Reeds - no two are the same

SuSax

New Member
Messages
9
Location
Witzenhausen, Germany
Hi guys,
how is it with these reeds, I´m getting a bit frustrated sometimes when I have to put on a new one and it´s ****ty compared to the one I just used before. I´m using Vandoren Jazz 2 1/2, I found I liked them the most. But every reed is different, some sound like a sirene and I want to throw them away right away and then I may find a Rico one sounds better than a ****ty Vandoren. So it seems it´s just luck when I pick a reed in the store with a sound I like (like smooth or whatever). Is that the way it is or is it just me having to learn to adapt to the personality of every single reed?!

and a nice or bad sound kind of determines 80 % of my practicing motivation ...:( :confused:

susi
 

Phil Edwards

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
Location
East Sussex
It is an eternal problem, I guess. They are a natural material and so there will be some variability.

Personally I find Vandoren Java to be one of the more reliable reeds, previously was using Rico Royal which were getting very expensive with the number that I found unusable. I switched to Rico Jazz Select and they were much better, but started to go off a bit and am currently on the Vandorens.

To an extent it depends a bit on how keen you are to try and break in a hard reed. Some take a bit of work but are worth it.

Phil
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,407
Location
Daventry
Try a Hahn synthetic reed. One will cost you the same as a box of Javas, but it will last forever. Actually, I agree about Javas - I have always found them to be a very reliable brand. You might find that as you get more playing hours under your belt, you will adapt better to the vagaries of different reeds. I used to chuck half a box away - now I just get on and play them.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
Try a Rico Plasticover.
I've been using them for decades, finding a bad reed in a box is such a rare occurance that I really can't remember when it last happened.
You might hate them - but if you like them it could mean your reed problems are over.

Regards,
 

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
I think I must be so crap at playing that I just don't notice good/bad reeds.

Some times I have a reed in for weeks without really thinking about it and I look at it and it looks like I've used it to scrape ice off my windscreen but it still sounds the same.

Maybe I should pay more attention to my reeds:confused:

mamos
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
Hell no - if you're not a martyr to reeds now then for heaven's sake don't do anything that might turn you into one!

I get 'em out, whip 'em on and play 'em until they give up the ghost - then I chisel them off the mouthpiece and put a new one on. If anything reaches up out of the mouthpiece and grabs me by the throat, I give the mouthpiece a wash.
I don't even bin the old ones, once they're through gigging they see further use as workbench piece reeds.

Regards,
 
OP
S

SuSax

New Member
Messages
9
Location
Witzenhausen, Germany
Thanks, some good hints from you guys! though very different comments too, interesting!
reeds seem to be a very personal thing eh. Show me your reed and I tell you what kind of person you are ;}

synthetic reeds, hm, didn´t know about that

Mamos - really, your reed doesn´t actually SOUND like scraping ice off your windscreen or so when it looks like it?!

But no, so far I can not see myself playing just any reed I put on, it´s too frustrating, it´s like once you´ve had this beautiful sound coming out, you always want it.

Susi
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,626
Location
Rugby UK
I get 'em out, whip 'em on and play 'em until they give up the ghost - then I chisel them off the mouthpiece and put a new one on. If anything reaches up out of the mouthpiece and grabs me by the throat, I give the mouthpiece a wash.

Regards,
I'm so glad that someone with your credentials does exactly what I do :w00t:

I guess I must be doing something right then! :)))

Ps, I rarely have a bad reed and I'm on Vandorans as well. ;}
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
Try a Hahn synthetic reed. One will cost you the same as a box of Javas, but it will last forever. Actually, I agree about Javas - I have always found them to be a very reliable brand. You might find that as you get more playing hours under your belt, you will adapt better to the vagaries of different reeds. I used to chuck half a box away - now I just get on and play them.
Couldn't agree more with this one Bill, I've been using them exclusively since2000.

ciao
Jimu:mrcool
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
I'm so glad that someone with your credentials does exactly what I do :w00t:

I guess I must be doing something right then! :)))

Ps, I rarely have a bad reed and I'm on Vandorans as well. ;}
What makes it even better is that clients will often compliment me on my tone when I'm play-testing their horns. If they then go on to complain about duff reeds, problems with warping, the drudgery of looking after them etc., I show them the warped, chipped, often split old Plasticover on the mouthpiece I just used.

You'd think all pros treat their reeds with care, but quite a lot of respectable players don't even take the mouthpiece of the crook when they're through playing...never mind the reed off the mouthpiece.

Regards,
 

Howard Long

Member
Messages
51
Location
London
You mean you can take the mouthpiece off?

Seriously, interesting tales.

This is going to be one of those times where you ask three saxophonists what they do with their reeds and you'll get three different answers, possibly one of them to do with the alignment of the planets and a sacrificial goat.

