reeds_webOn vacation I like to play and experiment with reed making. By trying new things I keep full of fresh ideas and the time it takes to make reeds allows my mind time to wander and relax.

Over break, I had a student return from university who requested advanced reed finishing. This covers knife scraping, micrometer dimensions, scraping for intonation- all the finishing details. The student had profiled cane but it wasn’t shaped. He checked with his university teacher if he could use my Rieger 1A (as I didn’t have a Fox2 shaper at the time). We decided it best to use pieces of Danzi Gouged, Shaped and Profiled (GSP to fellow reed makers) to create good consistency.

But it got me thinking: What is the difference between Fox2 and Rieger 1A?

I have heard from well respected bassoonists they are similar in shape but HOW DO THEY DIFFER?

Of course the Fox2 is a straight shaper and the Rieger 1A is a fold over shaper. But I was curious, were there enough differences to warrant a noticeable alteration in sound? So I bought a used Fox2 to test for similarities and differences in the two shapes. Also, I could see if I preferred one over the other and why.

What I learned: The Basic Rules for Shaping Still Apply

1. Always use a SHARP BLADE.

2. As the blade dulls switch to a sharper blade, especially when doing finishing work.

3. Take small slivers of cane. If taking large chunks, the cane can easily tear past the shape. Giving distorted non-symmetrical cane.

I got a little punchy with a dull blade. I always say I am a good teacher because I make all the same mistakes as my students.
I got a little punchy with a dull blade. I always say I am a good teacher because I make all the same mistakes as my students.

What I like about the Fox2 Shaper:

1. There was no folding over and hoping that I measured the center correctly. And consequently, no worries about altering the tube to compensate if the measurements were slightly off.

2. There is no tugging on the cane. This can happen in the process in using a fold over shaper.

What I didn’t like about the Fox2 Shaper:

1. Once I tightened the screws a little too much and cracked the cane right down the spine. A Tragic loss.

Over-Tightening the Screws can Lead to Cracked Cane. :(
Over-Tightening the Screws can Lead to Cracked Cane. 😦

2. It was hard to gauge if the spine was directly centered. On the fold over shaper I can hold the cane up to the light and center the spine in the center of the shaper. Once I put the cane in the straight shaper, there was no adequate way to tell if the spine was centered.

And to the Question of differences in Shape: 

I placed both pieces of cane directly atop one another and looked for portions of cane that hung over the edges. I didn’t find any. I checked the Fox2 against the Rieger 1A. And then the Fox2 against a piece of Danzi GSP, again not much extra cane hung over.

For shape purposes, this fabulous bassoonists were right- the shapes are almost identical. The difference is: fold over vs. straight shaper. And does the fold over stretch the cane? Check back for an update on this question- as I go in search of the answer.

1 comment

  1. Eryn…I’ve really enjoyed reading and viewing your “summer cane reviews” . Wow! Fantastic information and so usable. I’d like you to continue these videos…might I suggest contacting Roger Tropman at Nexus Bassoon Supplies…he sells on EBay as Telemann2 and peddles several different shapes and brands of cane. I’ve used his Vandoren Gouged Cane (MUCH less expensive than Brian Charles’), as well as some GSP with Herzberg and Rieger 1A shapes using Rigotti Cane. He’s also selling a couple different mandrel tips, a Sakakeeny Model and his original tip that closely matches some Christlieb tips I have used. I’ve recently discovered DUKOFF cane from Bulgaria…VERY inexpensive ($1 per piece of Gouged cane for several different brands, sometimes actually cheaper than that..which appeals to my personal Scottish heritage LOL). Keep up the good work!!

    Frank Watson
    Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra
    Converse College Petrie School of Music


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