The best reeds are always hand made but it takes a lot of patience and skill. You can learn to make and to adjust your own reeds under the instruction of a bassoon teacher. Purchasing a reed making book will also help you to learn how to adjust reeds.
The following are excellent reed making books: "Bassoon Reed-Making: A Basic Approach" by Christopher Weait. Published by McGinnis and Marx "Bassoon Reed Making" by Mark Popkin and Loren Glickman. Published by The Instrumentalist Co.
The diagram to the left will assist you in accessing your reeds and gives you a good idea of the specifications required for a Bassoon reed. There are variations in reed measurements, but the following may be accepted as generally standard measurements.