Making Reeds... Going Commercial?
I started making bassoon reeds in high school and by senior year I was self sufficient, I only played on my own reeds. I only mention this because I was fortunate enough to have many fine reed makers as teachers, who put an emphasis on reeds. In Los Angeles it is common to start reed making in high school but I am finding that in the San Francisco area, students start in college.
I bumped around to different bassoon teachers throughout high school, and I felt like I had a fairly rounded education. Solo works, etudes, excerpts, reeds, sight reading, scale studies and here in SF the emphasis is on solo literature and excerpts. This is great to have students who win auditions and spots in honor bands and orchestras. Outside of prepared music students need to be good players and able to play things on the spot. Able to adjust reeds and sight read on the spot! So even though reed making equipment is expensive, I suggest starting the reed making journey as early as you can!
After all of this, people get serious about reeds in college. Some people make 10 reeds a week and get 1 good one out of luck. Some people make 1 reed a week and get a good reed every time. We can only play on one reed at a time, so it's important to focus on quality instead of quantity. By the time you start picking up students at the end of college you will be making reeds much faster. And at a certain point you can sell reeds to other players who don't make reeds as well.
This is the point that making commercially available reeds comes into play. Double reed supply store can sell reeds on your behalf but charge a certain amount (20-30%) for each reed. The reed maker is using the store for it's popularity and so gets less than what they would normally ask for each reed. Before making reeds on a commercial basis it is important to be able to make enough high quaity reeds and to have those reed tested and tried by other players of different levels. So that you can get critisism and make changes.
Be able to consisnatnly make reeds everyday
Make at least 20 reeds a week to start
Give your reeds to other players to ty out