No ads if you sign up and login
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The plastic reed debate.

Discussion in 'Saxophones & Accessories' started by Selmerfan, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. Selmerfan

    Selmerfan New Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Aberdeen
    Hi everyone.

    I thought it might be interesting to gather together everyones thoughts on plastic reeds.

    I myself have not really tried enough of them to really accurately pass judgement, although i have heard that some of them can be very good.

    A worry i have is that the have a harsh sound lacking warmth, but i recently found out that Artie Shaw's stardust solo, (in my opinion one of the best solos of all time) was played with a plastic reed and it certainly does not lack quality!

    I would be interested in everyones thoughts.

    Chris
  2. singlereed

    singlereed Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Oxted, Surrey.
    I have used Hahn and Legere reeds on bari and found them very consistent. The Hahn ones are quite soft for a given grade and the Legere ones hard. I have also tried Hahn on alto and tenor and used to use the tenor one for a buzzy sound on an open mouthpiece with high baffle for funk work. They are also really good for learning altissimo register! One downside I find is that my lower lip tends to get a bit sore when using these, I think it's because the edge of the reed is a bit sharper than a cane one. For big band work on the bari, I have used both with a lot of success yet I always feel a bit happier when I finally go back to a good cane reed.
  3. VirusKiller

    VirusKiller Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Milton Keynes (ish)
    For me, a beginner-intermediate player, it's all about consistency. Using a Legere Signature reed removes a big variable completely from my playing and that is very valuable to me, as is being able to pick up my sax and just play.
  4. MartinL

    MartinL Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Cannock, United Kingdom.
    I agree with both. I love them, and they are consistent, I bought a Hahn yesterday and find it compares well to my Vandoren Java for strength ( 3 = 3) but i find the Legere hard, I use a 2.

    but I mix my usage Legere and Java, and now Hahn too.
  5. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    I agree with VK, for the same reason; being a novice player and looking to eliminate one of the numerous variables that playing the sax proffers I use LS 2's on both my alto and tenor with good results, although they do seem to play harder than graded.

    I am going to give the Rico plasticovers a go too just get another take on plastic reeds, to see how they compare to the LS.

    Going to wait for the arrival of my new Runyon 22 MPCs for both saxes and then try all the different combinations, and then stick to one!

    My two pennies worth.....

    Cheers,
  6. TomMapfumo

    TomMapfumo Well-Known Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    5,296
    Likes Received:
    1,062
    Location:
    Skabertawe, South Wales
    I've only tried Bari* synthetics which played fine but had a sound which was rather unengaging, so have stuck with ordinary reeds which have an excellent sound - generally softer, "Jazz" labelled reeds made by Francois Louis, Marca, Rico, and Alexander DC's. Worst experience was trying some Gonzalez reeds, which were like the proverbial plank. Used same reeds for about 4 years.

    Kind regards
    Tom
  7. compound

    compound Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Manchester.
    I've recently started using Hahns no3 for tenor, prior to that 2.5 Java greens. I find them much more responsive and consistent. On my metal Berg's louder and more edgy, on my jumbo LOUD, and on my Sharkbite more buzzy and airy good for subtones, i wont be going back to cane.
    Rob.
  8. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    As I mentioned earlier in this thread I am trying to eliminate one variable in the complex variability of playing a sax, namely the reed which has of course an intimate relationship with the MPC.

    Different folks like different synthetic reeds, the world would be a dull place if this was not the case. For my own peace of mind I have decided to do a synthetic reed test, when my new Runyon 22 MPCs arrive for my alto and tenor; tenor shortly and alto towards the end of this month.

    The R 22 I have gone for is the 6 alto (77) and 10 tenor (103), which are quite a lot wider than my current Yammie 4C on both. I have a Legere Signature 2 for both saxes now, but will be getting hold of:

    Hahn 2
    Rico Plastic 2
    Fibracell MS

    So the test will include all the above plus the LS 2s.

    I have omitted both the Bari and Fiberreed (Harry Hartmann - expensive), anyone have a good experience with either of them and think they should be included in this test?

    Quite critical is the grade and I would be grateful for any comments on my selection I have noted above, given I am a new player (5 mths in) with new MPCs with larger tip openings.

    I will of course test the LS 2s on the new Runyon 22s to see how the MPCs compare with the Y 4Cs before I embark on the wider trial; and will spend a while getting used to blowing the new MPCs.

