FAQ & Tips

What is the best way to break in reeds?

Play-in new reeds: play them for a few minutes each day before normal use to break them in.

How to play with a reed too hard or too easy?

  • If a reed is too tight, scrape its table (flat part of the reed) in light circular motions using our reed resurfacer.
  • If a reed is too easy, cut the end of the reed by the equivalent of only one hair, using a reed trimmer.

What about Vandoren and Environment?

At Vandoren, we are always looking for better ways to produce our products in harmony with the environment. Our factory and offices uses only LED lighting and our vehicles to get around our production site are all electrical.

The cane used as material for making reeds is a 100% natural plant. It should be emphasized that the shiny part of the reed is not varnish but the natural bark of the reed. Reed cane waste resulting from the manufacture of reeds is fully reused either as compost in our plantations or to feed the boiler that heats our plant. This recent, high-efficiency facility releases only water vapor and CO2 into the atmosphere. It is important to underline that Co2 being of plant origin, and not fossil, its dissemination in the atmosphere does not contribute to the increase of the greenhouse gas emission. The quantity released during combustion is in fact globally offset by the amount of atmospheric Co2 absorbed by the plant during its two years of growth.

The plastic reed protector is made of 100% recyclable polypropylene (with the triangular symbol pp5). It can be recycled in most countries as you already may do with many other plastic products. Our patented protector was released in 1985 and guarantees to firmly hold the reed in place on a flat surface. Of course, once the flow pack is open, you can use it as a reedcase or recycle it.

The “flow pack” was released in 2005. The choice of our supplier was made according to the technical requirements related to the performance of the flow pack for the protection of the reed. We continue to research biodegradable or compostable films. The fineness of the films we use has the advantage of limiting the volume of waste in comparison with other packaging solutions such as a waterproof box or hygrometry maintenance methods.

The cellophane used for our reeds boxes is a very common type based on polypropylene.

The cardboardboxes and cases are produced by companies that are strongly committed to the path of ecology.

I just bought a new mouthpiece; how should I maintain it?

During the first weeks after your purchase we recommend that you do not store your mouthpiece in the case of your instrument, especially if it has silver keys. It is best to keep it in its packaging, or in a pouch such as the P200 / P201 which also keeps it away from the light (UV) to which it is sensitive.

In general, do not expose your mouthpiece permanently to the light to keep it shiny.

Your mouthpiece must be cleaned with cold water, possibly with liquid soap such as dish soap, then, well dried with a soft cloth. It should not be cleaned in the dishwasher or even cleaned with hot water.

If you have an old mouthpiece to which you want to give back its beautiful black color and its shiny aspect, you can easily have it polished by the person who maintains your instrument.


Your VANDOREN OPTIMUM or M / O ligature benefits from a high quality surface treatment.

To preserve its shine, we advise you to maintain it carefully.
After each use, it is recommended to clean it with a slightly damp (clean water) cloth then dry it carefully with a soft and clean microfiber-type cloth and store it in a dry place.

Regarding silver treatments in particular, it is strongly recommended not to store the ligatures in the immediate vicinity of a hard rubber mouthpiece.

If you notice an alteration in the treatment (stains, tarnish), you can use a very soft polishing paste such as “metal polish” to bring back its shine.
A mild toothpaste can also be used but is not recommended on a new ligature, especially silver plated.

Whatever the treatment, never use an acidic product (vinegar, acidic metal brightener, etc.), as this will permanently alter the surface treatment.

Why having a flow pack?

Vandoren exports 95% of its reeds worldwide, and often the journey is long to the musician, in distance and time, in very dry or very humid climates. And the box of reeds can be stocked or displayed in the sunny frontage of a shop, with conditioned air. That is why we implemented Flow Pack packaging that prevents the reed from humidity changes and keeps each reed flat with an individual reed protector, thereby delivering the reeds to you in Factory Fresh condition.

The Flow Pack packaging is especially important in countries where the hygrometry varies strongly, such as Japan or Brazil, or in very hot and dry regions such as Texas or Arizona. It is a real improvement for musicians that live or perform in these climates because it considerably limits the warping of the reeds and thus preserves the original quality of the reed from the factory to the musician.

Furthermore, concerning the musicians who buy their reeds individually, (which is the case in many countries), the individual packaging is a little revolution in convenience!
We receive many positive feedback on the flow pack, especially from musicians who travel a lot or live in areas where the climate is extreme.

Is it better to use water or your saliva to wet a reed?

It may be better to use water to wet the reed. Some people have a high acidity level in their saliva that can wear out the reeds more quickly. However, make sure not to leave the reed in the water for too long.

Was the cane better than it is today?

No. It is a plant, so a natural product with all the nuances that go with it.

Many experiments have been made to find a replacement material. If we had to produce only one sound, we could perhaps consider finding any synthetic material that would achieve a good sound. But you must have an immediate response on four octaves with adding the dynamic nuances and until now, we have not found better than the reed.

Usefuls tips

  • It is important not to consistently play on a reed which is too hard or too soft. This will limit the capabilities of the mouthpiece you have chosen.
  • Prowling the reeds: play them for a few minutes a day for a while before adopting them.
  • Do not get used to a single reed. Stiffness loosens as the reed weakens. All the reeds then seem too strong.
  • Choose your reed to suit the place where you are :
    • A softer reed in a resonant, dry, air-conditioned venue.
    • A harder reed in an acoustically “dull” room, outdoors, or in a damp place.
  • A musician accustomed to playing with a Reed 3 1/2 will choose a Reed No. 3 if he plays in an air-conditioned room, or a reed No. 4 if he is to play in a very humid region close to Ecuador for example