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Beginner Sax Notes from reed quest (Legere Classic Studio Cut)

Woland

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Austin, TX
I just (Dec'16) started playing again (after 30+yrs break). So like many beginners I am frustrated with palm keys, overblowing harmonics etc. My horn is 70yo Amati tenor - in good shape although - recently re-padded and serviced.
I am looking now for easy beginner setup - mpc and reeds. The original mps that I had was B&C 230 but I had to replace it - I was getting allergic reaction to it - I guess 50+ yo plastic started deteriorating. I grabbed standard beginner's mpc- Yamaha 4C and tried several reeds.

First one were Rico 1.5 - bought a box of 25 few years ago when I thought I would start playing again. Rico 1.5 are easy to produce first few notes, require little air (on 4C) but low notes seemed overly buzzy. It is nice if you want to practice quietly but it requires control to shapenotes nicely.

Then I tried Vandorens - 2.5 and 2s. First ones seem out of my reach now. 2s were better but I kept running out of breath much faster than with Ricos. I will go back to them in couple of months.

Then I found Rico (d'Addario) Jazz Select. I am very happy with them - nice even tone - no weird frequencies creeping in. First I got 2M (Medium) and it was a bit too "breathy" so I grabbed 2S (Soft) and they are the best natural reeds so far - for my particular level of skills and mpc.

Today I received Leger Classic Studio Cut - synthetic reed - white composite. I looked up the strength table on their website and it seemed that 1.5 Legere was comparable with 2S Rico Jazz Select so that was the strength I bought. I did not have a lot of time to spend with it but I have to say that so far it is much much easier read to play than any cane reed I tried.You hit palm key notes and they just happen. Lows are good too although perhaps with less "oomph". Overall tone is brighter - which is not bad - my horn is definitely of a "vintage warm" type so I was actually thinking how it would eventually sound on stage - not cutting through the mix. It takes less air to play and notes sound more even than with cane reeds I tried. Vibrato is very easy. I almost feel like I am cheating ;-)

I think I will go back and forth between Legere and Rico Jazz select. Next week I will get another mpc - Fobes Debut - we'll see how different reeds work on it. My teacher also offered some of his mpcs to try.
 

kevgermany

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For tenor and alto, I stick to the Jazz selects. Sop I'm on Marca Jazz. For bari, surrender Rico, but I'm still experimenting. The thought of experimenting with plastic scares me. It'll kill my credit card.
 

Woland

Member
Messages
101
Locality
Austin, TX
I found my "voice" thanks to Legere Signature Cut reeds for both my Tenor and Alto. Can't see me ever going back to cane reeds, but that's my opinion - horses for courses and all that!

My ears are not developed for sax tone but coming from a guitar background I see why sax people may tell beginners - it is you and not the reed. On guitar you want playability and good intonation for a student instrument - beauty of tone is secondary. Sure you can buy Thomastic Infeld or flatwound Pyramid strings for $25 a set or you can buy Monel Rotosound for $12. Thomastics will not make any difference for beginners - better save money for professional setup.
As far as synth reeds go - I can compare to my carbon fiber acoustic. It is great instrument - totally impervious to humidity changes - with large bottom end - and the way chords sound on it is different - I believe that due to regularity of structure the harmonics are damped in a different way than on solid wood guitar. And you hear things that you would not hear on wood. That may be what you want or if you are a purist you may think that sound lacks "warmth" and "complexity". I think that something similar could be true about Legers but my own playing is simply not there yet to judge such refined aspects. I think that most of "complexity with me on cane reed comes from my lack of skill ;-)
 

Woland

Member
Messages
101
Locality
Austin, TX
For tenor and alto, I stick to the Jazz selects. Sop I'm on Marca Jazz. For bari, surrender Rico, but I'm still experimenting. The thought of experimenting with plastic scares me. It'll kill my credit card.

