Get Your Reeds to Last Longer- Guaranteed!

Recently, we provided tips for finding the right reeds, and how the right reed can greatly improve your tone. More specifically:

This is valuable information, because these tips will be a launching pad for your tone. In addition, when you have the perfect reed, the 3rd tip above can help that reed last longer. In this post, we’re going to add 1 additional tip. This one will help your reeds last even longer than before- guaranteed!

This Story May Seem Crazy, But It’s True!

This next story is no joke, but absolutely true. I know, because it happened to me! As an undergraduate I had a reed that wasn’t working very well (a new reed). My saxophone instructor made some adjustments to the reed to get it working properly. It went from being a bad reed to an amazing reed, instantly! I didn’t want the reed to die on me, so I applied the following process (as outlined in the next section). Do you know how long that reed lasted?

  • 1 Month?
  • 2 Months?
  • 3 Months?

The reed functioned properly for 6 months! I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a reed last that long since then, but by applying these tips you can get your reeds to last multiple months. Are you ready? Here’s how you do it!

The Process

  1. Moisten the reed in your mouth, or in a cup of water (15-30 seconds). It doesn’t take long, and be careful not to waterlog the reed.
  2. Slide the back side (or the table) of the reed back and forth on a piece of cardboard (such as the back cover of a spiral notebook). Check out the video below for a visual example.

  3. Get the reed wet again (no need to soak it 15-30 seconds again) and repeat step 2
  4. Wet the reed again
  5. Take your thumb (don’t wash your hands first) and rub the top (vamp) of the reed
  6. Get the reed wet again and repeat step 5
  7. Place the reed in a reed holder (not the one it came in)
  8. Place the reed holder in a sealed plastic bag (sandwich bag) and let sit for 24 hours
  9. Repeat the process for 2-5 days.

What Does This Process Do?

It’s quite simple. When the reed is cut at the factory, the pores in the wood are cut open. The reed is then shipped to you. If you start playing on the reed immediately, water/saliva can enter the pours and waterlog the reed. Then, if it dries out too quickly, the reed warps. This can make the reed more difficult to play and make your tone worse. So, we polish the back side of the reed, closing off the pores, and we rub the top of the reed. As we rub the reed, the dirt and oil from our thumb clogs the pores (I know, pretty gross but effective. After this process, some reeds can look really old and still be brand new). The clogging of the pores protects the reed from being waterlogged, and increases the life of the reed.

That’s It!

Give it a try and you’ll notice a big difference in the longevity of your reeds.


  1. You’ll be able to play on your best reeds for a longer period of time
  2. You’ll save money because you won’t go through reeds as quickly
  3. You won’t go through the frustrating process (as often) of trying to find new reeds.

Lot’s of benefits for a little bit of work!

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. What are your thoughts? Do you use a different process? Please share your comments below. Also, if you liked this post please share and like it. This helps get the word out. Thanks!

Comments 4

    1. Post
  1. Thanks alot..
    I will try it..:)
    Someone say the saliva can digest the reed and make it they suggest to wash it using a body soap..
    What do you think about that?

    Warm regards,


    1. Post

      Hi S. Johnson,

      That makes sense that saliva can break down a reed, but in the professional arena, I’ve never heard of this being an issue or focus. As I mentioned in this post, I’ve had a reed last up to 6 months so I wonder how much of a difference washing could make. The nice thing about washing the reed, is that you can give it a try and find out. I would be surprised if you found a significant difference, but if you have the time, you could do the experiment. Let me know how it goes!

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