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Reeds Another reed question

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
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Put this in the Beginners Questions Forum because basically I am still a beginner :) so where else.

Can anybody explain why there is such a marked difference in the sound of different reeds? I have done a recording using 3 different reeds none of which I would regard as a 'bad' reed but the sound when playing is noticeably different. I wanted to see whether it was just they way I was hearing it when playing or whether the difference actually shows when recorded and I am certain that it does.

The reeds are:
1 Rico Royal
2 Vandoren Blue
3 Alexander Superial

all 2's and all played on the same Tenor set up shown in my signature except for the reed obviously. While typing this post it got posted before I was ready and it doesn't seem to like the files so I will put them in a dropbox. Patience please...

Right if I am very lucky you might find the files here...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4csb5yrq612k140/Rico.wav?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/j0as46xv1p0eqs6/Vandoren.wav?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/v4fjgkj5j4cf2re/Alexander.wav?dl=0

It sounds to me that the Vandoren is a lot more mellow than the other two both of which are much harsher. Do you think it is just reed quality or is there likely to be a marked difference in tone between the three manufacturers?
 
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Colin the Bear

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Reed is a natural product. Like wood. They vary make to make and even same make in the same box. Some sing and some don't. It may be the weather when they're growing or the region or any variable you could think of. The way they're cut and stored. The portion of the reed used. Rico Select say they use the bottom bit and that it's more dense down there

If you hold a reed up to the light you'll see the veins. If you look at the heel you'll see the tubules.
Much like wine and violins they have good years and bad.

You can definitely hear the difference. The trick is to find a reed that suits your mood, style of play and ambient acoustics. It won't be the same reed tomorrow. It may have changed after lunch.
 

johnboy

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In my opinion you are looking for problems where non exist! There is not enough difference in the sound of any of those reeds for you, or anyone else to worry about. Just get on with playing and enjoying your sax. Improvements will come with experience.

Johnboy.
 

jbtsax

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Reeds that are slightly stiffer and have a bit more resistance tend to have less of a "buzzy" sound for lack of a better word than do softer reeds. Reeds that are a bit softer tend to be more responsive in the low register, and reeds that are a bit harder tend to give a more "refined" sound in the high register. It is always a challenge to find those reeds in the middle that do well in all registers, but even then there are always compromises.

(Putting on teacher's cap) From the sound in the recordings, I would like to hear a bit more control of the reed's vibrations. This would mean taking just a tiny bit less mouthpiece in the mouth, and/or putting a bit more lip over the bottom teeth. It is the dampening of the reed by the lower lip that controls the sound to produce a good tone. However that needs to be accompanied by a full airstream to retain the volume and energy. One can get a "bigger" sound by putting more of the reed inside the mouth, but doing so gives up some of the control and refinement of the sound. I hope this makes sense.
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
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Spalding Lincs
Certainly makes sense to me thanks. It is the buzziness that has been annoying me. The Vandoren seems to be a bit stiffer than the others and takes a bit more air which fits in with your explanation.

I will try the teachers suggestion tomorrow and see what difference it makes. I am always open to constructive criticism and if I can do anything to balance out the tone across different reeds by doing as you suggest then it will be well worth it.
 

Colin the Bear

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A vandoren classic blue is half strength harder than a Rico royale. The difference gets bigger as they get harder. A Vandoren 4 being a rico royale 5.

The numbers don't always match up with different makes and even the same make with different cuts.

Make a note of this and check before you buy

http://www.saxophon-service.de/shop/z_57.htm

The rico royale and vandoren classic blue are french filed. Alexander superial DC and classique appear to be the french filed reeds. I've not tried them yet.

I'm not sure which lay the windcraft uses. The Selmer S80 is definately french and prefers a french filed reed imo

The blurb for the windcraft says it's based on an otto link so maybe an american cut reed would suit better
 
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Targa

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If I remember correctly I read something on how they make reeds and it said they make them then test them do determine what strength they are.
So they must fall within a range of tolerance.
This means, for example, that a 2 might almost vary from a hard 1.5 to a soft 2.5.
Or that might be wrong.
 
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kevgermany

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If I remember correctly I read something on how they make reeds and it said they make them then test them do determine what strength they are.
So they must fall within a range of tolerance.
This means, for example, that a 2 might almost vary from a hard 1.5 to a soft 2.5.
Or that might be wrong.

Yes, the physical cut is the same on each. The machine measures the stiffness. However you're assuming a wide overlap between the grades. That shouldn't be the case.
 

jbtsax

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If I remember correctly I read something on how they make reeds and it said they make them then test them do determine what strength they are.
So they must fall within a range of tolerance.
This means, for example, that a 2 might almost vary from a hard 1.5 to a soft 2.5.
Or that might be wrong.
My experience is that in a box of 10 reeds, the strengths (resistance) of the reeds varies considerably. In fact when I test a new box, I write M,S,H on each reed in pencil to grade them further. Some do change over time.
 

Colin the Bear

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I've stopped buying boxes of reeds. I mostly get the 3 packs recently. Unless a bargain pops up. I like the sealed reeds best. I'm sure the person at the music shop sorts through all the open ones and puts all the skew wiff ones in the box I get.
 

aldevis

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It sounds to me that the Vandoren is a lot more mellow than the other two both of which are much harsher. Do you think it is just reed quality or is there likely to be a marked difference in tone between the three manufacturers?

There is also a difference in reed designs; some of them have a thicker tip, a longer vamp or a larger flumb (OK, I made the last one up).

The three reeds you mention shouldn't be radically different, but a Vandoren blue and a Rico orange are.
They are supposed to adapt better to different mouthpieces and facings. Also how comfortable they are for your kind of embouchure.
Traditionally, Vandoren were French cut (classical) Rico were American cut (jazz).

Within each brand/design, there is more or less variance, with some brands that make me curse the makers wishing them embarrassing misadventures, in particular if one box was good and the next one was rubbish.
 

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