I have only one data point but their comparison chart is correct about Rico Select 2S and Legere 1.5 - for my untrained judgement they are very comparable.
Strength Charts | Légère Reeds
Btw - how do you maintain skills on 4 different saxes? I thought about getting soprano but I barely have time to play tenor and advance on it and maintain guitar. I also started on piano and dabble with bass. The only woodwind I thought about getting is EWI - simply for the fun of playing Bach cello sonatas ;-)
 

Lloyd P

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Warrington
My ears are not developed for sax tone but coming from a guitar background I see why sax people may tell beginners - it is you and not the reed. On guitar you want playability and good intonation for a student instrument - beauty of tone is secondary. Sure you can buy Thomastic Infeld or flatwound Pyramid strings for $25 a set or you can buy Monel Rotosound for $12. Thomastics will not make any difference for beginners - better save money for professional setup.
As far as synth reeds go - I can compare to my carbon fiber acoustic. It is great instrument - totally impervious to humidity changes - with large bottom end - and the way chords sound on it is different - I believe that due to regularity of structure the harmonics are damped in a different way than on solid wood guitar. And you hear things that you would not hear on wood. That may be what you want or if you are a purist you may think that sound lacks "warmth" and "complexity". I think that something similar could be true about Legers but my own playing is simply not there yet to judge such refined aspects. I think that most of "complexity with me on cane reed comes from my lack of skill ;-)
I play bass guitar also, so know exactly where you're coming from.
 

kevgermany

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Btw - how do you maintain skills on 4 different saxes? I thought about getting soprano but I barely have time to play tenor and advance on it and maintain guitar.
Once you get used to them, not difficult. Sop to bari is tricky, you end up too tight on the bari. And going the other way you forget to breath in time.
 

altissimo

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leicester
For me the advantage of synthetic reeds is that they play the same every day. Cane reeds no matter now good can vary - one day a reed plays well, the next day it plays a bit differently. So at least that's one less variable to worry about - if there's a problem with my playing it;s me, not the reed...
While nothing can quite mimic the way a cane reed plays, synthetics can make life easier once you get one that suits you.. and they last a long time
 
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Woland

Member
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101
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Austin, TX
So hmmmm..... couple new data points:
1. I played my tenor with Yamaha 4C and Legere 1.5 in parking garage at work. Great reverb. Slightly brighter tone of synth reed fits the space perfectly - generates some very sweet reflections that mix nicely with your current note.

2. I also grabbed Fobes Debut mpc and I have to say Legere 1.5 does not agree with that mps - at least at first blow. Midrange notes are fatter and darker but on top I choked. I tried cane reed - Rico Select Jazz 2S and 2M and they worked better - I could play top C-F - no problem.

I still find 4C+Legere 1.5+Rovner 2R as the easiest setup I have - 2 steps easier than any cane reed. So I may stay with synths for a while - maybe get Legere 2 next. And mix it with cane I usually start practice with cane then switch to synth.

My new practice space:
sax_garage.jpg
 

jeremyjuicewah

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The thought of experimenting with plastic scares me. It'll kill my credit card.

No it wont Kev. It will maim it. Then it will have loads of recovery time cos as long as you dont trap the tips while closing a poorly designed case they will last forever and ever and ever. I am astonished by my oldest reed. It works from between one and two hours every day and is now over 5 months old. I can verify it up to 5, it is almost certainly older. For me the Legere Signature line has been the answer to a prayer, if only a small one. Lottery etc not answered yet. 25 quid, so its a box of cane and I think the cane would be just about done by now. The Legere Sig is, well, its just better in every way. For me. Well worth a try, but really hard to get the right strength. They will exchange them under certain, reasonable conditions, if you can be **sed. If you havent already, give them a go.
Best wishes
Mike
 

jeremyjuicewah

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I am astonished by my oldest reed. It works from between one and two hours every day and is now over 5 months old. I can verify it up to 5, it is almost certainly older.

I have just, by accident, spotted a reference to this very reed from June 2016. I am astonished at how that time has gone by. It is the same reed that I am using now, though I have bought a spare. I have frozen it once, following advice on this forum, but not sure it needed it. I will use the new one in practice tonight and see if it makes a big dif. Your credit card would not only have recovered over the life so far of this reed Kev, it might have reproduced.
 

jeremyjuicewah

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as long as you dont trap the tips while closing a poorly designed case they will last forever and ever and ever

Lets try again. I have found another way to damage Legere sig reeds. If they are not quite central on the rails just ease them over slightly. If all goes as it ought a great split will appear lengthwise down the reed. Very impressive and just as soon as I find myself with another 25 quid that need spending I will probably try it again. I think that anyone can do this, it doesnt need any special skill or practice. Hats off to Legere and my great big thumbs.
 