    Once I have completed this test, and selected the optimum combination for my short and medium term needs, I will keep to that combination for the rest of this year at least.

    The primary objective for this exercise for me is to try and identify my optimum combination, which going forward will remain a consistent part of my setup during this early part of my sax education enabling me to focus more on playing, air support and getting more acquainted with my mouth, tongue and throat and their interaction.

    The ligature seems to be the only other variable in this equation, but many posts I have read both here and on SOTW would suggest that this component does not inherently have the same degree of variability of either the reed or MPC, so I will use the ones supplied with the Runyons or a standard 2 screw metal one on both MPCs.

    Any other thoughts, apart from why waste your time and money?

    Cheers,
  9. dooce

    dooce Senior Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,187
    Likes Received:
    236
    Location:
    Daventry
    The Hahn 2 will probably play more like a 1.5 - I would go for a 2.5.

    When I can get over the cultural shock of paying 20+ quid for an inert bit of plastic, I may try the Legere reed that gets such good press on here, but until then, my experience is with Fibracell and Hahn. The Fibracell is as exciting as playing with a bit of MDF, the Hahns - on tenor, it's great for gigs as it's loud, raucous and unsubtle, but I can't bear to use it in any other environment. On the sop, it's just too crude. So I'll be sticking to Javas for now. Good luck with your experiment.
  10. compound

    compound Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Manchester.
    I agree with Dooce the Hahn's are a bit soft , i would say a 2.5 should be fine. Best of luck.
    Rob.
  11. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    Thanks for that Bill, I will go for a 2.5 Hahn as suggested.

    Cheers Rob, I will report back with any interesting insights once I have done the work.
  12. saxnik

    saxnik Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    94
    Location:
    Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
    Hey Ken,

    Good to know you're enjoying playing tenor and still getting into experimenting with your saxes!
    One word of caution, make sure you record yourself to listen back later, and correlate this with your experience playing at the time. First impressions are not always the best longer-term, and it's the sound you're after really...!

    The Hahns offer a different solution than a cane reed, while a Legere Signature is a mimic of the 'real thing' that lasts longer but costs a lot more. In fairness if you spend a bit more on cane reeds you'll find they're more consistent than the cheap ones, indeed that's why they cost more.

    Mostly though you have to train your embouchure to work with whatever it's presented with and get the best out of it, which it seems you're doing with this process.

    Nick
  13. jazzdoh

    jazzdoh Senior Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    243
    Location:
    West Midlands
    I moved to synthetics on all my saxes about 7/8 years ago,i got tired of opening a box of 10 cane reeds and only finding 3 or 4 reeds that would play and then 3 reeds that you could alter to play and then 3 reeds you had to throw away.
    I have tried all the brands except fibereeds[just can`t get my head round a £25 reed]
    I now play fibracell and legere signature on alto and tenor,fibracell on soprano and legere on nino.
    I have tried hahn on alto although i find them too bright.
    fibracell can be a bit buzzy from new but once you have played them in they lose some of the buzziness.
    Synthetics are not for everybody but if you can find one that works for you then they are worth every penny.

    Brian
  14. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    Hi Nick,

    Just started on the tenor trail, early days but my new Runyon 22 MPC arrived today so hoping that will improve on the 4C - we'll see....

    Thanks for your comments, wise words and all noted. I am hoping that through this process I can spend more time on thinking about my embouchure and its development, which to me now embraces not only the mouth but tongue, throat, vocal chords and all the rest of the architecture we humans employ to generate identifiable sounds.

    After much reading it seems the relationship that this architecture has with the MPC and reed combination dictates your sound, virtually irrespective of what tube you then attach from that point on - er within reason of course!

    I am trying to adopt the approach used by Joe Allard in the shaping of your embouchure, after some interesting exchanges with Phil Barone the MPC and sax guy from New York. He was most persuasive and instructive about how to develop a loose and relaxed embouchure alla JA - but I digress!

    By the way a happy new year to you, and I am sure we will get together via the cloud in the not too distant future.

    Cheers,
  15. Silver Smurfer

    Silver Smurfer Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Bedford, UK
    Hi Chris,
    I've been playing for just over 3 years now and I suspect like many I am constantly looking for some combination of gear that will make me play better. In the early months i tried fibracells (S and MS) on my yani alto, like you, because I wanted to eliminate some of the many variables. My teacher's guffaw put me off but my search for the ultimate reed and mouthpiece has continued. Now here's the thing - reeds that I have tried and rejected as too difficult, too edgy, too buzzy etc. have been found to be GREAT just 6 months later, and a recent holiday in Greece sent my No 3 Javas back to 2.5s. So, it's the variation in the embrouchure that is forever changing and I'm afraid that is more difficult to control.
    Regards
    Silver
  16. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    Not sure if that was meant for me SS but I am a Ken, no worries if it was!

