Saxophone & Clarinet Reeds

by wierd101, published

Saxophone & Clarinet Reeds by wierd101 Feb 4, 2013
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3D Printed Sax and Clarinet Reeds!


These are still to be tested, so if anyone gets a chance, post it in the comments. I've printed them successfully @0.08mm layers on my replicator, with PLA (ABS not yet attempted, though warping will likely occur). I also suggest increasing the number of shells to 10 or more, this will help hold the tip together, only 0.25mm thick.

Update 23/2: The MK1 with a bit of material removal is providing a very large range (A2-Eb6 I think) on the baritone. Will determine the ideal model and upload soon. I've also uploaded a short demonstration of the sound (more of a sharp edgy sound, just showing the range).

Update 6/4: I've uploaded a few new ones, along with an updated version of the Baritone. Included are the Soprano, Alto & Tenor reeds for saxophone, and normal and bass Clarinet reeds. As before, these haven't been tested properly yet, but i've increased the thickness to a standard 0.5mm so that you can sand them down a bit. Prints seem to work best with PLA, ABS will lift up too much and make a rough surface. PLA is also easier to sand down if needed. If you need higher resolution STL's, let me know.

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did some tweaking on the design for tenor with no sanding it out played the wooden reed so gj

did multiple tests with the clarinet reed. ideal print looks like 0.13mm thickness

Printed it with PLA, HIPS, SBS, ABS. Still test them, can't say nothing certain. For my c-melody tenor the almost optimal proportions are: X=0.9; Y=1; Z=0.75; 10mm shell. I printed it with 0.1mm layer height. All reeds are supposed to be sanded and cut.

Wow... just printed the clarinet reed like an hour ago, and with a bit of sanding, it plays ridiculously well. Don't get me wrong though, it definitely does not replace a typical wooden reed, because the sound is not as crisp and low notes are hard to hit. But for a plastic clarinet reed, this thing really shines. I was able to play nearly any song I could play normally on a wooden reed, as long as it was mostly high notes. Maybe with a little more sanding, the lower pitches will come out better. I printed it at .08 mm layer height, 10 shell, and 100% infill.

I just printed a clarinet reed for testing, 0.8 Z scale, PLA, 0.2 mm layer height, 20% fill density, and the results... WOW, this is amazing, I can play the whole range with a pretty decent sound quality

Printing now more tests (less layer height and more infill), if it improves this is gonna be insane

I made myself a bass clarinet reed and am currently 3D printing it. I also downloaded yours and plan on printing it too, so I can compare both of the creations. I hope that both of them work very well, but I will compare and contrast them both to hopefully come up with a more superior combination of both designs.

I tried printing the Alto Mk2 and The range was terrible, Do I need to just sand it down more? The tone I'm getting is terrible, it barely wants to speak, and when it does, it's an octave high. I'm using a Selmer mouthpiece on a Bundy saxophone.

As with all of these reeds, some sanding is required to get the most out of them. Assuming that you have printed straight to the bed (no raft), i recommend that you sand from the top down until you get a better sound. Being plastic, it will be a different sound to what you are used to (but fun to play with). Generally it will be a much harsher sound, but you can tune it to your liking.

I think it's very exciting stuff! But I play oboe - so I want to print an oboe reed (and cor anglais). The internal design is going to be tricky. Any ideas for creating a useful STL appreciated!

I have experimented with creating these types of reeds (mostly just the bassoon) and it is very hard to print on an FDM printer. The tip of the reed needs to be thinner and more flexible than can be made with ABS or PLA. If you have access to a different type of printer, and use nylon or similar flexible material, you might be able to achieve the right stiffness value.

I can develop a model for you if you wish, at the moment all i have is the flat pattern for a bassoon reed. Getting the length, tip width and hole diameter are the critical dimensions, the rest changes depending on the material you use. If you can send the details, i can help with the experiment :)

... I'll measure an oboe reed (and d'amore and cor anglais) and send this information to you. With new materials coming out all the time, I think soon the effort should be rewarded by working reeds that are not made of cane - which seems rather anachronistic these days!

Thank you! Yes please! I'd really appreciate your help. I've got a MakerBot 2 (- and a Form 2 is now also on order.) I think the latter might just do it. I'd love to know what software you used for double reeds design. I'll install it. You might like to email me directly on [email protected]
I hope to experiment with various designs and materials until the thing works!
You might like to see my home made automated harpsichord

what should the infill and temperature be set at for PLA material

I always use 100% infill for these, you might get some strange vibrations otherwise (it also makes it easier if you need to sand the surface back to tune it). I usually use upwards of 10 walls, making a smoother surface on the tip.

