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Reeds Reed strength

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Oh no, not reeds again, but I have received conflicting advice. Here's the thing. Firstly I need to apologise to Mr Trevor James 'cos I have been maligning his alto Revolution recently on account of the fact that it won't play properly. A quick trip to the Sax Doctor pointed out that it had been bashed a bit at the bottom and put the keys out of alignment. It's feeling a lot better now and the tone is pretty good.

However, I can't hit high F#. It sounds like an asthmaetic hyena. No problem on my tenor and I've tried contorting my embouchure in all different directions to gain the desired result. I know a bad workman blames his tools etc. but I was told at a recent residential course that harder reeds helps with high notes/alissimo but I've also read (here, I think from PT) that softer reeds are the way to go. I'm using Rico Jazz Selects 2M on a Meyer 5M.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Oh no, not reeds again, but I have received conflicting advice. Here's the thing. Firstly I need to apologise to Mr Trevor James 'cos I have been maligning his alto Revolution recently on account of the fact that it won't play properly. A quick trip to the Sax Doctor pointed out that it had been bashed a bit at the bottom and put the keys out of alignment. It's feeling a lot better now and the tone is pretty good.

However, I can't hit high F#. It sounds like an asthmaetic hyena. No problem on my tenor and I've tried contorting my embouture in all different directions to gain the desired result. I know a bad workman blames his tools etc. but I was told at a recent residential course that harder reeds helps with high notes/alissimo but I've also read (here, I think from PT) that softer reeds are the way to go. I'm using Rico Jazz Selects 2M on a Meyer 5M.

Any advice would be appreciated.
If you can't get high F# but most other things are okay then I'd suggest it's an air support issue (but I'm usually wrong). My temptation on the high notes is to squeeze the reed, which makes it easier but also pushes the note sharp. Keeping the embouchure relaxed requires better air support and helps keep the note in tune.

I'm easing myself down in reed strength from 3 to 2.5 which is helping me to increase my dynamics, and the texture I can lend each note. The lower notes are easier but the high notes require better air support to keep everything happy.

I hope this helps,

Chris
 

Lupifaro

Member
Messages
199
Location
Wales
Oh no, not reeds again, but I have received conflicting advice. Here's the thing. Firstly I need to apologise to Mr Trevor James 'cos I have been maligning his alto Revolution recently on account of the fact that it won't play properly. A quick trip to the Sax Doctor pointed out that it had been bashed a bit at the bottom and put the keys out of alignment. It's feeling a lot better now and the tone is pretty good.

However, I can't hit high F#. It sounds like an asthmaetic hyena. No problem on my tenor and I've tried contorting my embouchure in all different directions to gain the desired result. I know a bad workman blames his tools etc. but I was told at a recent residential course that harder reeds helps with high notes/alissimo but I've also read (here, I think from PT) that softer reeds are the way to go. I'm using Rico Jazz Selects 2M on a Meyer 5M.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Hi Lloyd Firstly your Meyer 5M and 2M reeds are a pretty combination:welldone Pete like a lot of players likes a wider tip opening and softer reeds for example Lee Goodall plays a Dukoff with a 92 tip and La Voz MS reeds and then you have the other end of the spectrum with Nathaniel Facey playing a Meyer 9:shocked:, 90 tip with Marca 4.5:confused: Why not try a 2H or even it may be time to move on to a 6M;}
How long have you been playing?
Good luck
birdman

www.studiosaxophones.co.uk
 
OP
Lloyd

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
I've been playing for around 14 months and practice for about an hour a day. I tend to play tenor 80% of the time and alto 20%, although I'm getting back into the alto a bit more now. My tenor set up is an Otto Link Tone Edge 6*, again with Rico Jazz Selects 2M and I'm happy with that.

I've found a place that is selling off reeds at £1 a throw as stock clearance so I've ordered 10 of different strengths, from 1.5 to 4 plus a couple of plasticovers. Mostly Vandoren 16s and La Voz. I'll share my findings with the forum as I know reeds can make a big difference.
 

Kesler

New Member
Messages
2
I play the alto sax.
I have been using number "2" vandoren reed for the past 3 years and i think i should try new reeds and experiment with some. I am in high school band and i consider myself decent at playing the alto sax. Which reed strength should i buy so i can play better quality music or which reed is more fit for me?

Additional Details

I play in the marching band and the concert band
I am also planning to buy vadoren reeds
If you know any better brands feel free to tell me :)
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
415
Location
Sydney, Australia
Honestly, I think it's a case of trying out a few of anything suitable in 2, 2.5, 3.

