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Reeds Ponzol Proreed mini-review and synthetic reeds behavior questions



I've buyed a Ponzol Proreed 2.5 synthetic reed for my tenor and play it on my Lebayle LRII metal since one week.

Reed Information | Peter Ponzol | Handcrafted Saxophone Products | Antigua ProOne Saxophone

Peter Ponzol ProReed Tenor 2,5 – Thomann Mobile


It looks much better in reality than on this picture.

I usually play Plasticover 2 since 5 months, but during more than 15 years played cane only with Rico Royal, Rico Jazz Select and Vandoren ZZ mainly. As I have a dark sounding mouthpiece, Plasticover complement very well and add punch and brightness to the warm/fat core this MPC gives. A long time ago I played a Bari reed which was responsive but give a "plastic" bright sound. So I hadn't much faith in synthetic reeds, but wanted to try something else, and see how was today's synthetic reed responsiveness, consistency, longevity, and what kind of tone I could have with it. I've decided to try Ponzol Proreed cause the man seems to make some good stuff with MPC and saxes, and because main alternative was Legere Studio cut 1.75, but this one seems to be on the very bright side from what I've read, and sounds "plastic" on videos I've seen.

After one week, all I can say is WOW, this reed has HUGELY WARM character, with emphasis on low frequencies on every notes from bottom to top. My tone is wide, fat, warm, and lively. This is the main pro. It's less bright sounding than Plasticover, but bright enough to enlightening the dark Lebayle LRII character, giving me a tone corresponding to the sound I have in my head. There is a slight buzz too, related to MPC chamber and which I love and search for, but again less than on Plasticover which is on the whole a pretty bright sounding reed.
Responsiveness is pretty good, it's punchy too, and has some pretty good maleability on dynamics/pitch/tone as the material is pretty flexible.
I've needed to adapt myself to this reed quite much, just like changing cane reed brand or strenght however. It sounded a little bit that "plastic" thing first days until I worked on it and my blowing technique and embouchure adapt to that reed, and today this particularity has gone, which wasn't possible on the Bari reed. On the whole, this Proreed plays and sounds pretty much like a cane reed I must say. I'm very positively surprised.
My higher register between high D and F# stills lacks a little definition, but the more I practice the more I get the sound I want, in one week or more it will be better, again like on every reed/MPC/sax setup modification situation. Higher register particularly always seems to need practicing a lot after setup alteration before getting your own voice "shade/shape" in your tone. Altissimo is a bit chalenging on this reed, I've to bite more and perhaps it's related to 2.5 strenght and a Proreed 2 will be better for me. A can't pronounce myself however until I practiced much more on this reed, but usually I haven't difficulties playing altissimo. I will give additional feedbacks on these aspects later.

Global technique on this reed is blowing with a wide and strong air column, with a lower lip which is more enlarged on the reed than Plasticover/cane reeds, lower teeth can help here depending on your technique, but without biting more than usual with even a slightly loosened embouchure. Playing with throat opening, tongue placement, oral cavity and jaw placement will do the rest.

This 2.5 reed is between Rico/Plasticover 2 and 2.5.

One thing I've noticed is that firsts 2/3 minutes I play the reed, it's softer, more like a 2 reed. After this moment, it become harder to blow and asks for more lips/chops strenght, and become more like a 2.25 reed. It's like it warmups. Even if I stop playing 5 minutes, it's easier first 20 seconds I play it again and then become harder/normal.
Sometimes, strenght seems to fluctuate while playing, become harder and softer in one minute, but I'm not totally sure about that last thing however, as it's not that noticeable.

Is it something common on synthetic reeds? Legere are like that?

This is the only thing I like less on this reed, Peter Ponzol said in answer to one of my mail this reed is softer at the beginning he play it. I surely can adapt myself BTW, because this reed has huge tone qualities. After all, cane reeds has the opposite behavior, becoming softer while playing them.

I will do a recording comparison later, and will post the results here.
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And Ponzol recommends extending tip of reed beyond mouthpiece tip, which is a new one on me
It's true, I've forgotten talking about that. Reed placement will change response. Below mpc tip will facilitate high register response and low register will be more resistant, beyond the tip will do the opposite. For me best results are reached at a fraction of millimeter beyond the tip like 1/10 mm. This way response has some eveness on whole register, staccato are not altered and tongue feeling is not odd. So it's not an issue.

I'll experiment going one step beyond
Thanks for the informative review, I'd been looking at the Ponzol Proreeds and wondering what they're like, but couldn't find any user reviews.
I've been playing synthetic reeds for over 10 years now - mainly Fibracells although I'm using a Bari* that that I've sanded and modified a bit. Bari's seem to need a bit of work to make them blow well - I use fine wet and dry paper..
Synthetic reeds tend to need a bit of adjustment from the player as well, the response of a bit of damp cane is more complex than a uniform piece of plastic, so some embouchure and lip adjustment is often needed. I think most of the disappointment in synthetic reeds comes from people trying them and finding that they're not the same as a cane reed and I don't think it's possible to accurately mimic a piece of wet cane, so there will always be differences, but no more than going from playing one type of mouthpiece to another. They don't suit all players and some mouthpieces may not be ok with them, so they're not for everyone and if people are happy with cane then there's no point changing just for the sake of it.
For me the advantage is that I can play softer reeds without them going soggy, the response is quicker and more 'zingy' and altissimo and multiphonics are better. And being a lazy git I can leave them on the mouthpiece and they don't go mouldy.
Well nice to read that this reed review is useful.

As promised, a soundtest of the Ponzol Proreed 2.5. The setup is a Gear4music tenor with Lebayle LRII 8* MPC, recorded in my Saxmute One with SDsystems SX-1 into Iphone Garageband app, monitored with Earpods.
As the sax is in a mute, high register is a little thin because of mic placement very near to the bell. Or/and I can just need more practice on this reed, same thing to be able to brighten low register a little bit when needed to have more tonal palette. Low C at the end of recording is a little unstable, but related to mute I need more playing practice inside it.
But it sounds good especially considering it's in a mute, it's a good sax setup I like it very much.

m4a you can listen on web:
Test Ponzol Proreed 2.5.m4a

aiff you need to download but much better sound:
Test Ponzol Proreed 2.5.aiff
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