Studying for my master’s degree at Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln I learned reed construction techniques from Gary Echols. Gary Echols studied reed making with Lou Skinner and Don Christlieb. Gary later gave me some of Skinner’s mandrels that I still use in my shop. Gary used a two mandrel process in forming: a long thin mandrel, labeled #10 by Skinner, to open the tip and set the first wire opening and then a shorter working mandrel to set the tube opening for the 2nd and third wires. I used this two mandrel process until I studied with Matt Ruggiero at Boston University who suggested “Why don’t you find one mandrel that will do the entire forming process?” It took me a while to find a mandrel that I was satisfied would open the tip properly as well as form the entire tube. Dr. Ruggiero suggested that I insert the mandrel far enough into the tube that I would not need to ream the reed after forming. I found that the Rigotti bassoon forming mandrel was the best tool for that process. I could insert the reed past the last mark when forming and, when I tightened the wires after letting the reed settle, I lined the reed up at the last mark and the reed would fit the bocal well without reaming. I insert the mandrel straight without a twisting motion in order to avoid overlapping the blades. This process has worked for me very well over the years. Carefully aligning the blades before tightening the first wire, when forming, also helps avoid the overlap problem.
I’ll write more about my forming process in a future blog entry. Please submit your comments and questions that are always appreciated.
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