Gangl, Manuel; Hofmann, Alex, and Mayer, Alexander (2016) "Comparison of characterization methods for B-flat clarinet reeds," in Proceedings of the 7th AAAA Congress on Sound and Vibrations, edited by Mirko Cudina (ALPS Adria Acoustics Association, Ljubljana, Sl) p. 179-186.
Abstract: Clarinet reed makers label the reed strength of a reed according to the playing ease. For the labeling reed makers primarily use two methods. They use reed characterization machines which either (1) measure the mechanical stiffness or (2) the material's hardness. Nowadays also synthetic materials are used for clarinet reeds. In this study both characterization methods will be compared, using 27 B-flat clarinet reeds (3 different strength, manufacturers, and materials). First, a reed hardness tester was used to measure the compliance of three materials (cane, oriented polymer, fiber-reinforced polymer) at three different positions (reed tip, 8 mm, and 16 mm from reed tip). Second, a force- displacement measuring setup was built, consisting of a XYZ translation stage and a force measurement head. Each reed was mounted on a stand. Adjusting the stages caused the measurement head to bend each reed, a read-out displayed the corresponding force. The force was measured at the same three positions. The reeds were bend for 0.25 mm and 0.5 mm and ranked by the measured force. Third, a professional clarinetist played and ranked the reeds by the playing ease. The results indicate that the mechanical stiffness is a better indicator for the playing ease of natural and synthetic reeds than the hardness of the material.