How do you tell if your reed is stuffy or free-blowing?

Resistance describes how easily your reed accepts your air. If you are playing with a normal embouchure and your normal air expectations, you want your reed to vibrate well. If it feels off, your reed can be described as either stuffy or free-blowing.

Your reed is stuffy if it doesn’t have an ideal air capacity and flow. If getting the reed to vibrate feels like blowing through a coffee straw, your reed is resistant.

Your reed is free-blowing if it has more than ideal air capacity and flow. When you play on a reed like this, you might stop and react by saying, “Wow, this reed is lively.” Playing free-blowing reeds feels big, loose, and easy.

The material in this learning module comes from The Banana of Life: Peeling Away the Mysteries of Reed Making for the Bassoon by Rian Craypo and has been edited for clarity by Jessi Vandagriff. Please do not share or distribute this information to those not using the decision-based learning model. Used with permission.

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