A while back Laura Covey of MKL Reeds contacted me, asking if I was interested in trying some of her reeds. She has a different way of handling the whole reed thing: she has a number of reed makers (twelve at this point), and you can search for the one that works for you. She identifies the reeds by colored dots. If you order three reeds she will send three reeds out to you, each from a different maker, and you can determine if one of those dots works. When you next order you simply request that dot color. Reeds are also guaranteed and returnable (exchanged or refundable) within five days of receipt. From what she says you also don’t have quite the wait time you have with some reed makers: she gets them out within a week.
She sent me six reeds to peruse, each from a different maker.
They really did differ quite a lot. One had no tip to speak of. They measure from 69mm to slightly over 70mm long. Most crowed a C for me, although one was a B. Some crowed only one higher C rather than the free blowing multiple Cs I prefer. Out of the batch she sent me I found I could play on three rather comfortably and I will continue to work with those and see if they are “keepers”.
I found the green, double black and double red dots to fit me better. The other three simply wouldn’t work with my embouchure. Not at all, really. The funny thing is that I know one of those would suit one of my students quite well, because he takes in so much more reed and likes to press harder on the things.
But that’s just it, yes? Our bodies … our lip structure, our embouchures … they all determine what we want to work with.
MKL reeds are not inexpensive. Oboe reeds are $35 a pop, and English horn reeds (I’ve not tried those, although I’d certainly love to since I play EH in symphony much of the time) are $42. Of course if you are, like me, a rotten reed maker, you will pay nearly anything if you find a reed that works for you.
Thanks, Laura, for sending the reeds my way, and may your business flourish!