Sunday, June 30, 2019

U of Iowa: Advanced Reedmaking Workshop: Giorgio Versiglia


This post is written in collaboration with the marvelous Eryn Oft!  Be sure to watch her accompanying video.

            


May 17-19, 2019 I attended the University of Iowa, Advanced Reed-making Workshop with Italian bassoonist, performer, educator, and tool-maker/owner of Andante e Rondo, Giorgio Versiglia.  This remarkable workshop was hosted by: Benjamin Coelho and Eryn Oft.




If you aren't familiar with these three wonderful bassoonists, click on those links and learn about their work!  


For the duration of this post: 
GV = Giorgio Versiglia, AeR = Andante e Rondo

I have been playing on GV's style of reeds exclusively for the past month.  It has been wonderful and proven to me that this is an effective and efficient style of reedmaking.  I have also learned that applying GV's principles to your current shape and profile will also yield positive results.  I have used the AeR tools that are specific to the GV process but there are also fundamental principals which can be applied to the materials you currently use.  I have found these principles to be quite different from how I have made reeds previously.  Thus far in my experience, applying those principles to my own GSP have vastly improved my reed quality with a shorter finishing time.  

Photo credit: Eryn Oft
What you need:
  • Gouged, shaped, profiled cane -  GV's cane from AeR - or any that you already have.  I have applied GV's style to Reiger 1, Rieger 1A, Fox 1, and Fox 3, all with Gonzalez tube cane, with excellent results.  I have also used AeR cane (with GV's specific shape and profile) which I also highly recommend.  
  • 24 gauge soft brass wire - this link will take you to the specific wire used by GV.  I have been using my preexisting stock of 24-gauge wire which you will see in my images and videos.  
Photo credit: Eryn Oft
  • forming mandrel, AeR forming mandrel
  • holding mandrel, AeR mandrel
  • flat diamond file, AeR file
  • calipers                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Tip cutters/clippers (mine pictured below), AeR clipper (check these out, very different) 
                                       
  • Cotton Thread
  • Titebond II Wood Glue (available on Amazon)
Photo credit: Eryn Oft


                           

DAY 1
       

1. Begin by beveling the entire length of the tube.  Using the diamond flat file, held vertically, file in an up-and-down motion ensuring you do not over bevel (creating gaps on the side of tube) but adequately removing any angle which would prevent the tube from sealing.  

Photo credit: Eryn Oft
2. Clip one side of the tube 27 mm from collar to butt.  GV clips the tube one half at a time.  Clipping the tube at once risks cracking into the blade.  

3. Fold the cane.

4. Clip the opposite side of tube to match the length.  You may still need to sand the butt of the tube to make it perfectly even.  Wait to sand until after the reed has been wrapped.  


You are looking at my personal notes from the workshop.
                                         
5.  Using 24 gauge, soft brass wire, wrap the the top wire 3x's.  Position the wire 32 mm from the fold.  Measure from the fold to the top of the wire.  You will twist the wire a few times but not tighten all the way to the cane.  You will pull the wire as tight as possible but leave a gap from the twist to the cane.  Watch the video because this sounds basic but there is a bit of nuance.  

6. Subdividing the tube into 3 sections, cut 2 scores in the outer sections.  This can be done with an exacto knife or traditional reed knife.  You will run the knife up into the tube allowing the score to travel to the first wire but your knife will not need to travel all the way to top wire.  If you have placed the top wire tight enough, the score will not travel into the blade. 

7.  Insert forming mandrel by twisting the reed onto the mandrel.  I highly recommend purchasing the AeR forming mandrel (and other tools) which are very reasonably priced and will provide you the best results for this process.  Press the tube around the mandrel using your fingers (not crimping with pliers).  

Photo credit: Eryn Oft


Photo credit: Eryn Oft

8. Remove the reed from the forming mandrel, press tube back together, cut 2 more scores into the middle section in the same manner as before.  You will now have 6 scores approximately 1 mm apart.  

9.  Place reed on holding mandrel by twisting the reed down to the marked line (if you are using the AeR holding mandrel). Wrap the bottom wire 3X's, placing it 6 mm from the butt.  Measure 6 mm from the butt to the bottom of the wire.  

There may be error regarding whether to tighten down the top wire at the end of the first day or not.
Eryn's notes (and pic) show a top wire that is tightened down.  My notes were different.
Day 2

           
   

1.  Now that the cane is fully dry, you can tighten down the wires.  If you are using the AeR holding mandrel, keep tightening the bottom wire until the reed sits 8 - 10 mm above the marked line.  In my experience with these reeds, this can be almost impossible to do without breaking the wire that I am currently using.  I believe GV's wire might be of a slightly harder quality that allows him to keep pulling.  My 24 gauge wire has almost always broken at this step.  Do your best!

2.  Wrap with cotton thread and Titebond II wood glue.  I have been using my typical nylon thread with Duco cement which will not alter the results but it will narrow the tube as it dries.  As Eryn mentions in her video, the Titebond glue takes longer to dry and becomes tacky when soaked in water even after the initial drying of the glue.  I noticed that for the reeds tied with cotton/wood glue, I only soak/wet the blade and avoid the tube/wrap getting wet as much as possible.  In general, I am soaking these reeds for only a fraction of the time as compared to how much soaking I have done in the past.  

*Every stage of the GV process requires very little soaking:
  • GSP cane before forming the tube, soak only a few minutes.  
  • Placing the blank on the profiler can be done dry.  
  • Working on the reed needs just a few dips of the blade, leaving the tube completely dry through the finishing process.
  • Playing on the reed can almost be done completely dry (especially impressive as I live in the mountain west at 4,800 feet).  Dipping the blade into water and then letting it sit for a minute is sufficient preparation for playing. 
3.  Place blank on the AeR tip profiler to finish and it will be ready to play requiring, if any, only minor adjustments.  Pictured below is the tip profile created by the AeR profiling machine using template #7002.

*I have adjusted and am using my Rimple tip profiler (adjusted to leave on more cane than my previous setting) to create a ready-to-play reed.  Not the same shape of profile as the AeR but the process is still successful.  However, I fully intend to purchase the AeR tip profiler in the future. 
Andate e Rondo Tip Profiler template #7002

4.  Ream the tube for a perfect bocal fit.  highly recommend the AeR reamer!  It is by far my favorite reamer to date (Fox, Riegers, Miller 2X wet/dry).  In addition to a clean/consistent cut, the reamer has a stop that can be adjusted with an Allen wrench for a precise ream every time.  If you use the AeR tip profiler be sure you do not ream the reed prior to tip profiling as this may cause the reed to slide around on the mandrel and create an uneven tip.

The clippers used by GV and sold on AeR website, as indicated above, are from a Japanese maker.
Check back for detailed information on how to hand finish this reed style.  

Great news!  
Giorgio will be teaching a reedmaking workshop in August.  
You can learn more HERE.





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