Tutorials

Reeds What's the difference between Vandoren Blue, Java Green and Java Red?

David Roach

Senior Member
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London
Java green are French cut. ZZ and red java are American cut. French and American cut reeds work better on a different facing curves
imo
Hmm.... I do not entirely agree, but this may be a partly semantic disagreement ;)

Java Greens, Reds, ZZs and V16s are all of 'jazz or rock' functionality.
Blue Box, V12 and V21s are of 'classical' functionality (but V21s are supposed to cross over somewhat).

However Java Red is a 'Filed' cut (Vandoren's own words) which is perhaps where misunderstanding has arisen. 'Filed' means that the bark of the cane is stripped in a straight line below the vamp which makes a difference to the tone and response. Java Reds share this physical characteristic with BlueBox and V12s, but the Java Reds are entirely different in their musical functionality which is aligned to Java Greens, ZZs and V16s...(BTW, V21s, which are ostensibly a classical cut, are not a 'Filed' cut, but they are more similar in tone and response to BlueBox and V12s than they are to, e.g.,.Javas.)
I quote Vandoren: "The driving force behind the JAVA “Filed – Red Cut” design was to offer more sonic possibilities to musicians while keeping the qualities of the original Java."
and re: V16s
"Launched in 1993 ...... (a JAVA with even more wood)."
So it makes no sense to say that Java Greens and Reds are as radically different as being 'American' or 'French'. And whatever the terminology, I entirely disagree that Java Greens, Java Reds and ZZs are meant for different facings; they are, even in Vandoren's terms, different tonal variations of basically the same reed.

To my mind and experience, a 'French' or 'Classical' cut is one that has a much thinner tip and thicker heart and shoulders and is particularly designed to respond as a 'classical' reed - i.e. pure, clear, controlled and very stable in pitch and tone. None of the French reed makers (Vandoren, Selmer, Rigotti) use the term 'French' or 'American' cut any more for obvious commercial and political, and above all logical, reasons.

Classical cuts do not, in general, respond well on American i.e.jazz & rock style mouthpieces because they are designed for mouthpieces with low baffles and somewhat shorter and facings, and yes, with different curves. But there exist exceptions amongst players- Stan Getz and Tim Garland spring to mind, both exceptional players who use BlueBox on Otto Link Tone Edge mouthpieces.
Getz suffered with occasional squeaks because of his reed and mouthpiece set-up which were accepted as part and parcel of his approach (and worth it for the transcendent playing), but he did go for advice to another player (I forget who) on how to eliminate the squeaks, albeit unsuccessfully, which rather indicates that he was not entirely happy with the squeaks.
Tim Garland told me he did have issues with squeaking when he first moved to BlueBox, but he obviously adapted successfully.
My guess is that Getz's mouthpiece (#6?) had serious asymmetry and that the strength of reed he used (#4?) exacerbated things.
Tim uses an 8 with #3s (AFAIR).
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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1,188
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Hampshire
I'm not experienced enough to know anything about how different reed types and cuts respond, so this thread is very useful to me, in that aspect.
All I know is that Java Reds on my PPT are enough to have distracted me from my Legere Signature for the past Month or so. I've tried most of the above Vandorens and not really enjoyed the sound I was getting. For me and my set up, Red Java's seem to help me produce a really broad subtone, with a nice bit of edge when I push it.
 
OP
randulo

randulo

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So I bought a couple of Java and prefer the feel of the green 2 1/2. BU, I find it tires more quickly than the Blue or other reeds I have. Maybe 2 hours of constant practicing...
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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Oneonta, NY
So I bought a couple of Java and prefer the feel of the green 2 1/2. BU, I find it tires more quickly than the Blue or other reeds I have. Maybe 2 hours of constant practicing...
I play the green 2 1/2 too. I really like them a lot. I haven't had any issue with them tiring and I generally practice between 2 and 3 hours a day. I do break them in carefully and rotate 4. Most of the ten in a box play for me, but there are always a couple that I really like a lot.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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12,204
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Burnley bb9 9dn
It really is fascinating how different players experience the same reed. My experience with Java was that they faded fast. Maybe different players put different stresses on the reed. Maybe we have different concepts of what they should deliver or feel like.

What a blessing and a curse this instrument is. A passion, a frustration and an obsession. I'm so glad it picked me. ;)
 
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randulo

randulo

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Bordeaux, France
I'm now at the point where I try to get a better sound, and that involves changing the embouchure a little, which I am sure puts different stresses on different reeds. And then we all know reeds are like snowflakes. None are identical.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
583
Location
London
So I bought a couple of Java and prefer the feel of the green 2 1/2. BU, I find it tires more quickly than the Blue or other reeds I have. Maybe 2 hours of constant practicing...
Java Greens are the most flexible of the Vandorens I reckon, so if you hammer them too early on in the blowing in process, they can tend to 'tire' quickly. But put it away for a couple of weeks to let it really dry out, and it will play well once more.

I play with a very loose embouchure so I don't put much stress at all on my reeds.
That, is the answer. The more you have to compress a reed to make it play, the faster it will blow out.
If you choose a mouthpiece that plays like you want it to with a reed that is of a strength that minimises biting and upward pressure, the whole thing will work better for longer.
Say you have a very bright mouthpiece, but you actually want it to sound darker: you may have a tendency to use reeds that are too hard, or distort your embouchure to compensate. It's really important to allow a mouthpiece and reed to do the job they were built to do.
Having said that, the more advanced you are, the more you can control things. A very loose embouchure is not necessarily the answer either (especially on the higher instruments), but it's a good starting point from which to grow. It's easier to firm up a bit than to learn to relax a muscle that is stuck in a pattern of over-tightness.
 
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