How to Use Additional Laker Precision Products for Cane Processing

Posted by Sarah Beck on

By Sarah Beck, RDG Gouging Machine Specialist

Today I'd like to tell you about a couple of products from Laker Precision that I use for gouging. They are the splitter, guillotine and pre-gouger. They are all very easy to use. Let’s start with the splitter.

The splitter has a ball handle, a long rod with blades attached, and a brass cover to protect the blades.


I have taken the brass part off of mine. I felt that it got in the way a little bit. 

To use it, you line it up inside the piece of tube cane, and then use downward force to split the cane. You need to move your bottom hand out of the way when you do this. I think that still applies even if the little brass part is still on there. 

Next up is the guillotine. The guillotine has a flat base, a handle and a blade. I prefer to use this if I can. Even though the gouging machines have a guillotine attached, this is much easier to use because there is more room for your left hand to push down the lever. Once you have the area you want to cut selected, simply push down using the handle. Our oboe and bassoon guillotines are available in adjustable cutting lengths to accommodate different gouging machine bed lengths.


Lastly we have the pre-gouger. It also has a basic, quick function. It is available with many different bed sizes, which you would want to match to the bed size of your machine. (The standard size matches the standard size of each instrument’s machine.) It has a small blade at the end that cuts off the top of the guillotined piece. This blade can be removed and sharpened on a stone. 

I usually pre-gouge with wet cane. I suppose you could use dry, but to me it sounds and feels like nails on a chalkboard, so I don’t use dry cane. :) The other problem that can occur when pre-gouging dry is that the ends of the cane can get stuck under the blade and be difficult to pull out. I have sliced my finger tugging on dry pieces trying to get them out. This problem occurs more frequently with thick walled cane. 

Those are the three basic accessories made by Laker Precision that we sell to use in conjunction with the Laker “USA” gouging machines. They are available for oboe, oboe d’amore, English horn, and bassoon. You can find them by searching under gouging machines and accessories here, or by clicking on the photo below.


Read more →

A Brief Guide to Shipping Your Instrument

Posted by Justin Paguio on

If you have questions about how to ship your instrument to our store, have no fear!  We have put together this brief guide for best shipping practices for most oboes, clarinets, and bassoons.  

  • Send your instrument in its case. 
  • Make sure that your instrument is secured when it is in its case.  If you hear movement when gentle force is applied to it, add material to areas of the case that help keep your instrument securely held in place. 
  • Secure loose items, such as cork grease, screwdrivers, humidifiers, tuners, etc, if you will be including these items in your case.

  • Pack your instrument case in a corrugated cardboard box. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 1 to 2 inches of packing material between your case and the box on all sides. Most boxes with a burst test rate of 200 pounds is sufficient. Just be sure not to use a thin or flimsy box. It will be tested during transit!
  • Use packing material to fill the void between your case and the box.  Packing peanuts, air cushion “pockets”, bubble wrap, densely crumpled paper, and items similar to these are good choices.  Dense foam that is custom fitted to your case and the box can be considered as it is a very effective and efficient packing method (and won’t require additional packing material).
  • Use enough packing material to completely fill the box and eliminate as much movement of your case as possible when the box is closed.
  • Include a note!  It helps us forward the instrument to the proper person for repair or for processing. Be sure to include your name, phone number, email address, and any notes for the recipient.  
  • Seal the box with a quality packing tape.  We don’t recommend using Scotch tape, even if you plan to use the whole roll!
  • Use FedEx or UPS services to ship your package. Be sure to use an appropriate service speed and plan to have the instrument arrive in the afternoon.  Most “morning” or “AM” deliveries are delayed because they are scheduled for delivery before we open, so we don’t recommend using this option.
  • Consider using shipping insurance through FedEx or UPS if transit is not covered by your current insurance policy.  Some customers like to declare a value that matches their insurance deductible, some like to declare anywhere from 25% to 100% of the value of their instrument. Your total shipping cost will increase as your declared value increases.
  • Select the “signature required” option. It provides proof that your package was delivered to RDG when one of us signs for it.
  • Address the package to our store at:

          RDG Woodwinds
          Attn: _________
          535 E Walnut St, Unit 101
          Pasadena, CA 91101
          (888) 734-7333

  • If you have a repair appointment, please include the name of the repair technician that will be working on your instrument. For consignments, please include "Consignment" on the shipping label.
  • Request tracking information by email to keep an eye on your shipment.
  • When your repair appointment is completed, we will give you a call to arrange your return shipment via FedEx and take your payment information. You’ll just need to let us know how soon you’d like to have your instrument delivered and to what address.  That’s it!
If you have any questions about shipping your instrument, please don't hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.
Read more →

Cleaning A Tenon Cork

Posted by Sarah Beck on

By Sarah Beck, RDG Gouging Machine Specialist

It’s happened to all of us. You go to take your instrument apart. It’s grippy and tight. You twist and feel something give way… Oh no! The tenon cork has come off! There’s not a lot you can do to fix it besides having it professionally repaired. You could wrap dental floss around it, hoping it will stay in place just long enough to finish your gig. But really, it’s a major stressor that nobody wants to deal with. Luckily, there’s a super easy way to help prevent this scenario.

Clean your tenon joints! Cork grease can build up over time and can actually cause the tenons to get gummy and feel tight. Eventually, there can be enough friction to tear the cork.

What I normally do is take a paper towel and put a little bit of rubbing alcohol on it. Then, I then clean both parts of the tenon joint, cork and metal. You want to avoid getting the rubbing alcohol on any wooden parts of the instrument. 

Once you have cleaned off the old cork grease, you should be able to see the cork looking new again. 

After it’s been cleaned off, put a fresh coat of cork grease on to help it move smoothly. 

