Breaking In A New Reed

We suggest that you break the reeds in by first soaking them for about 2-4 minutes in lukewarm to warm water, and making sure that the whole vamp, and not just the tip alone, gets wet (a reed that is too dry or only wet at the very tip might tend to squeak). Some players, especially in dry weather, prefer a little more soaking time and a some others like immersing the whole reed in the water. Then again, if you soak it for too long, it may end up becoming waterlogged, so try a balanced approach. And make sure you wet the reed each succeeding time you play thereafter, though you may find that as it gets broken in, less soaking time will be necessary.

After the soaking is operation is done, place the reed you want to prepare on glass or a similar flat surface and massage it (starting from the back of the vamp slope) with your finger or fingers several strokes forward towards the tip, in order to help close off the fiber ends and stabilize the cane.

Breaking in for Softer Reeds

Then comes the break-in secret for reeds which feel just right or run a little on the soft side.  

Break in the reeds like this by playing them at no louder than mp-m and for the first day only a few minutes and maybe 5-10 minutes the second day.

By breaking them in at mezzo or softer and for not too long in the first couple of days, the reeds should last longer and be more stable for full bore playing later.  And contrarily, playing reeds that feel just right or somewhat soft all out at fortissimo from the first day or so might overstress the tips which then lead to shorter service time.

A tendency of these reeds is to harden a little after a few days of playing, so you may find a slightly softer reed that will end up being perfect in a few days after break in.

Harder Reeds

For any reeds which feel considerably hard the first time you play them, you should skip the above Breaking in for Softer Reeds procedure and just play them normally from then on.

You can also easily adjust harder reeds with the steps outlined on our Reed Customizing page.   Please note that it's generally easier to soften a reed that is too hard, than the other way around.  There are several methods and tools which work well for softening reeds.