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Finding the right piece of cane to make a quality reed from has been the quest of reed makers for generations. We hope the following information may serve as a reference for selecting your own cane.
To select a good piece of cane, one should know a little bit about where it comes from. The cane that JDRP uses is grown in large fields in the south of France and the Mediterranean region of Spain. Once the cane has properly matured, the growers will harvest and stack it in a teepee fashion until it is fully dried. They then strip the bark, cut the tubes to lengths of two or three meters, and expose the harvested cane to intense sunlight. This process hardens the cane and enhances its color.
Of great importance to the growing process are weather conditions such as temperature and humidity. Subtle changes to these conditions can make good cane outstanding, or conversely, it can become useless. These factors are important to reed makers but much of this is out of their hands.
Density plays an important role in cane selection. Cane with a hard, outer surface tends to produce reeds that are higher in pitch, while softer cane will produce a lower pitch. Depending on the density you prefer, you may store soft cane in a ventilated container. Over time the cane will harden which might lead to a more desired result.
One aspect of cane that is frequently overlooked is the straightness of the tubes. If a piece is curved or warped lengthwise from end to end, it has a higher chance of coming off the gouging bed. Reeds made from twisted cane will almost always be difficult to gouge, and in the end, will produce a reed with blades that constantly slip; they literally twist apart. Select the straightest cane for your reeds and ensure the fibers flow straight down the cane. No two pieces will ever be the same, so it is important to consistently try different batches.