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Reeds Changed the Reed - Completely Changed my Playing Experience

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I've been struggling with my new sax (BW bronze AI) for 3 weeks now - but I am completely new to sax playing. It was hard to blow at all, I run out of breath quickly, I need several blows to get one note, usually worse at the start of playing and the lower notes "stall" and gurgle. All the usual beginners issues and more!

I was using a Rico number 2 reed on my Yamaha 5C mouthpiece for most of the time. My teacher (2nd lesson booked for later today) suggested a thinner reed, and

I got a box of 5 Marcha Jazz 1.5 reeds in the post this morning. These were the only 1.5 reeds I could see on the Thomman website, that were not in boxes of 10, when I was also ordering a "Jazzlab Saxholder" (which I haven't had time to use yet).

I tried out the 1.5 reed a few minutes ago and my playing is completely changed. The notes are MUCH easier to hit first time. I went right up to high C (3rd octave) with no problems and all first time, without breathing hard at all.

There are some issues though:

1. The mouthpiece seems to completely "block" when trying top D (I did get that previously blowing very hard with the number 2 reed). It is as if there is a plug at the back of the MP stopping the air.

2. The sound is dramatically changed - and I'm not sure if I like it - or (more importantly) if it's what I should be getting. It seems much brighter, and harsher, almost "growling" and raspy (without using the growl technique).

So while on the one hand I'm playing easier, I don't know if I should be playing that way!

I thought I'd canvass opition on the reeds themselves and if you think what si happneing should be happening.

Thanks for any comments.

Stephen
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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14,769
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
We all have our favourite reeds because they all sound and feel different.

http://www.reeds-direct.co.uk/instrument/reeds/tenor-saxophone.html

Order a few singles of different makes to try them.

Be aware though that the numbers aren't always compatable. A 2 in one reed may be a 3 in another.

Google reed comparison chart. Google Image Result for http://athomemusicacademy.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/reed-comparison-chart.jpg



Your preference may well change as your chops develop.

Try to void the temptation to squeeze out the top notes or blow them harder. Sounds like you're closing the reed off.
 
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photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
Your preference may well change as your chops develop.

Try to void the temptation to squeeze out the top notes or blow them harder. Sounds like you're closing the reed off.

Thanks for that Colin and the other links, I'll have a look later today when I get a break.

Is it likely that the 1.5 reeds will make blowing easier, as it seems to for me? And if so, can I stick with that grade forever (assuming I find a sound I like) or should I aim to player harder reeds, over time?

Stephen
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
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2,770
Locality
Ilkley West Yorkshire
Hi Stephen,

Beginners often start on too hard a reed. As time goes on and your embouchure develops you'll want to move up a size or two.
As you've found a 1.5 is closing up on you so eventually you'll need a harder reed. Plus you'll get a better tone in the higher register. Colin's advice is sound.
This is only the start, you'll become a reed/ligature/mouthpiece tart like all of us.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,769
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Lots of beginners, me included back in the day, get confused by thinking the bigger the number the better the player. It doesn't work with walking boots and it doesn't work with the saxophone. Till you get going keep it simple. There's plenty to contend with at first so an easy blow will let you develop fingers and breathing and reading etc. You'll know when you're ready for a change and your teacher will help. The strength of reed is restricted by the mouthpiece. You have to find the goldilocks reed. Experiment by all means but don't get distracted by it. Practice is the main thing that makes things easier and better

Do you soak the reed before you play it? A quick wet is ok but a soak is better. And don't forget to wash out the mouthpiece now and then.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,131
Locality
Cheshire UK
Hi

I've been playing about 2 years and I am still learning. For ages I stuck with the same reed and mouthpiece. I changed my sax and nothing seemed right anymore. I tried a few different mouthpiece and reed combinations and was amazed how much difference they made. I am settled for the time being with my current set up, but it is worth experimenting to get a sound you want and one that is easy to play but don't let it distract you too much. There is so much to learn in the beginning as stated above. If you can get a selection of reeds and mouthpieces to try great. If you find something then stick with it while you get everything else sorted. For me finding the right mouthpiece was the most important part. If you can get to a shop to try a few it will be well worth your time and effort and you will be surprised how much difference you will find in different pieces.:)

Happy hunting.

Jx
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
Do you soak the reed before you play it? A quick wet is ok but a soak is better. And don't forget to wash out the mouthpiece now and then.

I didn't soak this one the first time, but have done now since reading your post. I can't say I'm hearing a big difference.

I asked my teacher about it today, and he's fairly sure it's my embrochure and intonation (problems). The last word is mine not his - he's a VERY good teacher. :thumb:

Stephen
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,540
Locality
The Palm Tree strewn Wandle Surf Beach under the o
Stephen
You'll be a real saxophonist when you can play lolly sticks, using a size 11* mouthpiece with a hose clip lig.:D

It is a journey of discovery, just enjoy the surprises.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
It would be absolutely true to say that your playing ability will be the main learning curve. Most beginners I've heard sound absolutely dreadful to start with. Getting the notes and finding a reed that works is very important, but if you sound dreadful a good reed will not disguise that, more likely it will emphasise that. I use Marca Jazz reeds on all my saxes and they are really superb. They do have a slightly brighter sound than some as they are a filed "French Cut" and very flexible - never played a bad one so far. Unsoaked reeds are one of the biggest causes of squeaks and general inflexibility. If you are having problems with top D then you may have too tight an embouchure which is closing the reed. You would probably find the a Marca Jazz 2 was playable for you also.

At least if you are getting the notes then you have made a good start. Improving the sound of the notes may well be your next challenge.

If you want a reed chart that is not just a Vandoren and Rico promotional aid then this is about the best: http://www.saxophon-service.de/shop/z_57.htm
 
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