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Wednesday, September 30th 2009

6:41 PM

Bassoon Profiling Part One

In this blog entry I am going to discuss the three profiling machines that I use: Popkin, Pfeiffer and Reedsn’stuff by Udo Heng.  

For my style A reed I use the Popkin bassoon and contrabassoon cane profiling machine, made in 1993, that I use with the auto-shoulder option and the flat bottom of the pins so I have a spine in the center of the profile.  You can reverse the pins if desired so that there is no spine and that the finish profile on those pieces would be the same thickness at the rails as in the center.  I find that the profile I use makes the finishing not only faster, since I want the rails thinner than the spine, but also more symmetrical as the machine does more exacting work on the rails than can be accomplished by hand.  If the reed is more resistant than desired because of the spine, I can blend the spine in using a needle file with very little work and usually with great success.  My machinist has added several features on my machine including a scribe for the shoulder and center line, centering lines on the easel, and a dial indicator to measure the adjustment of the guide bar.  I had seen some profilers supplied with a dial indicator to measure the thickness of the cane while it was attached to the easel.  It seemed too difficult to accomplish that on my Popkin profiler, especially with an easel that can be moved too easily and the requirement to zero in the dial indicator and keep it perfectly adjusted with all the moving parts involved.  Instead, we mounted the indicator to an arm that can move over the guide and give accurate readouts on the amount I raise and lower the guide at both ends of the scrape.  Hopefully, you will soon see a photo of this in my album.

My Pfeiffer machine, for reed style B and C, also has the option of having a spine, but the shoulder is gradual rather than being as well-defined as in the case of the Popkin.  Since I make a longer reed with the Pfeiffer, having the gradual shoulder with the slightly thicker back as a result, the reed then holds the pitch, especially third space e, because the longer reed is balanced by the thicker profile.  The wider tip because of the longer reed means the reed will respond especially well in the low register.  One feature I have added to this machine is a thinner shim so that I can adjust the thickness of the profile as little as .05 mm.

My Reedsn’stuff profiler is the most adjustable machine I have ever worked with.  I use this machine for my style R reeds. One of the most interesting features is being able to move the actual guide bar so you can adjust where the break in the slope will occur on the reed.  This break in the slope occurs because the guide bar is actually a two-piece apparatus, hinged in the middle, with separate adjustment posts under each end.  You can not only adjust the degree of slope, thus thickness, with each guide bar post, you can also adjust the overall thickness by raising and lowering the wheel on the carriage.  The easel on this machine scribed in a way that allows perfect centering from both ends as well as centering the spine on the easel.  The scribing devices for the shoulder and center lines are easily adjustable in position as well as depth.  This is a sophisticated and complex machine with capabilities to produce a variety of profiles not possible on my other machines. 

I will further discuss the details of my profiling, including dimensions in a future blog. 

Please see my photo album for pictures of my various reed styles as well as photos from the IDRS conference and other double reed events.  I will be adding more pictures as my work schedule allows.



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