Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to: Maintain your Reed Supply

I think one of the most difficult things a young reed maker faces is the challenge of having to maintain their own reed supply. Over the last 10 years I've developed methods and tricks that help me to always have a steady stream of reeds, and I wanted to share them with you today.

how to maintain your reed supply

The number one thing that I do to maintain my reed supply is to work through each step on 3 reeds every day. This means that I tie on 3 reeds every day, I do the first scrape on 3 reeds every day, and I do the second/final scrape on 3 reeds every day. I work on a total of 9 reeds daily in this assembly line fashion. Doing this allows me to have 3 reeds in the hopper for the next step; each day I'm taking the previous day's work a step further.

Students frequently want to work through all three steps on one reed and then move to the next reed and do it all again. The result of doing this is that they only have finished (or what they think of as finished) reeds in their box. This can be devastating when their teacher isn't pleased with the result and table tests all of their hard work! If they had done their reed work in stages, they would at least have 3 blanks and 3 reeds started to pick up and start over again with.

tracking reeds in a reed notebook

The other thing that I do that I think helps with my reed supply is to track my reeds in a reed notebook. All of my staples are numbered to help me know which reed is which. I write the date that they are tied on, with their number, the color of the thread, and the type of cane that I used. The next time I work on the reed I note what day it is, and when I finish the reed I do the same. I also can notate if I end up destroying a reed and the reason, i.e. the cane was mealy or I shredded the tip. I frequently note when I have a really good piece of cane, or if I'm using a different type of staple. I also use this system to keep track of which reeds are going to which students (so I can keep track of how old their reeds are) as well as the reeds that I sell online.

Both of these systems help me keep on top of my reed making process and ensure that I have a really steady reed supply. There isn't a magic wand that gives you perfect reeds, but hard work and consistency will help you become a solid reed maker. Of course, if it all seems like too much for you, I'd be happy to maintain your reed supply for you!

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