SYOS

My reed has died

SteadyMiss

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Cheshire, UK
Hi, I am currently in mourning as my favourite reed seems to have died on me. I can't remember the last time I changed my reed but I have had to now and I don't like any of the ones I have got. I have been using a Rico Royal 1.5 but I have also tried my Vandoren Jazz 2's. I find it so hard to start on a new reed and the songs that I can normally fly through with ease are ending up all squeaky or with notes disappearing altogether.

I have been 'playing' for 6 years now (Alto sax) and have had 2 teachers although I am self teaching at the moment - due to time commitments. I practice about an hour a day on most weekdays. I currently use a Selmer S80 mouthpiece with my reeds. I hear about people being on much harder reeds and I just can't do anything with them. Is this normal after 6 years? Do I just need to try harder and do more jaw exercises or should I try a different mouthpiece or reed?

Any advice, gratefully received.
 

RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
Whilst I'm no reed expert, I think it would be wrong to make yourself play on a harder reed just because everyone else is. The correct strength reed for you is the one you feel comfortable with and with which you play your best. I don't get to practice as much as I should, so I guess my embouchure isn't as 'toned' as it should be and that's probably why I don't feel the need to move to harder reeds. Certainly no-one looks down on me because I 'only' use 2.5.

I played standard Vandoren 2s for three or four years before changing to Java, and then moving up to their 2.5, which I've used until very recently. I've just discovered their JaZZ reeds, which feel great and which give me the sound I like on both alto and tenor. They don't help much on my soprano, and I've found the Java better for that (interestingly, that's a plastic mouthpiece; I play metal on the other saxes). If it's any help, I find the JaZZ a little harder then the Java.

I recently tried a Plasticover reed on the alto. It's OK in an emergency, quick to speak, but after a two hour rehearsal I've found it 'softens up' a little too much and I'm squeaking away by the end.

Reeds Direct produces a very handy little brochure that you can send for, which sets out details of the various reed finishes and brands, along with comparative strength. Not being tied to any particular brand, it's impartial in its advice and worth getting hold of. Actually, I wish they'd make it into a downloadable pdf - much more sensible. :)
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Like the others say, play whatever strength suits you. Hard reeds are supposed to help with higher notes, but a lot of people use softer reeds, the more open their mouthpieces are.

get a reed case (e.g. La Voz) and keep a few reeds on the go at once. Play them in sequence. That way when one dies, you've got a few others that are usable and don't need to be played in.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
697
Like others I have found that cane reeds seem to vary subtly in strength. Generally, I find that I get quite a bit of use out of them. I also think that comparison charts represent a highly accurate average of views. As I am much more comfortable with soft reeds, I always choose the softer grade when in doubt.

About three months ago I bought a Legere reed for the baritone, mainly on the recommendation of various members of this forum. So far I have done about 150 hours of practice on it, and it still seems to respond well. I am unable to discern a difference in tone. I have now also ordered a plastic reed (Fibracell) for the tenor. I see no reason to discard cane reeds on the grounds of performance, but plastic reeds can be more convenient.
 

jadoube

Member
Messages
150
Location
Fleet, Hampshire
Hi, I have been using a Rico Royal 1.5 but I have also tried my Vandoren Jazz 2's. I find it so hard to start on a new reed and the songs that I can normally fly through with ease are ending up all squeaky or with notes disappearing altogether.

I have been 'playing' for 6 years now (Alto sax) and have had 2 teachers although I am self teaching at the moment - due to time commitments. I practice about an hour a day on most weekdays. I currently use a Selmer S80 mouthpiece with my reeds. I hear about people being on much harder reeds and I just can't do anything with them. Is this normal after 6 years? Do I just need to try harder and do more jaw exercises or should I try a different mouthpiece or reed?

Any advice, gratefully received.
Don't know about normal but I was similar. Started on 1.5's as per teachers intruction and stayed that way for years. Just didn't seem to have the puff to make harder reeds work for me. Suddenly, for no reason I can see, they stopped working for me and for the moment 2.5's are comfortable.

I'd say stick with whatever works for you. Change if/when something seems to make it necessary.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
I don't believe it matters what strength reed you use. What is important is how you sound with the reed/mouthpiece combination and whether that works for you.

I personally use a no 3 Marca Jazz with Jody Jazz DV NT 7* but I would suspect if I changed mouthpiece I would need to consider other reeds.

Generally softer reeds are easier to blow and help the bottom range, harder reeds take more blowing but help the upper register but you have to take this in context of you mouthpiece.

Our own Mr Thomas I believe favours a softer reed.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,415
Location
Daventry
The more I play with a Hahn synthetic reed, the more I like it. Lacks the subtlety of cane, but also lacks its fickleness.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi There!

Under normal circumstances a reed lasts between 2 - 6 months. When you play a reed over an extended period it becomes softer and softer - such that when you replace it all the others will feel very hard in comparison and squeaks are the order of the day, as your embouchure inevitably adapts overtime to playing a softer and softer reed.

2 Decent solutions:-

1. Get a Vandoren Hydroguard reed case (or similar) which holds 4 reeds and use them interchangeably, so that they all progress at the same rate. If one fails/is damaged etc. you will have several others at the same level of softening. (The case is marked 1,2,3,& 4) so should be easy to rotate them.

2. Look up Alexander Superial website which will tell you how you can prepare reeds to start with, which helps break them in gradually.

Use whatever reeds are comfortable - I usually play 2/2.5 type strength (favourites are Marca Jazz or Francois Louis Excellence, but it is a personal choice).
Thing is don't become over reliant on one reed, with no back up. A useful tip is as follows. Get a box of 10 reeds - soak them in water/alcohol/mouthwash for a few minutes then play them one at a time. Separate the reeds into very good, good, average, poor (there may be some of each group but you would hope to get 7/10 in the first two categories).

Apart from the poor ones the others could all be used, but it can be a good idea to save the best for best. Commonly I practice with 2 Very good, and 2 good (subjective judgement but most of us know what feels/sounds good).

But key issue here is not to over rely on just one reed but have several on the go. Spit does damage them so I do use mouthwash to soak them in before and after practice and would dry them before putting them back in whatever you store them in!

Hope that is helpful
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Marca Jazz Reeds are available in packs of 5 and stocked by "Howarth" in strengths from 1.5 upwards. A pack of 2 strength could be what the doctor ordered - trust me on this ;}

Tom:cool:

If they don't work out I'll buy them off you.....
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
Marca Jazz Reeds are available in packs of 5 and stocked by "Howarth" in strengths from 1.5 upwards. A pack of 2 strength could be what the doctor ordered - trust me on this ;}

Tom:cool:

If they don't work out I'll buy them off you.....
I'd just add that I do find these very consistent and generally get 8 or 9 good reeds from 10. I don't think I have a totally unplayable Marca Jazz reed at all (yet) :w00t:
 
OP
S

SteadyMiss

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Cheshire, UK
Thanks to everyone for all the top tips. I was expecting the answer to be that I just need to try harder and do more exercises so all the wise words are much appreciated. I am now going to order a variety of new reeds and see what suits. I do also have a reed case that my husband bought me - I just haven't used it! I will give it a go now and try not to be so reliant on one favourite.
 
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