Shapers

shapers

A standard tool in any reed making kit is a shaper. This gives the proper dimension to the reed blade and tube. I have a few that I have collected and I really only use 2 or 3 of them. I have always found it very interesting that such small changes (hundredths of millimeters) could make such a dramatic difference in tone, pitch , and ease of response/articulation.

I mostly use fold over shapers in conjunction with a handle. But I think I am going start finding more straight shapers. I have…

Fox 2  15.2mm tip

1A 15.5mm

13 15.5mm

14 14.5mm

K1 20.5mm

C2 23mm

For myself I use a Reiger 14 shaper and I am very impressed by the response. I can articulate a high F, and still play pianissimo low notes IN TUNE without struggle. I find that my students respond best to the Reiger 13. The 13 is like the 1A except the tube is narrower, this back pressure helps with air management and articulation. The Fox 2 straight shape is a really great shape, and I would really suggest that this be a high school students’ first shape.

The K1 and C2 are both new to me. The K1 is a contrabassoon shaper and unlike all of the very subtle differences in bassoon shapes, the contrabassoon shapers are all dramatically different. The K1 to me is a very standard shape and makes the style of reed that I am most used to playing on.

The C2 is a contraforte shape which ends up making very wide reeds, and so far this is one of the two contraforte shapes that exist. There is still some debate over the length of contraforte cane. Contrabassoon cane is 150mm which is what some CF players use, for me that creates a reed that is unstable and actually tend to be flat. I mostly use 160mm cane which suits this shape pretty well. I have even heard of people using 170 and 180mm cane!

Now my teacher Steve Braunstein has quite a collection of straight shapers. What is interesting about them is that you are about to shape one side of the cane, slide the cane over a bit, and shape the other side. So in our experiments to find contraforte reed shape he is able to use contrabassoon shapes and make them wider. This is a great advantage to me since there are few options for CF shapes, so I will be finding some straight shapers in the future.

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