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

David Roach

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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

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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.
 
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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

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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...
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

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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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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
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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...
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.
 

Pete Effamy

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I put a Vandoren Jazz 2 1/2 on my alto this morning and the sound was different from all the previous cane reeds I have played. However, it felt like it was harder to play and might be better in a 2. I couldn't find a 2 at the store. I was curious about the Javas, since I've never had any, so I bought a Green and a Red to see what's up. I haven't played either yet, but I will before I look back at your replies, if any. It's best if you have played them.
The more you play, the more you will want from your sound - response, range etc and the more that you will ask of your reed. You'll notice finer differences more. Any change in setup will possibly lead to a change of reed too. Java's were my reed for several years until I changed mouthpiece/horn and then they were unusable for me. I have also played Hemke, which I loved until I changed setup. ZZ's, Lupifaro, Jazz Select. Problem is, there are so many now. Along with all the horns, 'pieces, ligs... Add to this the amount of styles you might find yourself playing and trying to adapt to. Also, the longer you play on one reed, the less you notice it deteriorate (get softer, along with your chops!) and the next 'identical' one will feel anything like identical. Most reeds vary a lot, as they are not man-made.
 

Colin the Bear

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Reeds are man made... from a natural product, but they're made, not grown and harvested. The hardness rating is given after cutting.
All the different reeds available are slightly different. They differ mostly in the shape of the cut. However different manufacturers use different species of plant. D'addario reserve are cut from a different part of the cane. The reeds for Gonzales are a different species to European and North American cane and are grown on the slopes of the Andes. They always taste sweet to me.
 

Pete Effamy

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Since the product is natural, it is not uniform. I don't know anyone who doesn't have problems with reed consistency - from orchestral players to jazz, clarinet to sax. Just look at the whole topic of reed doctoring - if they were all pretty much the same then the topic would be barely written about.
 

ESJohn

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I've been using Rico 2.5 and 3 for about a year now but just yesterday ordered the Vandoren traditional in the 2.5 strength. Cost about $5 each. The seller did not have 2's. I've heard so many positive things about that brand so am anxious to try. One comment that I read was that the v21's were more like the traditional than the v12's.
 

MikeMorrell

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I found these 'comparison' videos (jazz) helpful. VanDoren has equivalent videos on their ''classical reeds.



 
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Colin the Bear

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I've been using Rico 2.5 and 3 for about a year now but just yesterday ordered the Vandoren traditional in the 2.5 strength. Cost about $5 each. The seller did not have 2's. I've heard so many positive things about that brand so am anxious to try. One comment that I read was that the v21's were more like the traditional than the v12's.
Different cuts. Rico orange are American cut and Vandoren Blue are French cut. These cuts were originally to accommodate American and French mouthpieces which have a different facing curve.

V12 are French cut. V21 is American cut.


View: https://youtu.be/GwSjY3vj4Ic
 

David Roach

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Different cuts. Rico orange are American cut and Vandoren Blue are French cut. These cuts were originally to accommodate American and French mouthpieces which have a different facing curve.

V12 are French cut. V21 is American cut.

@Colin the Bear I think your latter statement is incorrect. V21s are for the most part a classical reed, therefore, in your terms, French.

The terms Filed and Unfiled are not synonymous with 'French' and 'American' (or 'Classical' and 'Jazz') when speaking about reeds.
Within your use of the terminology, a Daddario Select Jazz Filed reed would be considered French, which would be a most peculiar idea.
 

Colin the Bear

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In days of yore American mouthpieces had a different shaped facing. French mouthpieces having a curved facing and American being straight. Modern pieces have a variety of shapes. Hence the bewildering array of reeds

French Filed has been abbreviated to filed. Americans make French cut reeds. French make American cut reeds.

Americans play classical and the French play jazz.

Me, I play jazz on what would be considered a classical set up, but the it's classic jazz in an English dance band style with a nod to the American greats and Bechet and the Hot Club of France.

I have no idea what a jazz reed is. I thought jazz was what you play not what you play it with.

My vintage mouthpieces on alto and tenor Circa 1920's prefer a French cut reed. Lately the Rico Reserve. The S80s I use on sop and bari too. The Rico I use on clarinet plays best with an American cut reed.

When I stared out life was much simpler. Rico, Rico Royale ( I seem to remember an e on the end) and Vandoren blue was just about all you could get.

Imo it's short sighted to restrict yourself to a reed that has been labelled with a genre of music.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Imo it's short sighted to restrict yourself to a reed that has been labelled with a genre of music.
I doubt anyone actually does! But the reed differences are confusing, everything confuses me. I guess as a guitarist for decades, I bought and used a certain kind of string but it wouldn't make much difference, as long as the diameters were about the same. Pretty much a matter of trying reeds which I've done, and settled on a couple.
 
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