It'd be worthwhile checking out some the reed comparision charts out there ( http://www.saxplus.com/reed-strength-chart.html ) to find the rough group of equivalent strengths in the good brands. I'd try:

Rico orange box
Rico Royals
Rico Jazz Select
Hemke
LaVoz
Vandoren blue box
Vandoren Javas
Vandoren V12
Vandoren V16

It can be a long journey. For two years I was really comfortable on RJS 2M, Java 2.5, V12 2.5, Hemke 3 until I went to a Selmer C* and Berg 70/2 and so now I've moved up to Vandoren blue box 3, RJS 3S and LaVoz Med Hard… it took months and lots of reed buying. And I really only explored the reeds of Rico and Vandoren - there are other good brands but it seemed too expensive and difficult finding boutique brands :)

Simplest way may be just to buy a box of 2.5 Vandoren blue box and just try them?
Just open a few and try them once each over a week or too and see how they break in?
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,150
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
In my personal experience a lot of reed strength selection has to do with how hard you are willing to work with your air and embouchure. Harder reeds offer more blowing resistance than softer reeds. Softer reeds are more responsive on the lowest notes. Harder reeds make it easier to get a good tone on the highest notes. Everything is a tradeoff.

I try to select reeds that respond well in all registers, do not overly tax my embouchure, and allow for a large dynamic range. I think reed selection is a very personal thing and would hesitate to give advice except not to go to extremes like telling beginners to start on a #1 or that everyone's goal should be to work up to #4 1/2 as soon as possible.

I believe some players choose harder reeds to make up for a lack of embouchure control in order to sound better in the high register. My approach with students is to have them practice long tones on a medium strength reed. That way when the tone quality in the high register develops, their setup still allows playing softly throughout the entire range of the instrument.
 

Bobby G

Senior Member
Messages
4,989
Location
Wonderful Welwyn Garden City, Herts
Just as a rule of thumb, VanDoren reeds seem to come up a little harder than Rico, A VD 2 is probably about equivalent to a Rico 2.5. Then again, the Rico Jazz reeds are available in third strengths (soft, medium, hard) in each number which might give you a bit more flexibility. But like the man says, just get hold of some of each and see what suits. It's usually best to get hold of 2 or 3 of each reed as 'identical' reeds will often have differences.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Bottom line is - "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

What mouthpiece are you using?
What's wrong at the moment?
What are you trying to achieve - brighter/darker etc. ?

Vandoren's (traditional - blue packet) tend to be half a strength harder than most other reeds - so a Rico 2.5 is about the same. Gonig up half a strength may improve your tone, but if you go too hard, you'll lose the low notes. You could try jazz cut reeds e.g. Rico Jazz Select 3S.

But beware of throwing away what you've got already... Be prepared to stick to what's working for you.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,789
Location
McLean, Virginia
I have merged the two threads, please note the forum rules, no cross posting. One was posted in the tech support area which is the wrong subforum anyway.
 

Kesler

New Member
Messages
2
Thanks for all the replys, i think i will first try the vandoren blue box 2.5 and will try others if possible.
Thanks for the suggestions
 

Lesley

Senior Member
Messages
1,623
Location
Shelley Beach South Africa
As a virtual sax beginner can someone enlighten me as to when a step up on a reed will be? I'm presently using a Rico 2 and feel I'm hearing a 'tinny' sound. Would a harder reed help? Thankyou
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,474
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
Do not think of the numbers on reeds as a measure of accomplishment. They are their for comparison and continuity. So you can buy the same or try a step up or down.

I play a 2.5 or a 3 on alto with a quite closed mouthpiece, and have done for decades.

Some 3's are softer than some 2.5's of the same make. And some are just different in the same packet.

By all means try a step up or a different cut or a different make or a different coloured packet but buy in small amounts till you're happy. Amazon and ebay have packs of 3. Some retailers will make you up a mixed box of 10. Dawkes is it?

In general

If you can close off the reed when playing loudly then try a harder reed.
If it's easy at the bottom and awkward at the top try a step up.
If it's the other way round, easy at the top and difficult at the bottom then come down a step.

Small tip openings are easier with harder reeds and large tip openings are easier with softer reeds.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,150
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
When your tone resembles a "kazoo" or comb and tissue----especially in the high register. it is time to move up a 1/2 strength. A lot depends upon the tip opening of the mouthpiece. How long have you played, and what mouthpiece are you using?
 

Lesley

Senior Member
Messages
1,623
Location
Shelley Beach South Africa
When your tone resembles a "kazoo" or comb and tissue----especially in the high register. it is time to move up a 1/2 strength. A lot depends upon the tip opening of the mouthpiece. How long have you played, and what mouthpiece are you using?
I've been playing for 4 weeks and am using a Yamaha 4c mp.
 
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