Today, I’m going to show you a new technique using the ReedGeek Geeklet that will help get your darker, more resistant sounding reeds to have more of an edge and brightness.
As you all may know, for the past several years, I’ve been using a tool called the ReedGeek on all of my reeds. It has become a tool I just cannot live without.
I want to introduce to you an evolution of this tool which has made it even better and more affordable.
This tool is the new Geeklet, and while I still love my other ReedGeeks, this one is my favorite by far.
3 Geeklet Design Improvements
The first is the handle. Now we have a reed adjusting tool that allows us to get a nice grip for whatever we’re doing. If I’m flattening the table which I do on every single reed before each and every playing session. Or if I’m balancing the tip or clearing out some stuffiness. With a better grip I can be be more precise in my movements and achieve better results.
Second, the surface of the Geeklet has this amazing Zirconium finish so it feels even sharper than before. My other ReedGeeks are still just as sharp today as they were on day one. However, this new design is another level for me.
Thirdly, the price. Adding the plastic handle reduces the amount of the special alloy metal these are made with, which greatly reduces the cost.
The Geeklet is available right now for $49. That puts it at about the cost of 2 boxes of reeds which is around the amount you need to go through to have this investment pay for itself. After those initial 2 boxes I’d say it’s all bonus.
If you have a ReedGeek already, let us know in the comments your experiences with it.
How to use the ReedGeek Geeklet
I’m going to do a quick refresher on the basics of using the ReedGeek. This tool will help get better performance and longevity out of each every reed, I promise.
When I take a new reed out of the box I’ll wet it first and then flatten the table with the Geeklet. Flat mouthpiece table, plus flat reed table together, equals setting yourself up for success.
If you are hearing squeaks when you play, or some notes don’t speak well. Very often the culprit comes down to this connection between the reed and the mouthpiece.
With the ReedGeek we can make our reeds perfectly flat in a few seconds and the reason I do this before every playing session is that reeds warp constantly. They are made out of flexible wood essentially and every time they get wet and then dry out again there will be some degree of warpage happening.
I also do this when testing multiple mouthpieces with the same reed. If I spend several minutes playing a reed on one particular mouthpiece, that reed is going to conform somewhat to the dimensions of that mouthpiece.
When I switch to a different mouthpiece it’s best to do another pass with the ReedGeek. This essentially resets the reed to zero.
Tips with the ReedGeek Geeklet
Now if your mouthpiece has an uneven facing, tip, rails or table that’s another story; and something you will want to correct by either getting it refaced or getting a new more precise mouthpiece.
We always want a certain degree of precision in the mechanisms of the saxophone. The closer things are to the the point where the sound is produced the more acutely we are going to feel every defect.
This adjustment on the table is extremely easy, anyone can do it, plus it’s very satisfying. By doing this, I know that I’ve eliminated one potential weak spot in the sound production chain. When I put that reed on I know the table is going to be flat.
If you do nothing else with the ReedGeek apart from flattening the table – that’s already a huge win.
But if you get into some slightly more advanced adjustments, you can even more out of every reed.
Evening out the Rails
After flattening the table, another great tool for you is to even out the rails.
When reeds are cut at the factory, some come out really good, some are just okay, and others never seem to work at all right? Everyone who’s played through a box of reeds has experienced this.
That consistency comes down to the quality of the cane, and how picky the manufacturer is with which reeds get put in a box for sale and which ones go in the discard pile.
There is always going to be some degree of variation though since reeds are organic, right?
Line up all the reeds from a box and you’ll see that none are perfectly symmetrical.
If you feel that one rail is stiffer or less flexible than the other, you can even those out by removing a bit of the cane with the ReedGeek.
Whenever I do this, I am using very, very gentle pressure. The Geeklet is so sharp it really does all the work for you.
Take off a little bit of cane and then test and repeat as necessary.
Removing Stuffiness from the Heart
Another adjustment I do on a lot of reeds is to take out some of the stuffiness from the heart. You’ll notice I do this mainly on both sides of the reed as necessary. Again you’re going to want to take off a small amount of cane, then test. The more you practice the better and faster you’ll get. In the beginning there’s a certain amount of experimentation you need to do. I recommend starting with some reeds that didn’t play well for you. They’ll have the greatest room for improvement, plus you’ve got nothing to lose.
Getting More Edge to Your Reeds
Now here’s the new trick I promised you… This will help get more edge into the sound of reeds when you want that.
The shape and amount of spine in the reed can have a big impact on the edginess of the sound. For example, if you take a classical saxophone reed, or example, it’s going to have a beefier spine, because you want a more pure and round sound in that style of playing.
A jazz cut reed will often have a less pronounced spine. That allows for more edge and brightness in the sound.
There are lots of other variables involved, but one thing you can do on your reeds that feel overly resistant is take the ReedGeek and gently scrape from the base of the spine all the way through to the tip.
I recommend you experiment with this adjustment on your reeds that are a bit too stiff. Eventually, they’ll fall right into the sweet spot where you’ve got some edge and the right amount of resistance. Hopefully your reeds will be more free blowing for you.
If you are worried about messing up your reeds don’t. I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of old reeds to practice on. There is no shortage of bad reeds out there that you wouldn’t have used anyway.
Take an hour to play around with some of these things. You’ll be amazed at how easy it actually is and how much you can improve your reeds in a few seconds.
Once you do that, I’m sure you will be hooked. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without one until now!
Looking for more on the ReedGeek? Check out “Bad Reeds and How to Fix Them.”