Re: Can you soak reeds too long?
This is something I've given a lot of thought and played around with for some time. My current practice is to never let my reeds dry out at all. I have a watertight container that fits in my case and I keep 5 working reeds in a 50/50 mixture of mouthwash and water. Which I change every few days. Originally this was an attempt to keep reeds from warping in the winter when the air can be very dry. I had some concerns about sound and reed life but my experience was that these were unfounded. I've noticed three things. My reeds last a lot longer, play far more consistently and turn a weird clear blue. After I started to think about it this made some sense. the constant expansion and contraction caused by humidity change is a lot harder on wood than being constantly submerged (there are companies that actually salvage waterlogged timber for woodworking) Secondly being completely saturated keeps the reed from being effected by humidity. The reeds actually tend to dry a bit over time but I suspect the change is no more than how much "wetter" a partially saturated reed becomes over the same period. When I replace one of my 5 working reeds the first time I wet it for a couple of minutes and play it a session or two to get a feel of how it plays. I do whatever adjustment I think it
needs and once I've got a "good reed" it goes in the watertight case. By doing this I feel pretty confident that saturating them doesn't change the playing characteristics at least enough that I can notice it beyond normal reed variation. If I had the time I'd probably take the same reed and record myself with it soaked and then let it dry slowly and wet it by mouth and see if I could tell the difference (in fact you'd probably have to repeat this on a number of reeds to actually learn anything) but the simple fact is I've been doing it long enough and have enough recordings of myself on gigs and concerts to compare my sound before and after I started doing this and I neither hear nor feel a difference whether I'm playing a partially or fully saturated reed. On the other had a consensus of saxists would probably be that I am nuts.