So your reed is bad...now what?
More often than not, your reed sounds bad because one side is a lot harder than the other.
About THE most fundamental method of determining where to start in working on your reeds is the tilt-test! And it means exactly what it says, you tilt your reed and you test it!
Short and Sweet:
1. Bring your clarinet up to your mouth as if to play it. Instead of pressing into the center of the reed with your bottom lip, tilt the mouthpiece to the left side so that your lip is pressing the top left corner of the reed into the mouthpiece. This will cut off the vibration of that side, allowing you to test the RIGHT side of the reed.
2. Play an open G this way and observe what you feel and hear.
3. Now, tilt the mouth piece to the right so that your lip is now pressing on the top right corner of the reed. 4. This time when you play, it will the the LEFT side of the reed that is vibrating freely.
That's all there is to it! Now you know if one side of the reed is playing a little better than the other, and you're one step closer to fixing the problem!