On this page I will post notes about reedmaking techniques from my studies with Lou Skinner and my own further experience and experiments. There is a wealth of information, so check back from time to time.
For starters, here are my notes on my sessions with Lou on “fulcrum settings.”
Lou’s concept of “fulcrum” meant the degree of “resilience” produced by the relative height measurements along the length of the tube (shank) of the reed. Other factors – gouge and shape – also contribute to the degree of resilience.
As background, by “resilience,” Lou meant the amount of “spring” in the reed. That is, for two reeds with the same size tip opening, which reed requires much pressure to close the tip with your fingers; how quickly and forcefully does it spring back open when you release your fingers? Two reeds with the same size tip opening can have radically different amounts of resilience. Lou also called this “aperture strength.”
The “fulcrum” is produced by the relative height measurements of the tube at the three wires. These variations are achieved by the careful use of appropriate forming mandrels, both straight and tapered. There are four basic fulcrum types. In ascending order of resilience, these are conical, parallel/conical, conical/parallel, and parallel:
1. Conical. The tube height gradually decreases from the butt forward.
This produces the weakest aperture.
2. Parallel/Conical. The height is parallel from the butt to the second wire, then conical in front of the second wire. This produces a relatively weak aperture.
3. Conical/Parallel. The height is conical from the butt to the second wire, then parallel from the second wire to the first wire. This produces a medium-strong aperture.
4. Parallel. The height is parallel from the butt to the first wire.
Produces the strongest aperture.