Improve Your Tone By Rotating Reeds

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Have you ever found a reed that you loved; a reed that played easily and was rich and full? What do we want to do with that reed? Usually we want to play on it every practice session and performance. However, doing this may wear out your favorite reed quickly. To ensure that your reed lasts longer, you should rotate your reeds.

What is Rotating?

Rotating reeds simply means that you have multiple reeds ready to play, and you alternate them. If you’re playing every day I would suggest having 4-5 reeds in rotation. So, if you’re playing 5 days a week (one time a day) you would play reed #1 the first day, and then reed #2 the second day. That means that you’ll play on the same reed 1 time a week, or just 4 times a month. In addition, these reeds should also be properly prepared. You can find instructions on preparing reeds here.

What if I Don’t Rotate?

As mentioned, your reeds will wear out faster. As you play the same reed every day, it begins to break down. This will happen no matter what, but it will occur faster if you are only playing on one reed. However, this is not the worst part. As the reed begins to slowly break down, your embouchure becomes familiar with that reed only. You’ve probably had this experience. Here’s an example:

Your reed plays great, and in fact, it becomes easier and easier to play over time. Then, your worst reed nightmare comes true: the reed breaks as you’re returning it to the reed case. You are surprised, sad, and become frustrated with yourself. You think, “I should have been more careful”. So what do you do? You get out a brand new reed, and you go to play it. What comes out? Nothing! You finally get a sound to come out, but the reed is really difficult to play; it’s like an embouchure and diaphragm work out to get a good tone.

Then, after about a week, the reed becomes easier to play and all is well again…at least until your reed breaks again. Luckily, we know how this can be avoided.

Rotating For the Embouchure

If we rotate our reeds, the embouchure will gain the ability to play on multiple reeds, rather than just one. All reeds are a little different, so if you’re playing on a different reed every day, your embouchure will become more versatile. In other words, you’ll be able to play on more reeds, and when you add a new reed into the rotation, it will be easier to play.

The Process

Above, I mentioned that the reeds simply need to be rotated. Here’s the process:

  1. Have a reed holder ready
  2. Remove new reed from packaging
  3. Follow this process for preparing reeds (they’ll last longer)
  4. Number your reeds (example: 1-5)
  5. Play on reed 1, on day 1 and return reed to reed holder
  6. Play on reed 2, on day 2 and return reed to reed holder
  7. Continue process through all reeds and repeat


The results and benefit of applying this process include:

  1. Improved tone
  2. A versatile embouchure
  3. You’ll save money on reeds

Give this process a try and let us know how it goes. If you already apply this method of rotating of reeds, please share your experience in the comment section. It’s always great to hear people’s experiences!

Have fun playing!

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