History of making reeds for wind instruments by “FedotovReeds”

An interest in reed production had been instilled deep within me from an early age, by my grandfather, Prokhor Anisimovich Fedotov, a graduate of the class under the famous professor S.V. Rozanov. For many years he led the clarinet class and headed the department of wind and percussion instruments at the Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) Conservatory. Like many of the 20th century clarinetists, he had been making his own reeds himself, owning many secrets of the trade. Making reeds for me, as well as his other students, my first clarinet teacher passed on to us the most important knowledge and skills in the field of reed production.

 

At the turn of the 20th century, reeds in Russia, which had previously been made directly by musicians and Russian reedmakers, began to be pushed out by mass-production reed factories of various companies in Europe and America.

 

In 2002 my brother, Alexei Fedotov, visited Austria for the first time and found that the clarinetists, despite the presence of a big variety in reeds on the market, were making their own reeds. To do this, they used a simple electric desktop machine, which was able to recreate an approximate copy from any reed. It was at that point I had the gained the knowledge as well as the idea to start producing clarinet reeds. In addition to a musical education, I have received technical experience through my studies in aircraft modeling at the Polytechnic Institute, which gave me the wherewithal to create and develop my own equipment for making reeds. In order to present an alternative to the mass production of reeds, it was imperative that the manufacturing of my reeds was made with the highest level of accuracy, comparable only to the accuracy in the manufacture of mouthpieces, where deviations of only a few thousandths of a millimeter are permitted. This was achieved as a result of several years of hard work designing and improving our machines and devices.

 

Through the experiences of the most highly acclaimed Russian clarinetists, who regularly share their thoughts and suggestions about our reeds, as well as the knowledge of Alexei, who graduated from the Nizhny Novgorod Conservatory and completed postgraduate studies in Austria, where in addition to performing and teaching, he also studied the art of making reeds, I was able to find several optimal reed profiles for the clarinet and to select the most suitable and high-quality reeds for them.