General tips

Musson Bassoon Reeds are adjusted to be ready to play. Just dip each reed blade in water, take out and wait 2-3 minutes before playing.

Your reeds will sound better and last longer if you “blow them in” as follows: On the first day, play a reed for a maximum of 10 minutes, then leave it out to dry off in the air. Reeds undergoing the blowing in process should be left out in the air of the room to dry out completely between sessions and not be put away in a box or reed case. Gradually increase the daily playing time up to one hour over the next 1 to 2 weeks.. During this “blowing in” period, the reed will start to feel more resistant but do not make any adjustments at this stage. After many hours of playing, this resistance will begin to decrease again, indicating the reed is now “blown in” and will remain stable for a long time.

If you prefer an open, more resistant reed, open the blades very slightly by squeezing the first wire (the one nearest the blade) from the sides with long nosed pliers. Conversely, if you find the reed too resistant, the blades may be closed by squeezing the first wire from top to bottom. Always damp the reed first and make only the very slightest wire adjustments until you achieve the desired effect.

Remember that temperature, extremes of dryness and humidity and even altitude can affect both reeds and bassoons. Some adjustments may be needed to compensate for these factors.

Don’t over soak reeds before playing. A quick dip in clean water is adequate. All reeds will last longer if taken out of your reed case at home after a day’s playing and left to dry completely overnight.

Paul Globus, a professional clarinettist from Montreal, Canada, offered the following tips in a Reeds Australia newsletter:

“My tips, none of which are revolutionary, come from over 40 years of playing and dealing with reeds:

  • Soak reeds in water as opposed to wetting them in the mouth with saliva. After playing, wipe them dry on the back of your hand.
  • When practising, alternate reeds. I often have several reeds on the table at any one time. I’ll wet them in water and play each for 10 minutes (gradually increase the time you play each reed – Peter M). There are several benefits to this. First, you’re automatically breaking in the reeds. Second, you aren’t getting used to any one reed and are therefore developing some flexibility in your playing. Many young players believe that one perfect reed will work in all situations. WRONG. The rule is “different reeds for different needs”. By alternating reeds of more or less the same strength in the practice room, one learns how to play on different reeds; an essential skill for the professional.
  • Rinse your mouth before playing. The cleaner your mouth is, the cleaner your reeds will be and the longer they will last. I would like to say that this is just common sense but when it comes to hygiene — even with respect to keeping one’s mouthpiece (bocal) and instrument clean — this point is anything but common. I dare say, it’s commonly overlooked entirely.”