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Reeds Difficulty with certain reeds & Saxes.

Melissa

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1,021
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Northamptonshire UK
Hi,

I started to play on the reeds which came with a sax, these were Rico 2.5, and I did find it hard going, I tried Vandorens and broke my lip,:verysad The I went over to Rico Royals as ran out and had one spare, these too I found ok but a bit of a hard blow, I have tried + 1.5'+ 2's and for some reason always seem to squeak and find them hard to manipulate so have stayed with the 2.5's. However, blowing from cold, I just could not get those bottom notes out right until warmed up :confused2:

I had a sax come in and had it overhauled-that old 1920's Tenor I always speak of,, it is rather nice. I ran out of reeds and there was a brand new La voz medium reed in the case, tried it and found it much easier to play with, this died on me so I bought some new Lavoz 2.5's.. lip problem again,:doh: but I have been eagerly practicing recently and today I just could not blow the Lavoz reeds... (though I have had bronchitis for a couple of months now so felt it was because of this..)

However, I decided to take one of the Lavoz medium hard and scrape it down half a dozen times.. incredibly it plays better than anything I have ever used... just wondering if when I am close to running out, whether to buy the medium soft or just keep scraping them down? I think they sound much nicer than the standard Rico's or the Royals... but I suppose that is a personal thing right?

I would class myself as a crap beginner:oops:, I can play some tunes ok but just never practiced enough, self esteem, depression and lack of time through work. Just wondering what others opinions of what is classed as a good beginners sax and such, I have tried modern and late 20thC horns and most just do not do it for me, whilst they play ok, I started to lose interest as for me they did not sound right..I know that sounds odd, but some saxes make noises, others sing and my old horn really does sing for me.

I do believe I have a nice combo for me now, 1920's horn, scraped lavoz, sounds really nice,:) the ergonomics are not perfect by any means as I have found that the low Bb is a bit out of reach, but I have managed to get by ok with it.

Oh, just thought to mention that the mouthpiece I use also came with my first sax, a Berg ebonite 100/1 sms and I have stayed with this since.

Just speaking out and hoping some may give their honest opinions and advice... please!
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
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Cheshire UK
Do you soak the reeds before playing, I find mine much less likely to squeak after a couple mins soaking the whole reed (thanks Tom for that piece of advice) Getting the right sound is so important and I was surprised how much difference reeds and mouthpieces make.

I do think the sax it self can make a difference to tone but you do need the right mouthpiece and reed combination too. I would suggest first finding a sax you feel comfortable playing, ergonomics, weight etc and then find a reed mouthpiece that works for you

Oh and practice does help but is so hard sometimes to fit it in to daily life, keep it fun and don't stress about it :).

Jx
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
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401
Locality
Wiltshire, UK.
I really like La Voz reeds. I have found they are quite inconsistent though, to the point that I occasionally wonder if there's any point stressing about which strength to buy as they vary considerably within the same box. I'm also playing a stray medium at the moment, but also have some soft that play well too but don't last too long.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Rico and rico royale are cut differently. Rico is american cut. Rico Royale is french cut. You'll see a cut across the reed on a french cut reed. The shape of the cut changes the way the reed reacts. French mouthpieces have a different lay to American mouthpieces.
It's explained here

http://www.dawkes.co.uk/clarinets/clarinet-reeds.php

It's about clarinet reeds but the same applies. I think it explains why some mouthpieces are reed sensitive and why some reeds seem to squeak more than others. It's probably because it's not compatible with the mouthpiece.

