Good start to the day.

At a gig last night, I was aware that my faithful old reed was giving up the ghost.  Imagine my delight this morning, on opening a new box of Plasticovers, to find that the first reed selected was absolutely perfect.

This, of course should not be a surprise…it should be the norm.

Is it not ironic that our instruments, which can cost the earth, rely on a piece of stick to make them work?  Why should opening a new box of reeds be akin to Russian Roulette?

Surely guitarists expect a new set of strings to be perfect….I have yet to hear one say "…the low E is a bit stuffy & the G is too hard…"

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13 Responses to Good start to the day.

  1. alan says:

    All joking aside Lewis, I make it a rule not to reject any reed until I’ve ‘played it in’ for a couple of hours – not necessarily in one hit… Surprising how they can turn out. It’s more of a disappointment when a reed that does ‘play right out of the box’ goes soft/dead in a very short space of time. Luckily with Rico & LaVoz, especially as I buy older stock, I really don’t know what all the fuss is about ? (Almost) Every one is a winner !

    All I am saying, is “Give reeds a chance !” (with apologies to John Lennon) 🙂

  2. lewis says:

    Not certain how long Plasticover reeds have been around, and therefore, if old stock is an option.
    Are we to believe that in “the old days” the reliability was better?
    Another snag, being addicted to Plasticover, is that so little can be done to adjust a duff reed….a good clipping if it too soft (sounds like my school days!) & that’s about your lot…scraping & sanding being out of the question.

  3. alan says:

    I’ll look for my oldest Plasticover box… They were around in the 70’s – I’m sure, maybe even before. I never clip, scrape or sand now – I used too, but I found I often achieved one thing at the expense of another ! Only ever sanded if (in an emergency) the only reed I had was way too hard, and I made sure that didn’t happen too often.

    As for clipping, the clippers I have don’t seem to totally match the original tip profiles of any reed (or mouthpiece) I’ve used – did it a few times, nicked my tongue once on a sticky-out bit of razor sharp cane, bled profusely, never again…. And, as you so rightly say, not really an option with ‘Plasticover’.

  4. Jonf says:

    I certainly remember Plasricovers being around in about 1980. I dunno about them, though. To my ears they always have an overtone of Kazoo about them. Might be just my ears, or my dentally challenged embouchure.

  5. alan says:

    I’ve found a Plasticover box going back a few decades (from the style) but I’ll photograph it in the morning – natural light is better… Interestingly it has printed inside the box about ” thoroughly wetting the reed… ” Huh ?

  6. lewis says:

    Jonf.
    You are correct about the Kazoo effect with Plasticovers…that is exactly the sound I sought.
    Admittedly, with some of my mouthpieces, there is too much of that & probably with age, I have arrived at the compromise of Gary Wiggins meets Ben Webster. 🙂

  7. ukebert says:

    Hmm, I find that for clarinet most reeds turn out OK with a bit of play behind them. Sometimes of course they are spectacular, and sometimes they are spectacularly bad. My problem is that I never remember to break in more than one reed at once, despite many teachers urging me to do so… obviously the reed goes or gets broken hours before the concert when my clarinet is already there…

  8. alan says:

    There’s nothing better than looking at a reed clip, with four equally knackered reeds in it 🙂 Break them in two at a time…

  9. lewis says:

    It is only recently that I have been able to do that.
    Previously, I was reluctant to throw away a knackered reed for reasons that I do not fully understand….perhaps I will find a use for them.
     Same with diatonic harp cases….storage for knackered reeds perhaps?!

  10. alan says:

    Lewis, I never had you down as a sentimental soul…  A case full of memories –  " I remember that reed well, it died at 22:15, on New Years Eve in 1967…." 

  11. lewis says:

    Alan, It gets even worse. I still keep a totally knackered old Eb harp with which I accompanied Elkie Brookes at a party years ago….how sad is that?

  12. alan says:

    What, accompanying Elkie Brooks – or keeping the harp ? Arf Arf…
    🙂

  13. Mal-2 says:

    Guitar strings (and bass strings, which I have more experience with) most certainly differ in sound from one brand to another, or even one batch to another. Still, if you change all the strings at once, you can pretty well expect all the replacements will work together, even if they’re slightly different from the last set. It would be hard to say because the old ones are, well, old.

    To use an example on bass, I had a set of Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings, and broke the high G (yeah yeah make "broken G string" jokes now) and I replaced it from the backup set, which worked fine — both sets were purchased at the same time. I ordered a single string to fill out the backup set and thought nothing more of it. A year or so later when I changed them all out for the backup set, I couldn’t figure out why the G string was all twangy sounding compared to the others, but it was because it was from a different batch, probably two years separated from the others.

    So yes, guitarists do go through this to a degree.

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