Okay, folks, hang onto your hats: I have stumbled onto what appears to be some truly weird news about things going on at Rico Reeds.
I use Google Alerts to keep track of lots of woodwind-related topics on the web. Most days they don’t turn up anything especially interesting, but this morning I awoke to an alert of a new patent, just filed by Rico. Check it out here. [UPDATE: The PDF appears to have been removed from Google Patents. Rico must have connections!] [UPDATE #2: I managed to retrieve a partial copy of it from my web browser cache. Here it is.] It appears to describe double-ended clarinet and saxophone reeds. Yes, you read that correctly.
I assumed at first that the filing of this patent must be some kind of odd business practice required by Rico’s legal department. Maybe Rico held a brainstorming session on new products, and patents got filed on every idea, no matter how ridiculous, just in case.
But, out of curiosity, I Googled some of the other patents referenced in the PDF. And one of the patents listed as related to “specialized adaptations to existing machinery” used in reed manufacture turned up something surprising. Check out the search results, for the patent number in the ricoreeds.com domain. [UPDATE: The single web document that previously showed up in this search appears to have been removed or otherwise secured. The document appears to be an archived email message, intended for internal use within Rico (located at the subdomain “intranet.ricoreeds.com”, now inaccessible). I have retrieved the document from my web browser cache. The formatting is lost, but it is still legible. Read it here. I have removed the names of Rico employees.] Here is a summary, based on my best guesses from the document:
- “Duality” appears to be either a brand name or an internal code name for the double-tipped reeds.
- Conversions of some existing machines to produce double-tipped reeds seem to be in process already.
- “Duality” is due to launch (as in a new product release?) in “late 2012.”
- The email refers to 15 “units” in all, with 12 being converted. I don’t know if this represents all of Rico’s reedmaking machines; if so, it seems they are converting 80% of their production capacity to Duality, with 20% to continue producing “legacy” products. If this is case, Rico is betting big on the Duality reeds.
I’m not sure what to make of all this. Let me know what you think in the comments.
[BIG UPDATE: Rico has responded to my blog post with a “press release” on their Facebook page. Apparently somebody is working over the weekend. Check it out here!!]