As for temperature, it does depend on printer and material. Usually 215 °C will suit PLA on most machines, but i am finding that i need to increase the temperature up to 250°C to prevent my printer from jamming (probably an issue with the extruder that i'll get around to fixing eventually). Your experience may vary...

...one more thing I`m gonna try. I´ll scale down the clarinet reed in z-axis only (with Cura). Wanna see, if it plays lighter...

Clarinet reed scaled down to 80% in z-axis. Now it swings. But not the full range.
I`ll try 75-85-90-95% to see, what works best for me.

I made a 75% z-height clarinet reed without any crisscross patterns ( Shell-size 10mm ) which sounds better than my 20€ professional fibreglass reed ( brand Legére ). It is a bit on the soft side, easy to be overblown. Will try to print more reeds with 76-79% height.
Next step is a reed scaled lenghtwise. ( shorter/longer )
This is a hole new world of experimental reed making :D

That's how i've been making them (as many outer layers and can fit - 10-20 depending). Usually i'll print them out and sand them down to get the right thickness. It also reveals any inconsistencies in the print, as well as giving a smoother surface for lips.

Playing wise, i haven't been able to achieve a consistent sound, but, on the baritone at least, my dad can get a much greater tonal range. Make sure to post any models you find work best!

The clarinet reed is for "boehm" clarinets or "german" system?

Instead of sanding the reed, could we print it in HIPS and use lemon acid as smoothing agent?

I haven't tried printing with HIPS, but it will give a different sound (lower density vs PLA, decreased youngs modulus). Limonene is used to dissolve HIPS, so i don't know how well it will work with a thin structure such as a reed. Using a paint brush you can probably gently smooth the surface nicely without overdoing it.

Limonene is non-toxic so it is a safe alternative to acetone - you'll still want to make sure the surface has solidified before using the reed though.

I´m used to play thin reeds like 1.5 to 2 thickness. How would you rate your Tenor reed ?
On my clarinet, I have a fibreglass reed for 2 years now and I´m pretty happy with it.

Hello. Nice experiments you did. The buzzing tone when using bronze filament is in a way good news for me. Because it shows that it keeps the acoustics of bronze, even though it is not pure bronze. I will try to reed more about Saxophone reeds because I know only about Harmonium reeds which is very different. In Harmonium reeds there are many procedures to avoid these buzzing sound. Most related to the shape of the reed.
Other thing I thought is that filaments with metals with less resonance shall lower the buzzing but maybe reduce the range as well. Copper should be a little less buzzing or maybe you could try stell. My guess it that trying few differences in shape or sanding might be better.

I have been wondering if the sound would improve if some PLA or ABS with metal is used. I know more about harmonium reeds, I dont know about Clarinet reeds. Anyway, the are some filaments that goes up to 85% of metal. I know there are currently filaments with brass, copper, bronze, steel, iron, bismuth and tungsten. Have anyone tried these in any 3d printed instrument? I am really very curious about that. Sorry if I am asking in the wrong place.

I know this websites sell filament with metal:


So i've tried out a bronze based reed on the baritone (see attached images), has a decent range but produces a buzzing tone. Good for experimental sound, but not quite right for regular use. It might be worth experimenting with sanding the reed further down to see what changes.

I also tried some wood based filament, but this produced a reed that was much too soft. Still worked, but didn't have a very good range.

So far PLA is the best for it. If anyone else gives it a try, let us know!

Now that you mention it, increasing the density of the material may help. I've actually got some Bronze filament, only problem is that i'm using a Replicator Mini atm, so i can't print reeds with flat surfaces very easily.
So far i've only compared PLA with ABS and found PLA to be superior due to its greater stiffness. So far i've found the Bronze filament to be better suited to sanding than plain plastic, and slightly stronger. This should allow for better reducing of the reed thickness once printed. I think i'll try experimenting with one this week, let you know how it goes.

Also, trumpet mouthpieces! PLA by itself doesn't work too well, but bronze/brass/copper might...

I'm just wondering, but can this be done for double-reeded insturments (bassoons, oboes, etc.)? If so it would be great to have on thingiverse, as nobody has done this yet.

I've tried a bit with printing a flat section and folding it over, doesn't work (heating to prevent fracture just warps the whole structure). Might be able to print vertically at <0.1mm layers and sand it down, haven't tried yet.

