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Copyright 2009 Dale Clark
One of the questions most asked by avid reed makers is: what are your dial indicator measurements? I tend to refer students to the Don Christlieb dial indicator measurements given to me by Gary Echols, my bassoon instructor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. These measurements have been a type of ideal for me to use as a reference if I need help setting up a profiler and in reed finishing. I set up my profiler .05 mm thicker in the back than the ideal of .75 mm to allow for the possibility of softer cane. I set the thickness at the fold to be .50 mm. I find that once I tip profile my reeds on my Rieger tip profiler that my style A reed is very close to finished. Dr. Matthew Ruggiero encouraged me to make my profiling machine's depth as thin as possible because too much hand work results in an asymmetrical reed. Because of the exacting set up of my machines I don’t rely on dial indicators as much in the finishing stage as I do the feel, crow and actual performance of the reed. Dick Kilmer, my good friend and Professor of Oboe at Eastman School of Music, believes that bouncing the dial indicator stem up and down on the cane too much has a negative effect on the cane. So, I use much care in placing the dial indicator stem on the cane. I use the dial indicator to set up my machines and then at the end finishing stage to make sure that my reed is balanced, or symmetrical, from side to side, especially if I am experiencing any playing problems. I find that balancing the reed, if it varies more than .05 mm in thickness in corresponding locations on opposite sides of the reed, will usually make an improvement in the reed’s performance.
You can view the Christlieb dial indicator measurements as given to me by Gary Echols in my photo album on page 2.