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Reeds The Reed Journey

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
This has probably been addressed to death, but I'm just curious.

Do you typically move up in reed strength leaving the softer reeds in your past as you progress?

Or do you continue to use different strength reeds for various different types of music?
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,989
I've had a sax lesson tonight and we sort of discussed this. My teacher is also a clarinet player. He had lessons from Jack Brymer, who apparently played (clarinet) on nothing more than a 1.5. I remember hearing him live back in about 1980 - fabulous player with a fab sound.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I think most of us move up as we progress, the harder reeds help with tone and higher notes. But don't go too far. Hits the low notes and makes laying harder. Softer reeds for bigger tip openings...
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
I think most of us move up as we progress, the harder reeds help with tone and higher notes. But don't go too far. Hits the low notes and makes laying harder. Softer reeds for bigger tip openings...

And then come back down again?......... Ref. Mr. Thomas :thumb:
And also that Mr. Tom Ridenour >:)>:)>:)>:)>:)>:)

John :):):):):):)>:)
 
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baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Somebody with a surprisingly "soft" set up was Michael Brecker. La Voz medium reeds ( like a Rico 2 or 2.5) and a Guardala with a pretty closed tip. He got more power and flexibility out of that setup than I could dream of.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I started on a 2, then went to 2.5, then stayed between them ever since. All depends on tip opening, for me. The hardest reed I have played is Marca 3, V16 2.5, RJS 3S; softest are Superial 2, Francois Louis 2.

Not felt any macho call to go harder and harder.........
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Well, as a neophyte saxophonist I'm still learning about the whole reed thing. By the amount of reed discussions I see, I imagine this is a never-ending journey for some. Although others seem to have settled into a situation they like and just focus on music instead of reeds, which is probably the best path to take in the end.

I started with #2 American cut La Vos reeds, only because I had no clue what I was doing and this seemed like a reasonable place to start. However, in the early going I was having difficulty controlling the reed in terms of finesse, especially when trying to play softly. It kept "dropping out" earlier than I wanted, especially when trying to play lingering notes that end softly.

So moved to #1.5 Rico Royal reeds, which also happen to be "French Cut". At the time I wasn't even aware of these two different "cuts" of reeds. In any case, the softer reeds made a world of difference and I suddenly had far more control over soft playing. I'm not sure if this was due just to the soft reed, or possibly also because it was French cut as opposed to American cut?

That was some time ago. Recently I got the La Vos #2 American cut reeds back out and started playing them. Now that I have gained more experience I'm able to play these harder reeds with far more control. I haven't really had time to experiment much going back and forth between the softer and harder reeds, I am hoping to do that over time to see if I can really start to feel a difference between them.

But now I'm also wondering if the fact that one is American cut, and the other French cut that this might also be a factor?

So I'm just at the 'tip' of my journey into reed exploration in terms of learning what characteristic I might actually look for in choosing reeds.

Now that I'm playing these #2 reeds I'm thinking about potentially buying some #3 reeds just to see what they are like?

But then that nagging question comes up? Should I buy American or French cut? Will there be a noticeable difference?

I have no clue what I'm doing. I'm stabbing in the dark at the eternal mysteries of reed refinement.

Maybe I should buy some #2 French cut reeds and see if I can tell any difference between them and these #2 American cut reeds?

If I can't tell the difference, then maybe I need to keep playing until I can tell the difference?

Or maybe the difference is mythological and it's just a smokey dragon that manufactures use to get people to buy more reeds?

Have you (anyone) recognized a significant difference between American cut and French cut reeds of the same strengths?

Is it even worth going there in terms of experimentation for a beginner (say 1 year into the sax)?

Or would the difference be so subtle that only a master of the sax would be able to truly appreciate it?
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
I use a very soft reed - jazz select 2S on my Grafonite B3, I've tried harder strengths but can't get on with them as I lose the use of my lip very quickly! :shocked: I can play a whole gig with my 2s no problem (mind you I am a weakling!) :thumb:
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Thanks Tom.

I just now realized, the La Voz I have are Mediums. I was thinking they are #2.0 but evidently these are #2.5. So they are a bit harder than I had initially thought. That's interesting.

I can definitely tell the difference between the Rico Royal #1.5 and these La Vos Mediums #2.5.

The La Vos do seem to allow me to have more "power" and faster response than the Rico Royals. So I guess that's what comes from a harder reed.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Harder reeds will give you more volume on the same piece.

If you're unsure about the cut, try the same strength/make in the other cut.

Me, I love the RJS filed. 2H on alto and 2M on tenor.
 

nlancaster

Member
Messages
36
For me it's more about the reed, mouthpiece ligature combo. If I use an open mouthpiece i find hard reeds will be difficult to emphasise expression, and that a small opening mouthpiece will choke if i use a reed that's too thin. Thats just the basic equation. Different cuts, plants etc will change the way a reed responds and sounds. I used to try to show off a little and get really thick reeds. But now that I have less ego (maybe) I just play what feels good. I would say try some and pick the one that you like the best.
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
This has probably been addressed to death, but I'm just curious.

Do you typically move up in reed strength leaving the softer reeds in your past as you progress?

Or do you continue to use different strength reeds for various different types of music?

I started with a 1.5, moved to a 2, then 2.5 shortly after, tried to go higher but that wore out my embouchure too much. I actually tried going down in strength last month or so to #2.25, however whilst the low notes were very easy to blow and the high notes also easier to blow, I felt that my high register tone felt very weak in recordings, and hence I went back to #2.5, which seems like a good middle of the road reed for my mouthpiece.

I only use legere signatures, but I sure would swap to bari plastic if I had to compete, volume wise :)

PS: I'm also a year into the sax! Woo!
 
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