All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
SYOS

Article: A Broad Look at Beginners' Issues

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Supporter
Messages
14,010
Article by Saxlicker:

You can view the page at [URL='https://cafesaxophone.com/threads/a-broad-look-at-beginners-issues.11309/[/URL]

 
Last edited:

Rock Lobster

Member
Messages
124
Pete/Saxlicker,

This was really interesting and prompted a question regarding reeds, i think i am right in assuming that most really good players, (lets take Courtney Pine as an example), blow harder reeds. What exactly does this give them? Why do we not have just one strength? Also is it inevitable that as you progress you move up reed strengths?
 

VirusKiller

Member
Messages
449
i think i am right in assuming that most really good players, (lets take Courtney Pine as an example), blow harder reeds.
No. Many such as our own Pete use softer reeds. Take a look at the "Which strength" section of Pete's reeds page.

Why do we not have just one strength?
Because no two players have, or want, the same sound. Reed choice, together with mouthpiece choice, together with sax choice, together with your own embouchure, all contribute to your unique sound.

Also is it inevitable that as you progress you move up reed strengths?
Only insomuch as beginners typically start on soft (1½) reeds which are easier to play, but are more difficult in the highest register, and tend to move on to harder reeds.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Saxlicker

Thank you very much for this overview. It deserves a wide readership, especially among those who are not yet at the intermediate stage. Those who are at intermediate and beyond will recognise some of the stages in their journey.

You bring out clearly that there is no such thing as a 'perfect" set-up, but that it is not too difficult to arrive at useful set-up which need not be expensive. Among these requirements seem to be:

- an instrument without mechanical faults which need not be expensive or be a fashionable brand
- lots of patience and perseverance
- a mouthpiece generally accepted to be suitable for beginners no matter what brand it might be. (I think there is much less necessity to shift to something exotic than vanity might see compelling). OTOH, there is no point in persisting with something you have outgrown)
- a reed probably on the softer side.

I also detect that some little experimentation may be necessary early on to develop a comfortable set-up. An aim for the beginner must be to be able to play all notes from Bb to F# with a pleasing tone. I am glad that you mention this.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Great stuff - really useful and spot on.

I'll be recommending this to students!

Nick
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Hi Saxlicker

I'm three yrs in and found your post a great read and very helpful for the new sax player.I personally at this stage have found the search for a comfortable and reliable and consistent reed is becoming a real pain,I have tended to stick with Rico's of various types ad at the moment am happiest with Jazz select 3S but getting more than a couple that play well out of a box is about it, as it has been with all the others I have tried,I know people say you can soak them and adjust them but I have found this very difficult to achieve. I struggle with most reeds in the 3 range, the reeds that I enjoy playing go off far too quickly and then the hunt for a replacement starts all over again I am considering moving over to plastic reeds, thinking that when I find one I'm comfortable with it should then last a good long time.Do you have any advice on this subject at all......john
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
Thanks every one...and you are welcome!

I have only just caught up on this thread, seeing it for the 1st time today.

I'm glad it is of use, I feel a little humbled by some of the comments and I'm glad it's provoked a little more discussion.
Thanks for posting it Pete.

Beckmesser's comments assure me that I delivered the content clearly enough.
Just to reinforce things...my message, in a nut shell is not rocket science. It's simply about staying focused on certain things that will serve you well, particularly in the 1st couple of years, trying to avoid distracting 'curve balls' and expectations.
Experimentation is exciting but don't stray too far or too often and remember why not.

Ernie Watts on the other hand, uses something like a 10* modified STM link and a floor board :w00t: of a reed and he still sounds great.
So if you want do things the hard way this is my alternative offering ;}
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
Hi Saxlicker

I struggle with most reeds in the 3 range, the reeds that I enjoy playing go off far too quickly and then the hunt for a replacement starts all over again I am considering moving over to plastic reeds, thinking that when I find one I'm comfortable with it should then last a good long time.Do you have any advice on this subject at all......john
Hi John,
I have always stuck with Cane but I agree that a comfortable reed can go off quickly, immediately after peaking in fact!
It's a nuisance that I just put up with. I also use 3S reeds right now and finding they last two weeks maximum but I am really enjoying them.I do how ever find most play well out of the box.
When I had to rely on a reed in a loud band, I found La Voz stuck around for a few gigs longer so I used them exclusively.
Again, comfort is the key there is no reason a plastic reed can't work for you. It's no harm to try it.
Good Luck!
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hi John, Trev,

Fibracell are pretty good also. No moisture problems!
I've been using one now since September. So far so good (as the guy said in "The Magnificent Seven").

John.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Just another quick point for John and others in his situation...
Once you find a reed that works reasonably well, stick with the brand for a while. The temptation to chop and change is strong - like Saxlicker says, high expectations are not always constructive when you're changing your setup.

Whenever you change something there's a certain amount of readjusting to do with your embouchure - this is usually a subconscious process, since the changes are slight, like getting used to driving a different car. If it's close or on the way to where you want to be, you need to stick with it long enough that you get used to the new mouthpiece/reed/whatever, and can really tell if it's doing the job as you wanted. It's possible (as Pete has said) to learn to play on more or less any reed or mouthpiece, but different brands or cuts suit different players better. If you're having trouble with Ricos maybe try Vandorens or another brand, but use the reed comparison chart to find a similar strength to the ones you're used to. And do a long-term trial!

As Johnboy says, the Fibracells are pretty good (though they irritate my lips so I don't use them), or you could try Plasticover, since they're just Ricos dipped in plastic, and therefore a bit more resiliant!

Cheers,

Nick
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom