If you’re a newby into the world of double reeds (or any woodwind instrument for that matter) you’ll soon learn that getting and maintaining your favoured reed can be a nightmare!
Beginners are advised to start on a reed that is on the softer side. Soft reeds blow more freely which is ideal when you’re starting out. Reed manufactures like Fortay have developed a reed specifically for beginners to Grade 2 level. The way this reed is shaped makes it speak easily. As with all reeds it’s best to soak the tip for a minute first. The cane will change profile making a nice oval shape that meets at the edges. If you find the reed too hard, trying soaking up to three minutes in warmer water (not hot).
Regardless of ability it’s worth always having a few spare reeds; in case the one you’re using gets damaged or too old and unresponsive. We always have discounts for multi-buys of reeds – you can mix and match different brands to find the perfect reed for you.
It’s really importantly you look after your reeds – they’re expensive and very delicate. The best place to store them is in a reed case that isn’t fully airtight (they can get a bit musty and potentially mouldy otherwise). After you’ve finished playing them soak again in clean water to wash away saliva.
Reeds will last according to how much you practice; typically around 10 hours, but this can vary. Reeds are made from natural cane so can differ wildly! If you keep the reed clean and soak it before and after it will last longer.
Be assured beginners will get through reeds a little quicker at first; mainly due to not keeping eyes on the reed and then looking down to see where fingers should go and consequently bashing the tip of the reed in a shoulder or cheek. Secondly just hitting your teeth when bringing the reed into the mouth.