4 Tips To Make Your Reed Last Longer Through Balancing

Balancing a reed is the delicate art of shaving down a reed to better fit your mouthpiece and your specific embrasure in order to get the tone and articulation that you desire. Learning how to balance a reed can take some time, but once you get it down, it is a quick process that can extend the life of your reeds and help you produce a better sound. Below are a few tips to consider if you are trying to decide whether to balance a reed or get rid of it.  

Consider the Weather 

If the humidity suddenly changes, the shape and feel of your reeds may change as well. You should not balance your reeds when it very humid outside, as the reed will be swollen and you may end up over-balancing it. Instead, find a reed or two fit well on humid days and set them aside so you can use them when the weather is wet. 

Make Sure You Test Your Reed When It Is Fully Wet 

A reed should be fully wet when you test it. While some people choose to wet their reeds in their mouths, you may want to run it under water instead, to make sure the water permeates the entire reed evenly. After wetting the reed, you should test and balance it before you begin a lesson or practice, to prevent the reed from swelling in certain areas before balancing. 

Try Balancing Your Reed Before Getting Rid of It 

Eventually, your reeds will wear out and you will need to replace them. But balancing an old reed will almost always get you a few extra hours of practice from it. You should consider balancing your reeds before you throw them away. Old reeds are especially good to practice new balancing techniques. For example, if you have never used a balancing knife, try it on an old reed that you are planning to throw out anyways. 

Get More Use Of Your Reed By Clipping the Tip and Balancing 

Another technique for getting more use from your reeds is to clip the tip when it becomes too thin. Then balance the reed and you will usually get a few good hours of practice out of it. However, you may want to avoid performing with clipped reeds in case they lose their fit while you are playing. 

Balancing can extend the life of your reeds. However, to be effective, you need to know when and how to apply proper balancing techniques. For more information, contact a music store, like A.L.E..