Reeds Reed Variance

Pegwill

Member
Messages
56
Hi Guys

I've been reading a lot about reed variance and that there will only be so many good ones in a box. My first question is how will I know which ones are good or bad?

The second question is given that I've only been playing for about a month and I'm trying to get some consistancy if I use a Fibracell or plactic cover will this help eliminate any variance due to the reed, removing the doubt that the reed might not be as good as it could be and allow me to concentrate on playing.

Many thanks

Bill
 

Mikec

Member
Messages
201
Location
Buckinghamshire, UK
A "bad" reed is one that you don't like! It's an entirely subjective thing (assuming the reed's not actually damaged). Some people can pick up virtually any reed and play it without comment, others, like me, are always struggling to find a "good" one (in my case that means a very responsive, easy blowing reed. Others like a very hard reed). A Fibracell reed will certainly be a "good" reed. When you have more experience you will be able to decide whether you want to try again with natural reeds or continue with the artificial one. If you know someone else who plays sax, you can ask them to select what they consider a good one and try that; it may not suit you, but it will be some kind of benchmark. Try not to get too hung up on reeds; that way lies madness and despair!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Get a reed case (such as La Voz). Put 4 reeds in it and number them. Play each in turn. You'll soon find which ones you prefer, which give easier low notes, high notes, less buzzing/squeaking and so on. Make sure you're consistent with putting the reeds on the mouthpiece. Ligature position and adjustment, reed position, make a big difference as well.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,983
Location
The Athens of The North
I use Rico Royals and find them to be consistent. Rico Orange Box or Rico Royals strength 1.5 would be a good place for you to start. The bad reeds simply don't sing and that is how we know the difference. Enjoy your sax.

Jim.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
697
I have found little variation in Rico Royals. Orange Ricos seem to have a greater tendency to vary. In my case it seems to be that sometimes they are a little too hard. A slight going-over near the tip with a fine emery board usually fixes that. I have now ordered a couple of Fibracell reeds for the tenor. For the bari I use Legere or Rico Royal. Both seem to be very good.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
697
My Fibracell reed for the tenor has now arrived. I have played it for about four hours, and these are my impressions. Don't take too much notice of them, as they are sure to change. I normally use Ricos, Rico Royals and, more rarely, Vandorens.

First, it is quite possible that I hit inadvertently upon the right strength for me. Playing has never been so easy. The resistance seems to have largely gone. This is quite disconcerting at first. Fast passages are easier to do. Intervals also seem to be easier to manage. The low notes speak even more easily, but I thought that once or twice there was a wobble in the very high notes.

One change is particularly noticeable. Middle D, more rarely high G, sometimes used to jump to the higher harmonic. Paul Harvey explains in his book on the saxophone why this happens. whatever the explanation, it didn't happen once in the few hours I used the Fibracell.

Finally, when I played it the first time round, I thought the sound was noticeably different. That impression had vanished when I picked up the instrument again.

So, the experience has been positive so far. But whether it was the Fibracell or merely a new reed remains to be seen
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Have been trying to wade through 'The Saxophone Reed' by Ray Reed (sic). Had never heard of him, but he's an alto player with excellent credentials.

The book's home written, no professional editing, and it shows. There's no index. In places the detail is superb, in others very necessary detail is missing. For instance although he discusses the types of reed knife in enough detail that you can go into a reed knife shop and ask to see them and be familiar with the names, he doesn't say what makes a V shaped blade V shaped. Or mention that V shaped baldes are handed. The words on how to use the knife are very brief, and would be mush better with a few photos. But in compensation there's and excellent section on meansuring reed thickness. However the gaps/sketchy areas seems to be easy to fill in from other sources - you tube is good, especially if you expend your search to cover clarinet reed adjustment. And the detail in his own thoughts is really good.

However if you're prepared to wade through and make a lot of notes - and do the external research to fill in the gaps, it seems to be very good. There's a lot in there about the structure of the (finished) reed, how the parts interact and affect the sound/playability, how to adjust the reed to suit your style and how the different mods affect playability. Also on reed/cane variation. And possibly more important, how reeds change as they're played, during the break in period. But be aware - this is a guy who spends a lot of time making each reed absolutley perfect..... He starts with hard reeds and plays/breaks them in/adjusts them until they're just what he needs.

Haven't even begun to put it into practice yet - am going to finish the book then go through again and make notes.
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
Have been trying to wade through 'The Saxophone Reed' by Ray Reed (sic). .......

He starts with hard reeds and plays/breaks them in/adjusts them until they're just what he needs.

Haven't even begun to put it into practice yet - am going to finish the book then go through again and make notes.
.
I've just had a quick look at that book on Amazon, 'Amazing' How can there be so much to write about a reed, I would never of believed it, but the last part of your post says it for me, 'adjusts until its just what he needs'... If you don't have lots of playing experience how do you know what you need? I see a potential minefield here and I would suggest that anyone without relevant experience ought to stick with a decent quality propriety reed.


I had a spell of 'loving' the fibracel, but went of it and now I never use it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
I've just had a quick look at that book on Amazon, 'Amazing' How can there be so much to write about a reed, I would never of believed it, but the last part of your post says it for me, 'adjusts until its just what he needs'... .
Not just that, it's the differences in individual ones, where the differences come from, how each part of the reed affects playing.... How to correct problems in the shop reeds, how to adjust the reeds as they change. How changes in the reeds affect pitch, timbre.... And there's a section at the back on Stan Getz' reeds, Pat Reed's career and some photos, as well as a marrative of how he developed his theories.
If you don't have lots of playing experience how do you know what you need? I see a potential minefield here and I would suggest that anyone without relevant experience ought to stick with a decent quality propriety reed.
Tend to agree, but I'm an inquisitive sort and want to know how these things work. And the 'decent quality' reeds are nowhere near consistent in the way they play - something I never believed until I experienced it first hand. Why does one reed play well, and the next not?
 

AlanU

Member
Messages
628
Location
Enfield, North London
It is a subject where it is very difficult to convey ones experience. It is like you have to find it for yourself.
There are, however, some helpful videos on You-tube, most notably by Rico reeds, where experienced players pass on their 'tricks'.

Good luck
 
Top Bottom