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Reeds Hard versus Soft

StockholmSax

New Member
Messages
14
I am totally amazed at the difference in tone when changing reed strength. I always play ligere signature and when I move down a strength or two the tone change is like night and day.
I have much more buzz on the softer reeds probably suited to rock and blues. On the harder reeds I have much more of a breathe jazz sound brilliant for ballads.
I would even claim reed strength change has a bigger impact than mouthpiece change.
Anyone agree?
Strange that we all go hunting for the ultimate mouthpiece when a different reed set might just do the trick.... Much cheaper.
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
Subscriber
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3,540
I'm a bit sad to admit that the synthetic reeds, specifically the Légère Signature, changed my perspective on reeds. Why sad, well just because I always liked the natural side/origin of the reeds, especially because I'm from the region where they grow the best reed cane...

But, I have to say that those reeds changed my life as a player. I don't have to waste so much time evaluating the reeds, tweaking them to suit my needs, etc.

Once you found the right one for the mouthpiece, that's basically it.

Now, I agree that using a harder one may sound better on ballads, but it's much more work and I tend to be lazy and I like when it comes out easily... :confused2:
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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7,490
This has always been a fascinating topic for me. I believe reed selection is a very personal thing. In my nearly 60 years of playing saxophone I have found the strength of the reed to be largely determined by the tip opening, the length of the lay, and the degree of "baffle" if any of the mouthpiece. Reeds tend to feel harder when moved from a less open tip mouthpiece to one with a wider tip opening in my experience.

I generally select reeds based on the amount of resistance I like to blow against even more than the sound or tone quality, but that is important too. Some reeds sound great, but tire my embouchure too quickly. That said, when I practice or play a lot I can usually go up a 1/2 strength and still be comfortable.

The challenge for me has always been to find reeds soft enough to respond well in the lowest register and firm enough to sound good in the highest register. I have found the sound of Legere Signature reeds to be acceptable on bari and tenor, but I still prefer cane reeds on alto, soprano, and clarinet.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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5,868
I would even claim reed strength change has a bigger impact than mouthpiece change.
Anyone agree?
Well, no, not really. Unless you mean a bigger impact in playability. Yes I can put on a reed that's softer or harder than I normally use but it makes everything more difficult. So why would I?
 
OP
StockholmSax

StockholmSax

New Member
Messages
14
No I mean changing a reed strength has a bigger impact on tone than changing a mouthpiece.
Have you never experienced that every mouthpiece you every play just sounds like you? Just a different variation of your sound.
But when changing reed strength you can produce a totally different tone?
 

apinter

Member
Messages
80
I don’t find the hardness of reeds so crucial for tone.
Type of reed maybe more. Some have a fuller body than others and more buzz that I can’t define much better than that. And so I like them.

Some, like vandoren blue, have something against me, and I cannot play them with any satisfation at any strenght on any mouthpiece opening. Some are right for me, except the occasional dogs, and just have to find the right strenght for the moment and mouthpiece. i am not sure if it is my phisical shape, mood, but sometimes I have to go up and down half a strenght and I keep a selection of reeds ready in a small range of strenghts, so I can find the right one at the moment.

I don’t tweak them much usually. Just flatten the table sometimes or make the one that is out of my range of stiffness, or sounds stuffy, bit more right for me. Or just try, not much often with great success.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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1,349
. I have found the sound of Legere Signature reeds to be acceptable on bari and tenor, but I still prefer cane reeds on alto, soprano, and clarinet.
I have had a similar experience. The Legeres aren't bad on tenor but I have been playing Rigotti Golds on alto. I like them much more than Legere, which I find stuffy.
 

randulo

Playing alto 25 months
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Messages
3,498
I find a big difference in combinations of reed+mouthpiece. With regard to overtones or altissimo, bottom bell and high notes and also a reed that will close up on one and not the other mouthpiece. A lot of the work I do daily involves jumping between the registers, low C, C# to A for example.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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7,083
I find a change to harder strength simply makes playing more difficult, just like @Nick Wyver

Mind you didn't Stan Getz and Paul Desmond fashion their tone with hard reeds and narrower mouthpiece lays?
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,799
I kinda agree. I can skew an edgy mouthpiece to fluffy by reed choice, and vice versa. Different types/cuts of reed make a huge difference too.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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1,799
I'm with jbtsax on this... My preference is a wider tip mouthpiece, but if playing a narrower tip need a stiffer reed. If for some reason I need to play louder and project more I use a stiffer reed as well (outdoor without amplification). The change in tone is minimal if at all but I loose the ability to more easily hit the bottom notes with a stiffer reed but can hit the highs with more power.

I have no idea how much experience StockholmSax has a a player, but think that they may be experiencing tonal change in adapting to the difference in reed strength rather than having a specific tonal concept that works regardless of the reed strength.

Making the sax sound/play as we wish to hear it is the goal. All the gear is just there to help us accomplish that as easily as possible. You dictate the sound, not the gear. I'm always amused by the plethora of videos out there by good players comparing gear. What always comes through is that they mostly sound the same with very little difference. Again, it's less the gear and more you. Choose your horn, mouthpiece and reed strength according to what works. Changing any one of these is a matter of need for a specific circumstance and shouldn't make that much difference unless you go beyond the parameters of what's playable for you.
 
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