The bassoon is a wind instrument with a double reed in most cases. There are many different types of reeds, each with its own sound. While pre-made reeds are available, bassoonists frequently alter them to achieve a specific sound and tone. Many musicians create their own reeds from scratch. Synthetic varieties are also available, which work well in any weather or performance environment.
Splitting a piece of tube cane into four pieces is the first step in making bassoon reeds. The cane is cut and gouged until it reaches the desired thickness. After the reed has been soaked, it is cut into the desired shape. The required shape for the reed’s playing tip can be created with a machine or hand filing. The cane end is split with a mandrel to produce two reeds from a single cane.
The reed’s end is dried and wired together. To prevent air leaks, the bottom is then sealed with a liquid adhesive. The reed is made playable a slight bevel at the playing end.
Gouging is a technique for producing a reed with a specific thickness, also known as strength or hardness. Normally, the cane is shaved down with a gouging machine. Double reeds come in a variety of textures, from very soft to very hard. A dull, woody tone is associated with a soft reed, whereas a shrill tone is associated with a hard reed.
Adjusting the taper from the reed’s base to the tip is another change that can be made to bassoon reeds. The sound is affected the angle of the taper and the rounding of the tip, just as it is the thickness. A reed that consistently plays flat or sharp can be adjusted. The sound will be restored to its proper pitch shaving the reed and changing its shape.
Musicians can either make their own bassoon reeds or make minor adjustments to pre-made ones. Making changes to a pre-made version may take less time. Because specialized tools are required to make bassoon reeds, this option is also less time consuming and less expensive. A sharp knife can be used to make adjustments made shaving the reed.
Another option is to use synthetic bassoon reeds. These reeds have the advantage of not drying out and performing consistently in all types of environments, regardless of weather or humidity variations. Epoxy resin, graphite-epoxy sheets, and graphite fibers are among the synthetic materials used. The combination of these materials creates a reed with properties similar to cane and other types of wood.