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Reeds Filed or Unfiled?

Hallelujahal

Member
Messages
90
Locality
Preston, Lancs
Another question exposing my ignorance I'm afraid. But I went on a website to buy some new reeds this evening, and to my horror came across terms like 'french filed' and 'unfiled'....what the heck's all that about? What's the difference and should I care? I'm not going to order till I have some kind of a clue as to what I'm buying!
Regards, AL
 

Hallelujahal

Member
Messages
90
Locality
Preston, Lancs
Thanks for the link, I think I may purchase a small selection of both types to try out.
AL
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
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8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
In my experience the difference in reeds that have the bark cut off square on the back and those that do not is miniscule at best. There are also many other factors that have a much greater effect on the tone and response of the reed that require attention for a player with less experience. I believe that it takes several years of playing to develop the embouchure control and sensitivity to discern the difference the "style of cut" makes. I know that it did for me.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I was told french cut for french lay mouthpieces (rico royale) and american or unfiled for american mouthpieces (rico orange).

With the world shrinking and standardisation it may not be relevant for modern mouthpieces.

Don't French mouthpieces have a shorter lay with a steeper curve than the American with a shallower curve and a longer lay for the same tip opening?

I play vintage French mouthpieces and prefer a filed reed. There's not much difference in sound, it's the playability that differs for me.

The best thing to do is to order a couple of all sorts of reeds in different strengths and try them. Some will be no good for you at all but others may be a revelation.

I use a clipper to adjust or revitalise a reed and recently have been scraping them a little with a sharp blade to fine tune them.
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
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21,912
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Just north of Munich
Nice thing about filed is that it's easier to line up the lig and reed on the mouthpiece.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
Many mouthpieces now have a more generic medium facing and a medium curve so choice is not always that important. A difference between the two, sound and feel wise is that a filed reed will often feel/sound more flexible and brighter and an unfiled more woody/rigid/percussive. I most often use Marca Jazz (filed) reeds on Alto and Soprano Sax, which are vibrant, flexible and very three dimensional soundwise, but on Tenor I often use Alexander Superial NY's (unfiled) which have a thicker, more percussive sound - on Tenor I use a more classic American style mouthpiece and it feels spot on.

An interesting area, though, and a useful one to explore/understand because people often talk about certain mouthpieces being picky reed wise, and the filed/unfiled issue may be relevant here.
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,328
Locality
London
I use both RJS filed and unfiled on tenor.
The main difference is that filed reeds come in a pinkish box that does not look nice in my case. The unfiled box is more "nausea green". Probably my taste about colours is still in 20th century, if not in the Italian renaissance.

Sometimes I find that on different mouthpieces all the good reeds are unfiled. Some other time, I cannot find a single good unfiled reed in the box.
Same goes for the filed.
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
Many years ago, when I thought Rico Jazz Selects were good I only liked unfiled, so I only used the old style packaging, but there is better packaging around if you like your reeds to look cool - like Marca Jazz, Francois Louis Excellence and similar.
 

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