    On the point you make, yes the more I read and learn about playing this instrument the more it comes down to your personal speaking architecture and its use, with some help from your kit.

    There seems to be two schools of thought with regard to playing methodology, the Teal camp and the Allard camp; after much reading and reflection I like the approach of Joe Allard and his teachings so I am now trying to adopt his methods and see where that takes me.

    I must admit that considering JA was such an influential teacher there's not much comment about his methods in the cafe (not that I could find anyway), but much more about him and the Juliard school on SOTW.

    Very interesting debate anyway, which I am enjoying researching; so have yet to start my testing regime, but I will soon!

    Cheers,
  17. AndyG

    AndyG Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    83
    Location:
    Derby
    I find cane reeds often irritate my bottom lip so changed initially to a Legere (not signature) 2.25 on my Tone edge 6 which was too hard. Fortunately for a small postage charge, Legere changed it for me through Bill Lewington (a really handy service that Legere offer if you order 1 thats too hard or soft) and I went to a 1.75 which was ok.
    However, I tried a cane reed again and much prefered the tone but got the lip irritation again, so purchased a Hahn 2 about 4 weeks ago. I'm really impressed and don't expect that I will be using anything else. The Legere is handy to have in the case should I need it.
  18. GsySaxMan

    GsySaxMan Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Guernsey
    Yes I have read good reports about the Hahns, which seems to play a bit softer than graded according to the folks on here.

    I am looking forward to getting hold of an alto and tenor and giving them a blow.

    Cheers,
  19. visionari1

    visionari1 Senior Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    205
    Location:
    Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
    I've been using nothing but Hahns on Alto for over 10 years and recently on Sop, they seen great to me.

    Will be interesting to follow your test.

    Ciao
  20. Lloyd

    Lloyd Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire
    I've been using a Legere Signature 2.25 on my tenor with a size 7 opening on my mouthpiece for over six months now. This was following a review from Pete where it was impossible (for me, anyway) to tell this from a cane reed. I love the tone and it gives a good buzzy sound on the bottom register. More importantly it can be played without soaking first. I had a cane reed spoil one of my gigs as I didn't realise it was split until I started playing. Most embarassing. Haven't looked back since.
  21. Nick Wyver

    Nick Wyver noisy

    Offline
    Messages:
    2,492
    Likes Received:
    857
    Location:
    Minster On Sea
    :))):))):)))

    After nearly 40 years of doing this I can confidently say, "It doesn't exist".
  22. saxismyaxe

    saxismyaxe Honored SOTW Ambassador

    Offline
    Messages:
    543
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Native of the Lone Star state.
    Here is my testimonial:

    I'll preface by stating that I'm about as ardent in my love for real cane reeds as one can get. They can be fussy to get into optimal playing order, and the lifespan isn't always what one wants, but the tone and response is incomparable.

    However, I have not neglected the journey towards finding a suitable, if not ideal, synthetic reed over the years either. All of them have been either too buzzy, lackluster in tone, unresponsive in the lower register, unplayable at pianissimo level.......... well most are familiar with their general shortcomings.

    That is, until I tried the new Fibracell Premiers. Without this sounding like a paid endorsement, I find these to be really impressive, and not just as synthetics go. I can get the same response, a full rich tone, reliable and familiar strength ratings, and all with less fuss and prep than cane reeds. They sound a wee bit brighter, but I generally play with a darker tone and setup. The slight, added brightness can often be a good balance. This also varies depending on what horn and setup I'm using.

    I'm not giving up my cane reeds. But if nothing else, it is nice to have the Fibracells in my case ready to go. I have converted to these completely on baritone.

