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Reeds RFC on the life and care of cane reeds

randulo

Second grade, but not second rate!
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(RFC= Request for Comments)
There are many discussions here on the café of the different reeds, i.e., cane, synthetics, Plasticover,... and plenty on moving to a higher strength or choosing the brand, or strength (which varies with each reed manufacturer, obviously). What I would like to know is your experiences on reed care and reed life, specifically cane reeds.

I'd like to know your takes on

- how long a cane reed typically lasts for you
- what you do with it during a practice or performance day
- what you do overnight or between practice days
- how to see if a reed is in bad shape by looking at it

My experience is this. I usually leave the reed in over a few hours if I put the sax on a stand, but always try to remember to remove it, even if I leave the sax in the stand rather than the case, overnight I gently wipe the excess "moisture" off with my thumb and forefinger, and put the reed back in the plastic thing it came in (Vandorens). Often a reed will feel like it is going soft after two hours of practice, but sometimes it just moved a tiny bit to one side on the mouthpiece. I find that alignment very sensitive to the sound. I've heard from a famous player that some people actually place the reed to one side to get their signature sound!
Examining the reed, if it isn't straight, that is, if it looks like a slight ruffle in it at the tip, it's dead, right? Is there some agreed upon way, like putting it flat on a surface?

And finally, what if 90% of my questions about a reed feeling right when you play it are psychological?

Any input appreciated!
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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1,220
Location
Hampshire
I've recently switched back from Legere Signature Reeds and I'm using Vandoren Red 2 1/2

I keep 3 in a Reed Juvinator. I rotate every day or two. I'm rubbish at looking after them and regularly leave them on the mouthpiece. The next day they are dried and the tip is ruffled or slightly mishapen. I simply give them a suck and put them back in the Reed Juviantor. I don't consider them to be dead when they are like this as they come out of it just fine.

I don't know how long they generally last as I don't keep a tab. The reeds I've got in the Reed Juvinator at the moment have been in there at least a couple of Months, but I've not been able to play much during that time.

I don't work on reeds if they start to die. If I leave them after the sound starts to go and come back to them and they still sound off, they go.
 
OP
randulo

randulo

Second grade, but not second rate!
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After seeing your reco and reading a review, I ordered one. I'm an easy sell.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
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3,250
Location
leicester
- how long a cane reed typically lasts for you - it's been a long while since I used a cane reed, but about a month

- what you do with it during a practice or performance day - wet it, put it on the mouthpiece, play it and leave it where it is

- what you do overnight or between practice days - leave it on the mouthpiece

- how to see if a reed is in bad shape by looking at it - there isn't any way to tell just by looking at it. I've had reeds that looked badly cut that played ok and reeds that looked perfect that didn't play very well.
Every so often you get one that no matter how much you scrape, file and adjust it it will not play properly and yet there's no visible difference between it and any other reed. I've read things in books about holding a reed up to the light and checking the evenness of the fibres etc but in my experience that's no predictor of the playability of a reed

When I started out I was aware of all the fussing over reeds that some sax players do and was determined to avoid all that since I knew one day all I'd have would be a bad reed and inevitably that'd be just before a gig when the shops are shut. So I learnt to play on any old reed and not be bothered if one reed didn't play quite as well as another or if the tip was a bit split. All reeds are mediocre.
Very rarely I'd get a reed that played really well but it'd never last. A reed can play well one day and badly the next, that's just inherent in using cane reeds.
For me personally the answer was to use synthetic reeds, but that's not something a lot of people would go for cos they don't like the sound of them. I've never found that reeds affect my sound - it's me that makes my sound. Perhaps learning to play any old reed has trained my embouchure to exert more control than needed.
 

scotsman

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194
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none
FWIW Here is my latest reed saga. ..I started on alto and used Vandoren.. Nice reeds. Then moved onto Rico Royal Jazz 2 medium.. Great reeds..I found they lasted weeks with no real care. They played well "Popped" well and basically had no problems. I moved onto tenor and here the problems started. I still played Rico Royal Jazz. 2 medium. they were great but only lasted a couple of weeks. I play every day BTW.. Shortly after Daddario took over Rico I (and various other tenor players) started having serious problems. Basically they might not last for a performance. The sound fell off VERY quickly. The "Pop" disappeared. The solution was to use a new reed. They were very variable. You might come across 1 reed in a box which was fine for a while and the rest (no matter how we doctered them) were not too good . Putting it mildly..After a coule of month of effort trying to solve this I moved back to Vandoren 2 1/2 and for the last month they have been really excellent. Daddario are good reeds when they work and it could just be me of course!!..Strangely enough the Alto Jazz Daddario jazz reeds are fine!! Regards
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,771
Location
Manchester, UK
- how long a cane reed typically lasts for you
Depends how you play and how long for.
Baritone reeds seem to last longer for me (in terms of playing hours. than clarinet or sop reeds.
I generally get a few months out of my bari reeds, rotating three .at a time and playing about an hour a day on avarage.
- what you do with it during a practice or performance day
Slap it on the mouthpiece and play. Reedjuvinate keeps them moist so they play OK straight away.
- what you do overnight or between practice days
Reedjuvinate.
- how to see if a reed is in bad shape by looking at it
If it's got an obvious chip out of it, or it looks like it might be getting mouldy, I chuck it. Otherwise, I can't tell until I play it.
I use these. I like the system, but the manufacturing quality could be better. The holders don't grip l;ike they used to and the magnets were going rusty so I've binned them. Would be interested is a similar system that was more robust and/or could hold more reeds. Also, no good for anyone who can't use alcohol.
Yes. I've run out of Listerine, so the little sponge is soaked in Vodka...
Yes, I'm working through a bottle of cheap vodka someone brought to a party years ago. Much less unpleasant flavour than Listerine.
 
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Halfers

Finger Flapper
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1,220
Location
Hampshire
Yes, I'm working through a bottle of cheap vodka someone brought to a party years ago. Much less unpleasant flavour than Listerine.
Same here. My Wife keeps getting bottles of Vodka from work at Christmas! Neither of us drink it, so it should keep the Reedjuvinate going for a while!

I have found that sometimes the plastic reed protectors come apart and I've damaged a couple of reed tips because of this. Also, if you push the reed too far into the holders, it's difficult to get the reed back out without damaging it. Otherwise it's a pretty simple system of storing Reeds.
 

Dave E

Member
Messages
123
Location
Leicester
When I last used cane reeds they were good for between 4 to 8 weeks usually. I cleaned them at the end of the day and stored them in vodka between times. Then I started introducing altisimmo and harmonic stuff into my practice plus increased my time on the instruments, which shortened the reed life. Then I moved to Fibracell and Legere reeds which I get on OK with and they last longer.
 
OP
randulo

randulo

Second grade, but not second rate!
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Location
France
I guess, too, it depends on how much you play that particular reed. I've said it many times, but when I practice, same horn, mouthpiece, same reed, significant difference in feel and sound from one session to the next. All mental, apparently, with an embouchure that isn't stable, perhaps. I just passed my 18 month "anniversary".
 

ReedJuvinate

New Member
Messages
1
Location
Edmonton
Hello all - As the manufacturer of ReedJuvinate, I just wanted you to know:

i) if the reeds have "stretched" the clip and you want them to hold more tightly, just flip the clip upside down and reinsert

ii) we have solved the magnet issue - each ReedJuvinate now ships with a magnet completely enclosed in a tiny plastic "zip-lock" bag

Let me know if you have any questions at all -

John Mackey, ReedJuvinate designer (www.reedjuvinate.com and john@reedjuvinate.com)

Thanks!
 
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