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Is it cheating to go to a softer reed?

Kath

Member
Messages
119
I'm a beginner - been playing for a little over 1 month and am really keen to do things right. But - I decided to try a softer reed, just to see what it was like and what difference it made. It made things a whole lot easier - am I cheating though? Should I continue to persevere more with a 2.0 reed, or is it OK to enjoy the relative ease of playing with a 1.5?
 

llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
431
It's certainly not cheating. In time, your "chops" will cope more easily with a harder reed and if you are playing for enjoyment, why make things unpleasant for yourself? Many players will from time to time vary reed hardness for a variety of reasons - personally if I've had a lay-off for any reason I usually restart on a softer reed and move up a gear when I feel up to it.

Only experience can fully develop your embouchure and you will know when the time is right to go up a notch.

Keep blowing and above all enjoy the experience.

Dave
 

SimonR

New Member
Messages
11
No, it's not cheating. I can't say I'm any type of expert only having been playing about 9 months myself, but it seems to me that some people imagine harder reeds as some sort of 'promotion'. It's not. Whatever works for you is OK. After a while you may find that your embouchure has strengthened and that you find the softer reed 'closing up' on you and stifling your notes. Then maybe it's time to try something a bit harder. Until then, use whatever feels right.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,086
Lets put this another way. Is it cheating to go walking in comfortable shoes? Is it cheating to have the right prescription in your glasses?

The object is to make a pleasant sound not to have large numbers stamped on everything.

It's music not a weight lifting competition. Neither is it punishment for past sins. We have to suffer for our art but that's the soul not the chops.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
like the others said... play what works for you.

To add - softer reeds are easier on the embouchure, easier on the low notes, but can have a flabby tone. Harder reeds trend to make the low notes tricky, but the higher ones easier. Sound seems to be cleaner, maybe brighter.

And... reed choice is very much dependant on mouthpiece - type, facing, tip opening...
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,667
It is definitely worthwhile to find a good teacher who can help....they can make sure you are getting it right from the get-go

its a real PITA to have to unlearn bad habits after several months. Even a lesson a month or so...just to make sure one is onthe right path
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Well, I can tell you that I started playing with reeds #2, later on I felt it necessary to move to a harder one, so I moved to #2.5.
Now I am using #3 reed and am quite comfortable with them. So, don't worry to much with this. Start with the more comfortable reeds to you and figure out when to change.
But as kevgermany said "And... reed choice is very much dependant on mouthpiece - type, facing, tip opening..."
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,286
Can't add too much to what has already been said but stay with what you are comfortable with.

Many years ago there used to be thing about having to play as hard a reed as possible,mainly it was so that you could be heard in a band with electric guitars and drums but now with better PA equipment and mics for saxes its not so important.

I started on 1.5s and over 20 years later i am still only on 2s and 2.5s and happy with my sound.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,946
My sax teacher is against 'macho hard-reed culture' :) Go with what you can get the most out of at your current level of capability. We're all individuals and different.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,088
I have only been playing a month but both my tutor and Dawes advice was to go with a 2.5 reed. I may well drop down to see if it is significantly easier
 

TimboSax

Deputy junior apprentice 2nd class
Subscriber
Messages
814
Seems similar to a debate that runs in guitar circles: heavier strings = better tone.

This is not a point of view that I subscribe to: I play with light-ish strings and it sounds fine to me and to the audience.

I think the important thing is to play what's right for you, not what's right for someone else. If I try playing with heavier strings, I don't sound as good because I'm fighting the strings and so my tone and playing suffers. It's not a question of light vs heavier, it's more a question of right for me vs not right for me.

From what I've heard about reed strengths, it's a similar thing: don't stress about hard vs soft, find what suits you right now (I bought one each of a range of different strengths and played each to find what was comfortable), and play with that. It may well change with time, but you have to play with what suits you now, not what will suit you in 6 months time.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,010
I'm a beginner - been playing for a little over 1 month and am really keen to do things right. But - I decided to try a softer reed, just to see what it was like and what difference it made. It made things a whole lot easier - am I cheating though? Should I continue to persevere more with a 2.0 reed, or is it OK to enjoy the relative ease of playing with a 1.5?
A #2 is a soft reed. Playing on a 1.5 which is a too soft reed will do nothing but delay the development of the muscle tone in your embouchure, and get you used to a poor quality tone. If your mouth tires playing on your 2 reeds, stop and rest. You can speed up the development of your embouchure muscles by doing the smile - whistle exercise 50 times several times a day. Another good exercise is holding a soda straw in your mouth as long as you can watching t.v., etc. With practice, in no time the 2 reeds will feel comfortable, and you will be looking to move up to 2 1/2.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Not sure that everyone will agree with this rather narrow view. I don't! Not all 2 reeds are soft - try a Vandoren Traditional, V16, Alexander NY.

Kind regards
Tom
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,088
Dawkes recommended Gonzales reeds to me - probably as a beginner - but I never hear any mention of them on this site. Is anyone using them? Are they a good reed?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Dawkes recommended Gonzales reeds to me - probably as a beginner - but I never hear any mention of them on this site. Is anyone using them? Are they a good reed?
Initially bought some originals for Tenor - too stiff, like lollipop sticks. I recently ordered the new jazz reeds for Alto. Too stiff, not impressed. Cancelled order for Soprano reeds. So I'm not that keen. Prefer Rigotti Gold, Marca Jazz and Francois Louis Excellence reeds.
 
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