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Beginner Reed position - beginners query

TBay

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61
I have a couple of questions regarding reed/ mouthpieces that I hope the collective minds on here can help with.

Firstly - do you leave your reed attached to the mouthpiece or not? My friend, and saxophone teacher, suggests removing it after each and every session. But the protective cap seems designed to take the mouthpiece with the reed in place.

Secondly - when I looked at information and watched YouTube tutorials on reed position they suggested a ’thin‘ gap between the end of the reed and the end of the mouthpiece. Pictures seem to show a hairs width but I find if I make the gap about 1mm I get a more consistent sound. Is this bad technique on my part? Or just one of those things that comes down to personal preference.

Lastly - how much does ligature tension affect sound? And how tight should it be?

For reference I am using Juno 1.5 reeds, a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece and Rovner dark ligature.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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I place my reed exactly flush with the end of the mpc. I press the reed towards the tip of the mpc while aligning it.
I also place the reed absolutely dead centre left to right of the flat part of the mpc.

Pushing the reed so it overlaps the end of the mpc makes it play “hard”, conversely if it underlaps it plays “soft”.

I tighten the ligature until the screw just starts feeling challenging to turn. You don’t need to crank it up silly tight. The reeds needs to stay put.

And I always remove my reeds from the mpc, dry them & put them in a reed storage case, take the mpc off the sax, dry it & keep it in a box with all the other mpcs, and the saxes stay out in their stands, under a dust cover.
 

jbtsax

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What Mandy H said. :) With my students I always used the term "snug" t0 describe how tight the ligature screws should be with the front screw a little lighter than the back. I like to start with seeing just a "thread" of black past the end of the reed, but I also check looking at it from both the top and the bottom to compare.
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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3,869
I recently noticed that if I pull the reed slightly back, ie leaving a bit more gap, it sounds kind of buzzy and I like that. :D

Doesn't always work though... You have to experiment. There's plenty of experimenting to do with our horns and it can be fun or discounting. Depends! :confused2:
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
528
I agree with all the advice given above. I suggest you experiment. It is both fun as well as teaching you how to adjust when unexpected problems occur eg squeeks.
Try reed positioned beyond as well as short of mpc tip. I find the effect varies with strength and brand of reed and mouthpiece.
Try tightening ligature to where you think it should be, then backing off a little and also tightening a little.
Try positioning ligature closer to tip and closer to shank.
Try mouthpiece positioned further in your mouth as well as not as far. Try loosening lower lip until sound stops then slowly adding again until optimal.

For all of above there are no hard and fast rules. Most prefer reed at tip, ligature at middle and snug, but there are advocates of other adjustments, too. There is value in gaining a personal appreciation for how differences interplay. It's all part of the fun of playing sax!
 

Wade Cornell

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Good advice from all who have answered. My only difference is that I exclusively use synthetic reeds so don't take them off all the time. Maybe once every four plays. There is every reason to take a cane reed off as it can warp and needs to come off to be soaked before playing the next time anyway. Synthetic reeds don't (usually) warp and don't need soaking. It's just a matter of hygiene to clean off the reed and clean the mouthpiece once in a while. Same goes for the mouthpiece you use for cane reeds, you should clean it once ever four plays or more often if you're OCD.

The cap is designed to fit with the ligature in place, which doesn't necessarily have a reed in it.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,285
All advice above is good and Mandy pretty much nailed it all at the off.
David Sanborn once said in an interview that he takes the reed off to wipe it, then puts it back on the mouthpiece (still on the neck), wraps it in a duster and puts it down the bell of the sax.
Quite why the reed doesn't warp I don't know. We all know that leaving the mouthpiece on the cork isn't good either. I don't do it and I wouldn't advocate it. Apparently it's what he does though...
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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12,943
Each reed will want its own micro positioning. A little too soft adjust forward. A little too hard move it back.

Leaving a reed on a metal plated mouthpiece will cause the plating to stick to the reed and depart the mouthpiece. Not good.
The reed being an organic component is in a constant state of change. Saliva is digesting it. Starch can glue the reed to the mouthpiece reducing vibration.
Most reeds will warp if left on the mouthpiece. Allowing the reed to dry in a reed holder will usually prevent this and prolong longevity.

Cleanliness or the lack of it can seriously affect tone production. Cleaning the mouthpiece and reed should be part of every players regime.
 

jbtsax

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7,897
Each reed will want its own micro positioning. A little too soft adjust forward. A little too hard move it back.
I have found this to always be the case with traditional cane reeds, but with the Legere Signature reeds I play on my Jody Jazz Jet tenor mouthpiece the opposite is true---something I don't yet understand or have an explanation for. Perhaps @Pete Thomas could shed some light on this with his playing and mouthpiece expertise. ;)
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
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61
Thanks for all the responses and suggestions, much appreciated!
 

Rikki

Member
Messages
204
Good advice from all who have answered. My only difference is that I exclusively use synthetic reeds so don't take them off all the time. Maybe once every four plays. There is every reason to take a cane reed off as it can warp and needs to come off to be soaked before playing the next time anyway. Synthetic reeds don't (usually) warp and don't need soaking. It's just a matter of hygiene to clean off the reed and clean the mouthpiece once in a while. Same goes for the mouthpiece you use for cane reeds, you should clean it once ever four plays or more often if you're OCD.

The cap is designed to fit with the ligature in place, which doesn't necessarily have a reed in it.
With you there Wade I also use synthetic reeds (Legere Signature) exclusively. I take apart sax every time and clean every part , then put sax back together with reed in place (exactly as Mandy says - trying to 'measure' a small gap is a waste of time and compromises the versatility of the mouthpiece). BTW after a few years of leaving the mouthpiece on the sax (except of course when cleaning) there has been no discernible effect on the cork
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
61
The new reeds arrived today and I tried the Java red first. It felt a lot different to the 1.5 Juno. It took a while to get comfortable with more lip pressure needed. The tone is sooooooo different though, it has a warmth that the Juno doesn’t get close, I have found it slightly harder to start the really low notes cleanly (low B-C) but the higher octave notes sound much richer and are easier to articulate. I can see why a 1.5 for an absolute beginner is a good thing as they are very easy to start with but I think the advice given above and the change is worthwhile doing even after only a very short time. My friend who was the previous owner said he was never happy with the tone and I wonder how much of that was down to the reed now. I will try the others as I practice over the next few days and see how they compare.
 
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