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M/Pieces - Ligs Tenor mouthpiece not satisfiying me...

Bobby G

Bobby G

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A question for Mr Ian Half-diminished...

What is the 'Alexander' method for breaking in new reeds?
 
TomMapfumo

TomMapfumo

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Newer players swear by it.......Older players swear at it (takes absolutely ages, apparently, and reeds should just play straight from the box, with a 15 second covering in spit;}).

Its what I use and they do seem to last ages as a result....but what do I know - it would be useful to do a comparison over a 6 month period, but that would take so long, you wouldn't have time to play the thing.......!:w00t::w00t:
 
half diminished

half diminished

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What is the 'Alexander' method for breaking in new reeds?

Sorry, been a bit busy but I see the question was answered...... though here is the actual page/instruction. I won't be breaking in reeds any other way from here in.

Newer players swear by it.......Older players swear at it (takes absolutely ages, apparently, and reeds should just play straight from the box, with a 15 second covering in spit;}).

Its what I use and they do seem to last ages as a result....but what do I know - it would be useful to do a comparison over a 6 month period, but that would take so long, you wouldn't have time to play the thing.......!:w00t::w00t:

I have to say it's been a revelation for me. I now have 3 brilliant reeds on the go and my sound is awesome (well for me in comparison to before). I wouldn't say it takes that long. Here is a quote from the Alexander site:


"Breaking In A New Reed

We suggest that you break the reeds in by first soaking them for about 2-4 minutes in lukewarm to warm water, and making sure that the whole vamp, and not just the tip alone, gets wet (a reed that is too dry or only wet at the very tip might tend to squeak). Some players, especially in dry weather, prefer a little more soaking time and a some others like immersing the whole reed in the water. Then again, if you soak it for too long, it may end up becoming waterlogged, so try a balanced approach. And make sure you wet the reed each succeeding time you play thereafter, though you may find that as it gets broken in, less soaking time will be necessary.

After the soaking is operation is done, place the reed you want to prepare on glass or a similar flat surface and massage it (starting from the back of the vamp slope) with your finger or fingers several strokes forward towards the tip, in order to help close off the fiber ends and stabilize the cane.

Then comes the break-in secret, which is certainly no original idea of mine, but a time tested practice for reed longevity:

Break in the reeds you prepare by only playing them at no louder than mp-m and for the first day only a few minutes and maybe 5-10 minutes the second day.

By breaking them in at mezzo or softer and for not too long in the first couple of days, the reeds should last longer and be more stable for full bore playing later. Playing them all out in fortissimo from the first 2 days might overstress the tips.

The exception to the break in is: If the new reed you try feels a good bit too hard, you can skip the break in period and just play in normally from the first day.

A tendency of these reeds is to harden a little after a few days of playing, so you may find a slightly softer reed that will end up being perfect in a few days after break in. If you find a reed that is too hard even if you skip the break in."




And the finally, customising the reed..........



"Customizing Your Reed

If your reed feels too hard or too soft from the first time you play it or it isn't cut with perfect symmetry, don't throw it away, it may well be saved!

For softening reeds:

Here is a trick that Joe Henderson showed me years ago which really works and saved me many reed both in practice sessions and on live gigs:

With the reed wet and ligatured to the mouthpiece, press firmly a few times with your thumb on the middle and rear slope area of the reed to help loosen up the fibers a bit and make it less resistant.

This will take you some practice to perfect because if you press too firmly, you will get a reed with too little resistance and possibly end up taking the spring and life out of it and if too lightly, you won't feel any change. Try a press or two, play it, and try again if need be.

Once you master this operation by feeling the right amount and number of presses it takes, it may well be worth it once you see the results..


Other methods:

The traditional alternative to this is using "Dutch" or reed rush, a reed knife or sandpaper. Dutch rush can work very well on the vamp of a reed that feels too hard or stiff. The advantage of this rush is that you can take material off in very slight increments, test the reed and then see if it needs more, so it provides you some safety from not overdoing it . You can also use light to heavy grit sandpaper on top of glass (depending on how much you want to take off), working the table of the reed in circles with not too much hand pressure as this method, or taking material off with a reed knife takes a good amount of skill and touch or you may end up over-softening your reed to the point that it will be unplayable.

For hardening reeds:

Hardening reeds may be more difficult to do than softening them and the most widely and traditionally used method for this has been reed clipping. The trick here it to start by taking as little material off the tip of the reed with the clipper as you can, so you don't over do it and cut so much that the reed dimensions have changed considerably and it now becomes stiff and loses some of its vibrational characteristics. Some other players try burning the reed tip to harden it which may work well enough in a pinch, though the results usually don't last long and if you aren't careful, you might end up with a piece of useless firewood!

General Customization of Reeds:

There are several good books out on the subject of reed customizing and some work here can go a long way in giving you performance even more tailored to your own particular needs. We believe that we are giving you an excellent product to work with as our reeds perform and last as well or better than any brand we know of, but a little extra customizing can't hurt. For example, as it is impossible to get perfectly cut reeds in the large runs we do, if one side at the back of the vamp has a little more bark than the other, or if you prefer a flared "V" or "U" shape here, adjustments with a reed knife or retractable cutter can easily be made. However we firmly believe that the way a reed looks does not necessarily correspond to how it will play as some unevenly cut reeds can very well play better than perfectly balanced looking ones and visa versa. The real test for this is simple...how it actually plays.

Some other players seem to like drilling a hole at the back of the vamp (though one maker years ago had a model made this way and it didn't last very long, probably because this tends to take some of the life and "spring out of the reed") and others even prefer using a Tenor sax reed on their Alto, for example. While we intentionally designed our models to be used specifically for their corresponding mouthpiece models, in the end whatever works best for you is what you should use."
 
Pee Dee

Pee Dee

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Dorset
Unfortunately the other mouthpiece will now be relegated to the drawer and will no doubt not see the light of day for a long while, but never mind, I really am so much happier with my new mouthpiece. So that’s that, I’m sorted... aren’t I? >:)
[/I]

Now, would that be the JJ in the drawer? Hmmmmm, interesting:mrcool
My Java is the T95 with a .110" opening, maybe you would like to try it to compare.
Maybe we could meet for a duet? Could swap notes on the tenors and maybe learn something?

Pete
 
Chris98

Chris98

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1,086
Now, would that be the JJ in the drawer? Hmmmmm, interesting:mrcool
My Java is the T95 with a .110" opening, maybe you would like to try it to compare.
Maybe we could meet for a duet? Could swap notes on the tenors and maybe learn something?

Pete

Pete,

You're disgraceful, the mouthpiece has hardly had time to see the inside of my drawer and you're already casting your eye over it :shocked:

Don't worry, I've cleaned it up and was going to bring it along to the next SaxPak and let you borrow it for a bit, that is if you wanted to give it a go ;}

I'm sure your Java is changing size, I could have sworn it was a T75!

Take care,

Chris
 
Pee Dee

Pee Dee

Member
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422
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Dorset
Pete,

You're disgraceful, the mouthpiece has hardly had time to see the inside of my drawer and you're already casting your eye over it :shocked:

Don't worry, I've cleaned it up and was going to bring it along to the next SaxPak and let you borrow it for a bit, that is if you wanted to give it a go ;}

I'm sure your Java is changing size, I could have sworn it was a T75!

Take care,

Chris

Disgraceful? Me? Naaahhh.
Yep, you're right, a T75, works great with a soft reed (Java 2).
Ok, see you Tuesday, if SaxPak is back on by then, would love to try it.
Pete
 

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