The “Reed Geek” Universal Reed Tool

Back in December, I was lucky enough to get a Reed Geek “Universal” Reed Tool to try out.  Anyone that has been to my house for lessons has probably noticed the shoe boxes on my shelves in my studio.  These shoe boxes are filled with every reed I have ever tried and not liked in the past 13 years.  I have never had a lot of patience with reeds.  If I  try a brand new one and it is too hard I throw it in the box.  If it is too soft…….throw it in the box.  Too stuffy…….in the box.  As you can imagine, I have quite a bit of money invested in these useless reeds……….

You may ask “Steve, why are you saving them?”  Well, the way I figure it, I will be  getting old someday.  By that point reeds will probably cost 15-20 bucks a reed.  I will be retired and on a fixed income  so I won’t have a lot of spare cash to buy reeds when ever I need them.  I also envision myself having a lot of time on my hands.  So…….while I sit at the beach figuring out what to do with my golden years, I will have all the time in the world to work on my thousands of bad reeds……….

Because I have never really had the patience for reed work, I have never invested in any tools for that purpose up until now.  Besides a reed clipper and some sandpaper,  the Reed Geek is the first reed working tool I have bought and have used.   When I first got it in the mail, I had no idea what it would look like.  When I opened the package I was a bit unimpressed.  There was a little plastic container and inside was what looked like a small long rectangle of metal.  I thought “This is it?”………as I examined the rectangle of metal, I could see that it had some curious and interesting edges on it in different places.  I was a bit skeptical that this thing could do anything but I pushed past those feelings and watched the videos from the Reed Geek website to learn how to use the Reed Geek. (I have provided the videos below for you to check out)

The first thing I tried to do was to flatten the back of a reed.  If you have visited my website before, you know that I love to play and review mouthpieces.  I play hundreds of mouthpieces every year!  When you play a mouthpiece, the reed conforms to the shape of that mouthpieces table and rails.  That’s fine if all you do is play on the same mouthpiece all day, but when you try to switch to a different mouthpiece and use the same reed it can be problematic.  Many times the reed will play horribly on the new mouthpiece.  Many times, it also won’t seal  when trying the suction test on it.  All of the reeds in my shoe boxes have been tried with some mouthpiece I have owned in the past so many of them won’t seal on a new mouthpiece.  This is where flattening the back of the reed comes in handy.  If you can flatten the back of the reed you then can play it on a new mouthpiece and it should work great.

I watched the video and tried scraping the reed back myself.  My first try was unsuccessful and the reed still would not play or get suction.  I figured I had not done it enough so I took the reed off and tried again more vigorously.  This time when I tried the reed it played great!  It got a good seal and I ended up playing it for another week afterwards.  This was a reed that I was ready to throw in the trash because it would not play at all.  I was very excited about this.   I have tried this procedure on  5 other reeds that were warped since then and it worked every time to make the reed playable for me.

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The “Reed Geek” Universal Reed Tool

The next video below shows you how to balance the heart of the reed.  I think this procedure takes a little more art and experience.  I have tried it a number of times and it does indeed get the reed playing better but………so far the reeds I have worked on seem softer to me when I play them afterwards.  I have to find that balance of how much to take off I think.  I also think it would be easier to work on harder reeds as they would become softer and then hopefully be perfect.

Here’s some information on the Reed Geek from the Reed Geek website:

The Most Simple and Effective Tool of its Kind

The ReedGeek® “Universal” Reed Tool was designed to help all woodwind players (both students and professionals),  adjust single and double reeds to achieve better reed performance more simply and accurately than any other reed tool on the market today. It has quickly become an industry leader and is used by the world’s top woodwind professionals.

Although simplistic in appearance, the ReedGeek® “Universal” Tool’s machining is anything but… Utilizing state of the art technology ReedGeeks are made from the highest grade true U.S. steel blends and are heat-treated and machined to tolerances closer than any reed tool available.

Experience the benefits of a truly flat reed

The ReedGeek® “Universal” Reed Tool enhances reed performance by rapidly and accurately flattening reed tables. Other methods for flattening reed tables, are less effective, take longer and produce less consistent results. Within 10 minutes of training, players will notice a dramatic improvement in efficiency (ease of sound production), sonic quality and responsiveness in their reeds. Users of the tool will find more “good” reeds in a box and the reeds will perform longer and more consistently over their lifetime. In effect, the tool more than pays for itself soon after purchase!

More than flattening… A True “Universal” Tool

With its proprietary true edge-retention technology and superior U.S. steel blends the ReedGeek rivals even the most expensive reed knives sold today, with no sharpening required and no dangerous knife blade to slice delicate fingertips. On this miracle bar all edges are created equal and can be used by both single and double reed players as one would use traditional knives to adjust and balance reeds.

The tip of the tool features a gentle proprietary radius that can be used for precision scraping, including balancing the tip, adjusting the heart or other fine adjustments. The radius allows single-point contact for scraping very precise areas of the reed quickly. On each side of the scraper blade, there is a blade designed specifically to adjust or modify the rails of the reed. These blades quickly define the desired rail profile.


Getting the best from your mouthpiece & reed…

The two main reasons for poorly performing reeds are:

1. Reed warpage

2. Imbalances at the tip and side-rails (see instruction page)

Most commercial reeds will have or develop lateral warpage of the reed table either from the factory or when the reed comes in contact with moisture. In this defective state, the reed will not seal correctly along the critical area of the mouthpiece. This area extends along the mouthpiece’s side rails to just below where the mouthpiece window and table meet. When the Reed Geek is properly used in daily reed maintenance and reed preparation, the reed and mouthpiece will perform much more cohesively as a unit.  This unit will have the reed positioned snugly against the mouthpieces’ table, side and tip rails creating a temporary vacuum.It is this vacuum and subsequent release (pop) that maximizes the vibration and response of both the reed and mouthpiece, contributing to improved tone quality, articulation, and control.


The “Reed Geek” Universal Reed Tool

You can check out the videos below to get more information on the Reed Geek and how to use it.  I think it is a great tool that is small and efficient.  It can fit in your sax case easily and be there for you when you get those reeds in every box that refuse to work for you.  Check out the Reed Geek website for more information and to purchase one yourself.  Have fun working on all those reeds………….Steve

Reed Geek Introduction & Overview

Flattening the Back of a Reed Part 1

Flattening the Back of a Reed Part 2

Rail Adjustor Scrape Radius Tutorial

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. Steve I also have one of these, hands down, best investment out there for any reed player. the hundreds of dollars saved by having this little investment is sooo worth it!

  2. How can i get one of these?

  3. He sells them on ebay.

  4. Avatar Andrew Bowie says

    A must have. Saves me a fortune in reed costs. I adjust a lot, so I need a good tool for this. Where it also scores is after playing a lot on a reed, you give it a gentle scrape both on the back and the front to remove accumulated gunge. This can have a remarkable effect on reed response. Buy one. I have had mine quite a long time and even though the edges are no longer quite as sharp, they still do the job as well as before.

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