Woland

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101
Locality
Austin, TX
Lets try again. I have found another way to damage Legere sig reeds. If they are not quite central on the rails just ease them over slightly. If all goes as it ought a great split will appear lengthwise down the reed. Very impressive and just as soon as I find myself with another 25 quid that need spending I will probably try it again. I think that anyone can do this, it doesnt need any special skill or practice. Hats off to Legere and my great big thumbs.
As I say it to our testers daily "send me to steps to reproduce"... I use Rovner ligature and usually spend couple minutes putting reed precisely where I want them - so far no problems. As far as case - they come without case - I usually use reed holders from Rico Jazz Select reeds (and put these in reed case).
 

Ivan

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I have found another way to damage Legere sig reeds. If they are not quite central on the rails just ease them over slightly...
So this is the reed sitting to one side of the table with the ligature pulling the overhanging reed lengthways against the fulcrum of the table?
 
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Jazzaferri

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Victoria BC Canada
I have found that with synthetics even a tiny difference in reed location can make a significant difference in how it plays on a mpce.

I have also found that (at least for me) each mouthpiece has a strength of Legere Signature that seems to work best. I have no idea how much my embouchure/style impact that but its an ara worth experimenting with methinks.
 

carburetor

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Virginia, USA
they will last forever and ever and ever

So I have a question.

I have the Legere Signature and Studio Cut in strength 3 for tenor. I have played them each for a few days, and already they have bent quite significantly such that the opening at the tip of the mouthpiece is much smaller than it should be. What gives?

I have played Fibracell reeds for years and they do not do this. They actually last for months. The Legeres sound better but they won't be worth the money if they bend faster than cane reeds. I am confused!

Maybe I should have started a new thread, but it seems like there are already several thread about the Legere reeds.
 

Janosax

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336
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France
I've the same behavior on my Signature Series Tenor 2 reed, it bends a little bit after playing it, so I store it in a reed holder after all playing session, as adviced by Legere. I didn't noticed however bad things concerning how they last despite this, still going strong day after day, playing it perhaps every two days in alternance with cane reeds since one month. Perhaps synthetics are a bit different from cane, despite my Plasticover do the same thing after a few days, and I have a synthetic Ponzol which stay straight since 3 months. Don't know what others players can say about this.
 

Jazzaferri

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I have been playing the same Signature 3 reed on an 11* PPT Hooligan since I got the Hooligan maybe 6-7 months ago. Only gets changed for my other Sig 3 on gig nights for second set. I have never had any of my Signature reeds (I use them on SATB) bend.

I hate to tell you guys who are bending your signatures, maybe it's something you are doing, like biting......nt sure but its the only thing I can think of
 

Janosax

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Really relaxed embouchure here :cool: ... so seems to be something else in my case. I think when the reed vibrate it's not such a big issue however.
 

Jazzaferri

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Victoria BC Canada
Hmmmm......I wonder then if it might have something to do with the way the reed interacts with the facing curve. Either that or mybe something that affects the lower strength reeds

I have been playing signatures exclusively for two years now and never had that problem, but the weakest Legere I have is 2 3/4 and I tried it and should really send it back to Legere for a 3. Was just too soft for my sound.

Lets try again. I have found another way to damage Legere sig reeds. If they are not quite central on the rails just ease them over slightly. If all goes as it ought a great split will appear lengthwise down the reed. Very impressive and just as soon as I find myself with another 25 quid that need spending I will probably try it again. I think that anyone can do this, it doesnt need any special skill or practice. Hats off to Legere and my great big thumbs.

Email Legere....NOT the UK distributor (from what I have read they are not so easy to deal with) I would be surprised if they wouldn't replace a split reed.
 
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