    I'd have to rate the standard, clear BARI reeds as the overall worst synthetic reed for my taste and purposes. Unfortunately it plays about as sterile, unresponsive, and quacky as it looks like it would.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2011
  23. Mack

    Mack Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Exeter
    Just bought my second three pack of Rico Royals with not one playable reed. Now playing my Legere Signature synthetic (tenor) and will not go back. Great dependable sound, and £20 (or a bit less at Reeds Direct) is well worth it when you consider how may cane reeds end up in the bin. Oddly I tried a Legere Studio alto reed and I didn't like it - can anyone recommend the best alto synthetic?
  24. jazzdoh

    jazzdoh Senior Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    243
    Location:
    West Midlands
    I use fibracell premiers maily on alto and sometimes Legere Signature.
  25. thehunt

    thehunt Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Studham Bedfordshire
    Very interesting stuff, and it just shows what a discerning bunch we are. I play my Jody jazz HR7 with a legere synthetic 3 or when i want a warmer sound with ( to my ears ) more depth i always go back to my vandoren's 3. The good thing about the legere is it gives my chops a good workout.
    So difficult to recommend one or the other as we are all so different and in what sound we wish to achieve.
    Phil
  26. Ville K.

    Ville K. Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Finland
    Forestone reeds

    I did once try a synthetig Légère reed but after the short experimenting returned back to using proper cane reeds again. However, my curiosity has been raised after a long while in the (semi)synthetic alternatives as I was shopping for new cane reeds the other week and the seller there introduced some new semi-synthetic reeds that had just come in for sale. They're called Forestone and come from Japan. As they costed approx. 25 € per reed I decided not to buy them yet as I had no idea what strength would be equivalent to RJS #2M that I'm currently using. Instead I decided to have a go on the new Rico Reserves that I had heard good things about. Anyone tried the Forestone? If yes, what were your impressions about them? I'm not yet convinced that synthetic reeds would ever take the place of cane ones for me but this new kind of reed that's made of "a mixture of polypropylene resin and cellulose wood fibre" sure sounds interesting enough to try out sometime.

    Have a look:
    http://www.forestone-japan.com/current/eg/products.html

    Ville
  27. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Chief of Stuff Cafe Moderator

    Offline
    Messages:
    5,151
    Likes Received:
    1,201
    Location:
    Sunny Southampton
    Not surprising, as it's a Studio. The Signature (as you use on tenor) is the way to go IMO.
  28. AlanU

    AlanU Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Enfield, North London
    I got my first synthetic reed a few days ago, a Fibracell for alto.
    All the mucking about getting reeds into a comfortable condition only for them to go off shortly afterwards was really getting to me.

    I was really pleasantly impressed by its readiness to speak, but slightly disappointed by it being a bit brighter than I wanted.
    This perceived brightness now seems to have settled down, though I can't tell whether it is the reed or me that has changed.
    Sustain also seemed to die at low volume/pressure but that appears to have resolved itself too.

    The only question now is how long it maintains its performance, but for now I'm pretty pleased with it.
  29. MartinL

    MartinL Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Cannock, United Kingdom.
    I've had one a couple of days now, delivery was a week from order, not bad from Japan, I got a 2.5 and think it compares well to a Java 2.5 for strength. Very easy to play, doesn't "give your chops a workout" like the Legere, bright, I'm impressed so far and I would say nicer than the Fibracelle.
  30. picconose

    picconose Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Westminster, MD
    I have, at one time or another tried just about every plastic reed there is for tenor, and have not found any I liked. I am just a newbie, though. I have only been playing professionally since 1963. For many years, I used one of PHil Rovener's soft plastic tenor reeds on bass clarinet, until one day, it made a sound like a duck and just died. As to finding only from three to six reeds in a box that are playable - I guess I am just not that discerning. I rarely find a reed in a box that I can't make work for me. But I play on very soft reeds, so maybe that is the difference. On tenor and bari, I am using LaVoz soft reeds, and rushing them down or sanding the back to make them a little softer. When I was playing for strip clubs, back in the late 1960's, I discovered the way to get a big sound and to blow all night without hurting myself was to use a really big mouthpiece, with a soft reed, and to roll my lower lip outward, like smoking a cigar. That way, I get a sound as big as your back yard, and don't hurt myself. Also, becasue I am not chewing them up, tenor and bari reeds generally last about two or three years for me. Often they get tossed out because I caught them on something; not becasue they wore out or died.

    Just saw the post immediatly before mine and noted the strength - if I put a 2 or 21/2 ANYTHING on my horn, I my as well go out in my garage a pick up a 2x4 to use for a reed. LOL

    (I do use 21/2 or3 Vandorens on clarinet, though. But that is an entirely different embouchure. It is much more vertical than sax. The reed is supported and damped by my lower teeth and merely cushioned by my lip.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2011

Share This Page