*** I know paper towels and rubbing alcohol are both in short supply now, so use your best judgement as to when to attempt this. I would say that if you feel you need to, do so sparingly. As always, if you have a repair emergency, please contact a technician to set up a time for repair.

Read more →

RDG Signature Bonade Ligatures

Posted by Justin Paguio on

What are Bonade Ligatures?

Bonade ligatures are among the most widely used ligatures for both professional and amateur clarinetists.  These ligatures are available in both a "regular" style (screws on the same side as the reed) and an "inverted" style (screws on the opposite side from the reed).  Generally, the regular (non-inverted) style has a brighter, clearer, more responsive sound while the inverted tends to be more covered, with a more stable core. These two styles allow players a range of flexibility and sound options at an amazing price point.

What are our options and why?

The purpose of the plating on Bonade ligatures is first and foremost to protect the base brass metal from oxidizing, and also to maintain a nice aesthetic finish. However, this plating has an added effect of slightly changing the sound. Some players are looking for a sound that is difficult to produce with silver or nickel/chrome plating as offered by the manufacturer.  Thus, we set out to hunt for the perfect plating material.

After trying a number of options, we are proud to offer three different platings: Rose Gold, 24K Gold, and “Black” Platinum (PlatinumNoir). There seems to be a general trend in sound amongst all the ligatures of a similar plating. The Rose Gold plating is typically the clearest and brightest in sound. The 24K Gold is the warmest and most covered. The PlatinumNoir is a great balance of both with the most depth of sound.

Rose Gold (Inverted)

24K Gold (Inverted)

PlatinumNoir (Inverted)


Our Selection Process

Here at RDG, there is a legacy of providing the highest quality products and services to many of the great performers and teachers since our founding in 1949.  For this reason, we take pride in our process for providing the best Bonade ligatures in the market today. When we receive a batch of ligatures from the manufacturer, we first individually shape them to fit the mouthpiece better.  Once this is done, each ligature is test played and ligatures that show great promise are set aside for plating. We find that only through play testing the ligatures can we find the best ones. Sometimes, this may mean a ligature doesn’t fit the “textbook” definition of what a good ligature should look like, such as if the side body of the ligature touches the reed.  We select the ligatures for their sound characteristics, and we have found that often these physical variations are not consequential. The ligatures chosen for premium plating are then hand finished in the interior so that they no longer slip off the mouthpiece during play or when the mouthpiece is adjusted on the instrument. After hours of selection and adjustments they are finally ready to be plated.


Our Plating Process

In order for our ligatures to be plated successfully, each ligature is first cleaned thoroughly; if there is any grease present the plating process will not work. The electroplating process can then begin.The RDG Signature Ligatures are plated using a process called electroplating, where a base metal is coated with another metal via electrolysis in order to better its corrosion resistance. Basically, an acidic liquid solution is used to dissolve and suspend a particular protective metal in a solution.  An anode and cathode are then immersed into this solution creating a magnetic current that deposits the suspended particulate onto the opposite charged base material part. The metallic particles eventually coat the ligature, making a beautiful finish.



As you can see, we invest a lot of time into making our RDG Signature Bonade Ligatures a truly great product, taking care to attend to every detail.  These ligatures have been very well received since their introduction in the spring of 2019. We invite you to try them today!

Read more →

How To Operate A Shaping Machine

Posted by Sarah Beck on

By Sarah Beck, RDG Gouging Machine Specialist

A shaping machine is a great tool to have at your disposal. Used properly, it can produce rapid, consistent results for your reed making. RDG offers the Reeds 'n Stuff Shaping Machine for oboists. There are many different varieties of shaping forms to choose from. Reeds 'n Stuff produces forms for oboe, oboe d’amore, English horn, bass oboe, baroque oboe and Viennese oboe.

The operation of the machine is very easy. You soak the cane and shape it. That’s it! 

To use this machine you will need: 

  1. C-clamp

  2. Shaping form

  3. Gouged cane

  4. Knife

  5. Small bristle brush

  6. Needle oiler

Start by using a c-clamp to clamp the machine down to your work surface. This will hold the machine in place while you use it.

Next, select your form and install it on the machine. 

Take a piece of gouged cane, which has soaked enough so that it will drop to the bottom of the container you have it in. Put the cane on top of the form. Center it front to back and side to side. 

Cane correctly aligned

Cane not centered

When you have it centered, put the top of the machine down on the form and cane. (You may need to hold the cane with one hand, and put the top down with the other.)

Once the top of the form is down and the cane is in place, tighten the top. My machine is very old, and was possibly not made by Reeds 'n Stuff. It functions differently than the design they currently have. For theirs, you would need to pull the top handle up to secure the cane in place. 

When everything is secure, start by making a swipe from the middle towards you. Then, take another swipe in the opposite direction. Lastly, go back and forth a few times, cutting the cane progressively closer to the form.

When you do this, try not to press too hard on the cane or the form. If you press too hard to start, you can crack the edges of the cane and not get a clean cut. If you press too hard at the end, you can damage the blades. 

The next step is to loosen the top, and remove the cane. You will see that if you have aligned it correctly, the middle of the cane will have a score mark.

I like to fold the cane at this point by putting the score mark over the edge of a knife and folding it. 

Here's a video of the entire process:

When you’ve finished using the machine, it’s a good idea to brush it off and oil the moving parts. Do remove the form from the machine. If you keep it on, it can get stuck and not want to come off. (Speaking from experience, unfortunately…)

Be sure to look at your work as you’re going along. Lining up the cane properly is the biggest challenge to using this machine, and it’s easy to make mistakes. You will also need to check your blades every once in a while, and make sure they’re sharp. If they’re not, they can be easily re-sharpened on a sharpening stone. 

That’s it! Now you can enjoy the ease and swiftness of shaping!

Read more →