I like vintage french mouthpieces and use the vandoren classic blue, french cut. Lots of Link players are surprised because they find them squeaky. Horses for courses.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Keep practicing Melissa... the more you build up your embouchure, the less likely you are to get lip trouble and the better you'll be able to control your reeds and settle for a particular brand and strength (and then mouthpiece and then ligature and another mouthpiece: OK we don't seem to 'settle' for anything but ones confidence in choosing is helped no end if you think you're using the equipment as well as you can). Embouchure exercises are probably a good thing. I do them when I remember and as the past year has gone on I have been aware of a change to the positive

As for low self-esteem... for me practicing a musical instrument itself causes periods of low self-esteem when I seem to get nowhere, or I hear a better musician blast through something I struggle with but there's nothing like putting in the time to create beautiful music. Like most of us time is limited for practice so I console myself in the knowledge that progress will be ooooh sooo sloooow but I try to stay determined to devote those spare minutes to practice

Onwards and upwards
 

ArtyLady

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Essex
That sounds to me like a very open tip and hard reed for a beginner. I would suggest trying a much smaller tip opening and a nothing more than a 1.5 rico royal to begin with while you build up your embouchure muscles. :)
 

Lelly

Scarily Tall!!!!
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Ashby de la Zouch
At some point it would be worth going to a local friendly music shop and trying out a range of mouthpieces. it may be that everything clicks into place with a slightly different set up. But it has to be somewhere that will let you play them before you buy (as most good retailers do).

You may find then reeds are less troublesome?

Lx
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
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3,303
Ah welcome to the world of a sax player and reeds. Rico jazz select reeds for me are by far the best and most consistent reed going. I hate all vandorens.
 

ArtyLady

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Essex
I find them all inconsistent Davey! o_O I've settled with Vandoren Java Reds as being the most consistent (for the moment!) I think it becomes more apparent the more experienced player you become too!
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
I find them all inconsistent Davey! o_O I've settled with Vandoren Java Reds as being the most consistent (for the moment!) I think it becomes more apparent the more experienced player you become too!

Another case of some like Marmite some hate it. All different with our own likes.
 

jbtsax

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I played a metal Berg with a 100 tip opening on my Conn "Frankentenor" for many years and the hardest reed I could play was a 1 1/2 Rico Royal. I would say go with what is most comfortable for you to play on.
 

altissimo

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leicester
just a thought, but Berg Larsen's aren't exactly renowned for their quality control and some of them have less than accurate facing curves, so maybe that's an issue - poor mouthpiece facings can sometimes make reeds squeaky and respond poorly. Try borrowing another mouthpiece and see if it makes any difference
 

ArtyLady

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Essex
That's a really good point - I have two HR Bergs both supposedly the same, both 100/2, but they play very differently and neither are easy at all!
 

milandro

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the Netherlands
One should remember that when playing, we are part of a system, a chain of elements all contributing to produce a (good!) sound. The player, the reed, the mouthpiece, the horn, they all contribute to sound production and they have to be integrated in a manner as good and functional as possible.

One very important thing is, thus, to make sure that your horn isn’t leaking because otherwise you are trying to fight a battle that you cannot win in the first place.

A beginner can be very sensitive to even minute leaks, while there are some professionals whom are able to play through many and fundamental leaks ( which means that if your horn has been “ tested” by a good player for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t leaking). Have your horn checked by a qualified technician.



Once you are sure that your horn isn’t leaking then you can go examine the rest of your sound production system.

Mouthpieces can be very tricky and to the naked eye appear to be similar but, as stated before, one plays well and another doesn’t for no APPARENT reason.

Find a mouthpiece that doesn’t require too much effort and of which you like the sound.

After you’ve found this then you proceed to find an appropriate reed which will complement the piece and offer a sound that you like,

Don’t fight the reed, try to find a reed which, possibly out of the box, requires as little adjustment as possible.

Don’t believe that saxophone playing is an exercise in showing off how resistant a reed you can play.

By the way, the numbers indicating the strength of a reed don’t refer to its thickness but to its resistance. All reeds are born the “ same" thickness (and if you measure them you will find very interesting variations there!) and are then measured and selected according to the resistance at the tip (not the other parts of the reed which might also contribute to how the reed feels and performs).


Find a reed that you don’t have to fight and go with it. One can play a soft reed and get a big and “ wide” sound all the same.
 

jbtsax

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My experience with beginners is a bit different than Milandro's. The beginning and less experienced players I have taught are not sensitive to leaks in the instrument or for that matter even how well a reed plays because they are not yet to the point of being able to tell whether it is them or the set-up when they are having difficulty with the tone production.