I've tried a bit with printing a flat section and folding it over, doesn't work (heating to prevent fracture just warps the whole structure). Might be able to print vertically at <0.1mm layers and sand it down, haven't tried yet.

I made a bass clarinet reed last night and will be testing it soon! (I used a solidoodle 4 with ABS)

nice, I will give it a shot and let you know how it goes.
I usually keep my plate very level; I use a dial indicator to keep it trued up and print on a glass build plate. My machine is a replicator 2

Well, I tried making a couple reeds for my Alto sax yesterday, results were less than stellar.
Printed anywhere from 6 to 8 shells. at 100% infill, layer heights ranging from .08 to .05
straight off the machine, none of them made a sound, with some sanding, they started to work, but the instrument was horribly out of tune, only about half the notes would sound correct, while others would result in squeaks or be transposed way too high.
I reworked the .STL, making the thickness and taper closer to that of a natural 2 1/2 reed, and it produced better results (sounded correct on the mouthpiece when installed on the mouthpiece, but as soon as the mouthpiece was set on the instrument, honking and out of tune. even with further sanding and tuning, I couldn't get any of them to sound right; I tried just sanding the bottom of the reed, changing the top profile, nothing worked.
I may try again today, I'll thoroughly map a natural reed's profile with a set of calipers, and try again to match the dimensions to what you've made, and try to get it to work.
They look right, but don't sound right. This is a bummer, since polymer reeds do exist, but are very expensive. If I could 3D print them, it would be very worthwhile.
I know some people have had success with the clarinet reeds,maybe I will look into how that was designed for comparison.

Thanks for letting me know how you're going with them :)
To date, i've only had multiple test runs on the baritone reeds, hence the 4 versions of it. Within a batch of ten, there can still be minor variations if the build platform isn't level, or bubbles form, so expect to trial a few if you think you are getting close.
The models i have uploaded are pretty close to No. 2 reeds in shape, though there is a fair chance that i got them wrong, not having tested afterwards.
You will probably need to reduce the thickness of the reed towards the base to get them working. To save on time, I am about to upload a new version of the alto reed for you to try out. I can probably re-model the remaining reeds as well, based on what i've learned with the baritone reed. It only takes a few minutes to modify them (when the model works the way it should - creo can either take a couple of minutes or hours, rarely anything in between), so i will give the rest a shot this weekend.

Just found this, you are a lifesaver!
Will give it a shot on my Alto sax and let you know how it works!

Hi, can you please make a stl of the Bb clarinet reed? Currently there is only a stp file.

Fret not, the bass clarinet reed is there, labelled bass_clarinet_mark_1.stl. I hope this is the one you are after. Also, as i have mentioned previously, you may have to sand it down a little. Most of the models are based on the original no. 2 reeds (or as near to them as i could get), so if you would like me to alter the model for improvements, or even if you have a reed that i have not yet uploaded, take some measurements and send them to me.

Hi! I printed out the Alto Sax reed. It didn't work on my jazz mouthpiece but I will try it out on my classical. I'll also need to sand it down a little! Thanks!

I printed the clarinett reed.

The sound results are quite good.
My daughter like playing with it .
I am trying to improve the sound sanding it.
I shall send you soon the results

What settings did you use? I plan to print one for my saxophone.

Try using 100% infill, finest layers you can print with. PLA seems to work better for me for 0.07mm layers. I haven't had a chance to test and update the reeds yet, so you'll still have to sand them down a little to get better tuning.

I only have PLA so I need to figure out how to make them work with it. Thanks for the reply anyway!

I used about 10 layer wall thickness just to keep the transition profile smoother. You should experiment with different densities to see if you can alter it to your liking.

Could you upload a model with them laying flat? thanks.

Done. Let me know how they work out :)

Hi wierd, i printed a tenor reed, but there's a lot of sanding needed before getting ny sound. In what software do you make these models? i would like to help developing a printable reed. can you send a stp file of the reed you made?

I've uploaded step files of each reed. I work in Creo, so I can get get a lot of control over the curves, but because i'm sending the reeds to my Dad to be tested, it might take him a couple of months to get around to trying it out. He has noted a few issues with this batch, but i'm not sure if it's a model issue or to do with my printing. I also made these thicker so that they can be sanded down. I should also point out that PLA does not respond well to being placed in hot water. It goes a bit wrinkly. Hope you get some good results :)