Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Fix a Sharp Bassoon Reed

Correcting a sharp bassoon reed is only possible if the intonation is off by a small degree. Since you have already carved the bassoon reed, it is not possible to add wood back to the reed. This is why reed-making is so difficult, because if you make a single mistake, the reed will sound higher than the pitch you intend. The issue is more easily fixed when the reed is flat in pitch since you can just carve away more of the reed. However, for mildly sharp reeds there are some things you can do to salvage the reed, or at least, save it to use only in an emergency performance situation. However, ultimately, you will need to create a new reed for a regular performance.

Step 1 Position the reed on the crook of the bassoon and play a concert B-flat to check your pitch. If the tone is in the vicinity of B-flat, you can adjust the reed slightly to get the correct intonation.

Step 2 Pull the reed out very slightly and try playing the B-flat again. If the reed is still not in tune, continue to pull the reed off the crook until you get the desired pitch.

Step 3 Find the correct pitch and then play the four notes below B-flat in an ascending fashion so that you end on B-flat. If the pitch is correct, leave the reed in its current position. If you are still sharp, attempt to pull out a small degree more.

Step 4 Press the top wire on the bassoon reed and the bottom wire together to close the reed off slightly and lower the pitch. This should help the intonation if steps 1 through 3 did not work.

If the reed is pulled out so far that it no longer maintains contact with the crook of the bassoon, there is nothing you can do, except to get a new reed.