The main reason that I disassemble the crook, mouthpiece, ligature and reed is to clean the sax and its accessories, hopefully in an effort to reduce sticky pad syndrome. Oh, and it's what Candy Dulfer says... grrrrrrrr.

Occasionally I'm a bad, bad boy and leave it setup all night, but don't tell Candy.

In the past couple of months I've been switching between Rico Jazz Selects 2M/2H and Plasticover 2.5/3 depending on how my whim takes me: I like the sound of the Jazz Selects, but the practicality of the Plasticovers in preparation (ie, nothing) hits the instant gratification button.

How long should these Plasticovers last? I am still rotating, just as I do with normal reeds, like I've been told. Is this an old wive's tale or something that's not important with Plasticovers?

Cheers, Howard
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
797
Location
Studham Bedfordshire
What a can o'worms. You know yesterday i had a long session on the sax over two hours, i must have changed reed about six times. Not my normal routine as i have been using Alexander superials which were great but they all seem to have given up the ghost, went ont to some rico jazz selects 2H and 2M's i had, so squeaky, yet a few months back they sounded great. Put on my Rico Royals 3's. Good but a bit hard to blow. ( i bought them when i thought i was better than i was!! WRONG... )
I do use a Hahn synthetic in my band, so easy to blow and loud, but not very good good for nice controlled ballads. I also have a plasticover which to be honest i need to play a bit more.
It was just one of those sessions. I know next time i will just whack on a 2.5 Alexander or Rico Royal and play for hours or days with the same reed, no problem.
So good luck. I'm sure we all go through the same things at various stages. You wait and see in a few months you'll be on the road to mouth piece nirvana. I'm sure you will find a few stragglers who are still on that road!! :w00t: Phil
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
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KIC 8462852
Couple of questions about reeds while we're on the subject.
Should you accept that some reeds are unplayable? I've just got a pack of 3 rico and one of them is obviously cut poorly, it can be played but is obviously 'unfit for purpose'. So that is 1/3 of the cost wasted. Has anyone tried complaining to retailer or manufacturer and asking for a refund or do you just get the answer 'they are reeds - go away'?
On a technical note, what is the difference between unfiled and french filed in shape and performance and are there other 'filed' shapes?
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
How long should these Plasticovers last? I am still rotating, just as I do with normal reeds, like I've been told. Is this an old wive's tale or something that's not important with Plasticovers?

Cheers, Howard
I've never rotated reeds, I just pop one on and use it until it gives out.

As for how long they last...
Well, I turned to P/covers because I was getting through two reeds a gig, and found that they lasted considerably longer. That's about as accurate as I can be!

I also tend to use a reed a strength harder than I want.
For example, a P/cover 4 straight out of the box blows instantly for me, but after half an hour or so it's lost a bit of its strength and will start to close up when I really push it. So, I start with a 5 and 'wrestle' with it for half an hour or so - at which point it settles down to a 4 and stays there.
The problem I have is getting hold of strength 5 p/covers.

Regards,
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
I know, it does rather conjure up a picture of Desperate Dan, with a sax in one hand and a cow pie in the other. It's not so far from the truth - well, the pie bit anyway.

It's all down to the lay of the mouthpiece. The longer it is, the more leverage you have, and thus the harder the reed you can use.
I use a Dukoff D8 for my gigging piece - but if I put a new 5 P/cover on my testbench piece I very much doubt I'd get a note out of it.
Once the reed is dead on the gigging piece it's probably down to about strength 3 - at which point it works a treat on the testbench piece.


Regards,
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Cafe Moderator
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12,347
Location
The Blue Ridge Mountains
One problem is that reeds can change a lot within the first 5 to 20 minutes. I guess this is why some people do all the soaking and sanding.

Although I advocate reed preparing on the site, I am often too lazy and just put a reed on, if it doesn't play it goes into the reed 101 drawer, probably never to surface.

But sometimes if a reed is great, then goes a bit off after 15 minutes or so, I find it sin't because it's getting softer or bent, often it's because the flat surface that should be held flat against the table of the mouthpiece has swollen a bit due to wetness, and so it's no longer flat against the table.

A very quick solution (which won't do any harm even if that isn't the problem, is to flatten the surface of the reed (again if you actually did bother to prep the reed), by scraping with a blade. I use a Stanley blade but I'm sure there' a dedicated reed knife you can get.

Often this will bring that reed back to life.

However I don't do this with plasticovers as it would remove the plastic, although theoretically you shouldn't get this problem as the reeds are sealed in plastic so shouldn't swell due to wetness.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,505
Location
UK
That's why I don't take reeds off between changes.
It sounds very unpleasant, but the gunk that gets under the reed will seal off any holes.

Regards,
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,992
Location
Just north of Munich
Would a flexible semi-permanent adhesive sort the sealing problems out? Something like denture fixative. Maybe one of the members with falsies can try it out.... >:)
 
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