matching reeds to mouthpieces

dolbob

Member
Messages
80
Location
salisbury wilts
I have played more some years and never really understood the relationship of reed hardness to tip opening, when I've tried to play loudly on a number two reed the reed closes up which makes me think a harder reed will play better on a wide tip opening. Would I get more volume with say number 4 reed and a 9 mouthpiece or am I opening up a can of worms.? I play with a 2 or 2 1/2 and a 7 sharkbite metal which is better for me than the otto link 6 I was using
 

stefank

Member
Messages
368
Location
Hobart, Tasmania
I have played more some years and never really understood the relationship of reed hardness to tip opening, when I've tried to play loudly on a number two reed the reed closes up which makes me think a harder reed will play better on a wide tip opening. Would I get more volume with say number 4 reed and a 9 mouthpiece or am I opening up a can of worms.? I play with a 2 or 2 1/2 and a 7 sharkbite metal which is better for me than the otto link 6 I was using
If the reed is closing up, then yes, you either need a harder reed or a wider tip opening - I wouldn't try both at once (to begin with).

Conventional wisdom has it that you use a softer reed with a wde tip opening, and a harder reed with a narrow tip opening - and you have to find the "balance" that is right for you.

Whether you take the wide/soft or narrow/hard option also depends on what sort of sound you wish to achieve. For example if I am playing in a concert band I use a Morgan 3C mouthpiece with a harder reed. This gives me a warm sound that blends well (even as I get louder), stable pitch and an even timbre over the range of the instrument. If I'm playing in my rock/RnB band then it's the metal Yanagisawa 8 or Morgan Excalibur EL7 with a softer reed. This gives me more volume, greater "edge" (when I need to be heard over electric guitars), and more pitch flexibility (easier to "bend" notes).

To give an idea of where my balance point is, I usually use Vandoren Java 3 reeds on a 7 tip opening, although I sometimes drop back to 2.5 if I want to "squark" a little more.

Bear in mind that reed strengths vary between manufacturers (and also in individual boxes).

Tip opening sizing is also inconsistent between manufacturers, and there are other factors besides tip opening that impinge on just how "playable" any mouthpiece is for you.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,997
Location
Just north of Munich
The bigger the opening, the louder you'll play.

Generally softer reeds for larger tips.

However there's a trade off - as the you blow harder, the reed stays closed longer. So volume drops. This is common to all mouthpieces. A harder reeed will help, but maybe at the expense of low notes, control and your embouchure.

Maybe look at some of the louder mouthpieces, but stay with the softer reeds, working up gently. I can't see sticking a 4 reed on a 9 tip opening piece working for you as a straight move from your current setup.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,518
Location
Surrey, UK
Something that I haven't seen mentioned in the posts yet is the effect of the baffle.

For a given tip opening (and facing curve) a high baffle mouthpiece will be easier to blow that one with a lower baffle. You would therefore tend to use a slightly harder reed for a high baffle mouthpiece.

Rhys
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
all other things being equal:
Larger tip opening -> more resistance
Higher baffle -> less resistance
Harder reed -> more resistance
Longer facing curve -> less resistance

Choose reed strength for comfort. On most 7s mos guys are most comfortable on somewhere around a 3.

Playing with more volume is another thing altogether. More higher overtones <-> more volume. A wider tip doesn't really make much of a difference.

It does sound like you are playing on too soft a reed if it is always choking on you when you play loud. Try gradually harder reeds until you find something that works better.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,575
Location
Lundy Island
I was about to jump in and point out there are more variables than just tip opening or reed strength, and bingo: Rhys and Morgan beat me to it.

However the simple equation of tip opening vs reed strength as a generalisation does make sense when sticking to one make and model of mouthpiece.
 
Top Bottom