Also professionals need to be separated into two classifications---classical players and jazz/rock/pop players. Any trained classical player can detect even a minute leak in a saxophone by playing its lowest notes. On the other hand a player in the other style categories who never has occasion to play the low register softly with a full tone and not a subtone or any register softly can certainly force the instrument to speak in spite of its leaks.

The bottom line is that we both agree that having the sax checked by a qualified technician is the best way to go.
 

Ads

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North West UK
I`ve never taught anyone but my experience with beginners is that they blame themselves for all sorts of things which aren`t in fact them at all - anything from a totally Naff horn to leaks, poor stock mouthpieces, bad reeds etc. hand them a properly setup decent horn and they`ll play a lot better - Ironically the best "student" horns are in fact the more professional ones..

BTW John , I`m missing the Pooch Avatar !!
 

Melissa

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1,021
Locality
Northamptonshire UK
Hi all,
Sorry for the late reply, it has been a really manic week. I have been practicing all week when I have had the opportunity and the combination of the shaved lavoz has really made an impact on my playing, especially from cold. I do class myself as a student, but I do "play along" on old smoothies and such, I have got Pete's play alongs- My lucky is it,-sorry my mind fails me quite often, I actually love those as noticed Pete goes through so many phrases and such it is really good to practice to.

I heard Chris's "Embraceable you" and that rather inspired me, I have hundreds of tracks but never actually came across that one, so have Thanked Chris for the inspiration and have been playing this.. I have not made what I feel is a good enough impro though, this is where I tend to come unstuck, I can play most melodies ok..and that is just ok, but impro I really have to work hard with.

I tend to listen to various artists playing and think of mixing them, finishing what I like and messing around with it until it sits right with me.

I just can't play fast at all, or not what I would call fast, slow bluesy stuff is great for me, I can play night train ok, I think I just need more practice. I would love a good player to pop around and show me if and where I may be going wrong, I have not been shown how to play, only learned from a book, I think it was Any Hampton? something like that, but again, for some reason I just loathe the dots...I think it looks more complicated that it actually is and am probably making a meal out of something easy..well perhaps.

I do follow Ben and Coleman on their slow smoochie stuff, but then again, the impro goes out the window.
To be completely honest with you all, half the time I could not even tell you what key I am pressing down! just that I know that note comes from there. Same with Chord patterns and such like... so perhaps I need proper coaching, I would gladly pay to get it right, playing the right sax is everything to me.

Anyway, the reed problem seems to have been resolved and I do tend to get on with the berg, but shall take everyone's advice and check out some smaller opening ones as I do get out of breath a lot and that is without bronchitis or such. I am going to stick with the Lavoz for now, seeing as I am now getting on with them, I am not opposed to trying others just to find anything to make it easier.

I shall one day fathom out how to record and upload how I play, this way I can get some hopefully genuine comments which I am hoping to help. I bought that Yamaha keyboard I spoke of, but the seller did not send it out, advising it broke whilst packing :(.. I actually feel it did not make what he wanted.

Thanks again everyone, I really do appreciate your input "more than you know" :)
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
The main thing you will use when playing is your ear. I think we're all a composite of our heroes and teachers. Theory, technique, reading etc will come in its own sweet time. Don't try to force it. Let it come to you at your own pace.

I wouldn't worry about playing fast. This too will arive in it's own time. It's much harder to play slowly. When playing slowly, accuracy, tone pitch and control have to be bang on and any mistakes are very apparent. If you listen closely to some players, the fast playing is sometimes used to mask mistakes or cover up poor tone. Whenever I get lost in a solo or hit a bum note I'll set off fast up and down through chord progressions or chromatic runs, maybe adding repeated phrases, to try and pick up the plot. This may sound impressive to new players but the old hands know I'm bluffing.

Everybody struggles with improvisation. Recording your efforts is a good thing to do. An attempt at a piece may feel to have fallen short of your expectations at the time, but when you listen back later you may find you've had some interesting ideas that can be worked up.

There's an urgency when we start playing, to learn everything and progress. In time we discover that the more we learn the more there is to learn and we slow and enjoy the where we are now. There's no rush. You'll never be as good as you want to be, because you'll always want to be better than you are.
 

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