Reed Polishing

Ever wonder why new reeds feel abrasive to your lower lip the first few times you play on them? Now you can do something about it. You can polish them so they are more comfortable to play.

Question: What are reeds? Answer: Pieces of wood. Obviously, right? These “pieces of wood” have been cut to shape. Go out to your garage and cut a two-by-four. What do you have other than two pieces of wood and saw dust? SPLINTERS. Yes that is correct. What you feel on the bottom lip are near-microscopic splinters gouging into your flesh. Though it doesn’t happen often, some players experience bleeding from the lip due to this situation.

No more of that.

Get a new reed. Run your finger on the heart or vamp. Feels rough, doesn’t it?

Take a sheet of clean, non-lined white paper and tear it in half. Typing paper, copy paper, and inkjet paper are all fine. Do not use newspaper, lined notebook paper, or a side of white paper that has printing on it. You do not want ink to transfer to the cane.

Put one half of the paper on a hard, flat surface such as a table or counter. Place the reed on the paper with the table (flat) side down. While being careful not to touch the tip, rub the cane on the paper using a circular motion.

polishing a saxophone reed


Next keep the reed on one half of the paper and pick up the other half. Press and “massage” the heart or vamp using small circular motions. Stay away from the tip. Do this for about a minute.


how to polish a saxophone reed


Now feel the vamp with your finger again. SMOOTH as a baby’s bottom. Your lower lip will feel much more comfortable due to your efforts.




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