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How do you keep your reeds ready to go

Discussion in 'Practical Advice' started by Ed, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    When I play multiple saxes I generally use fibracells on the horns that I'm not playing as much during a concert or rehearsal. I've seen people advocating soaking reeds in a glass of water before hand and I've seen people employ the use of a sponge attached to the inside of a mouthpiece cap. The Oboe and Bassoon players that I know tend to have a small medicine cup or shot glass filled with water and have their reeds in it. I'd love to hear from some folks playing in pit orchestras for their experience and solutions.
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    When I was subbing on White Christmas over the holidays, I used plastic on clarinet/bass clarinet/bari and just worried about keeping my bassoon reeds wet.

    I subbed the Reed 2 book as well, and used cane on the clarinet and alto sax, since I was playing them both quite a bit.

    It varies from show to show, but for me, the bassoon needs attention, so I use plastic for convenience on the other horns.
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I mentioned in another thread that I had a gig where I had to play multiple horns:

    * Bb clarinet
    * Bb bass clarinet
    * Eb bari sax
    * Eb alto sax

    ... and I tried out Rico Plasticover reeds on 'em. It worked well for the gig, but the reeds were warped the next day. A full synthetic reed might work.

    As far as double reeds, I always see players have reeds soaking in a cup of water. That's not practical if you have to double -- say, oboe and English Horn, or something. I know that there are synthetic reeds for double-reed players. I don't know how they'd work out, tho.

    However, in general, when I played my single-reeds, I kept a couple good reeds in a metal reed case that Vandoren used to sell. I still have my one for Bb clarinet, but I had one for all pitches, at one time. Ed mentioned the Vandoren reed "humidors" in another thread. I think I'd try that, but I'd dunk the reed in something to kill the germs, first.
  4. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    I used Plasticover and Legere to great effect in the last two pit orchestra jobs I did. I didn't have time to make sure the reeds were ready and these synthetic reeds did the trick. But I prefer the sound of real vs. synthetic materials myself.
  5. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I really don't know if there's much a difference in sound. If there is, I wonder how much of that is the mouthpiece -- for instance, a metal Wolf Tayne + a Fibercell might give you a Fisher-Price plastic tone, whereas a hard rubber C* + Fibercell might not. And, of course, if you're talking double-reeds, you've got no mouthpiece to worry about.

    It's an interesting question. Hard to test.
  6. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    It's not too hard to test. I've made numerous recordings with my digital studio setup. Reeds don't seem to matter quite as much as most people think. Mouthpieces matter more. Different horns can be rather obvious. I've come to my own conclusion that picking reeds are about response more than anything else.
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Actually, it is, because we get into the "finish makes no difference in the tone" pro/con argument.

    At the very most, you're proving that the reed makes no difference when YOU play on a SPECIFIC mouthpiece. If you want to test it properly, you'll need a large quantity of mouthpieces -- you've got THAT covered -- and either multiple players that are experts with the same mouthpiece and reed you want to test, or are robots. And I don't know of a robot that can test mouthpieces.

    And then you're havening to talk about single vs. double-reeds. And you're talking about the player vs. audience experience. Hey, I hate the way the Plasticovers taste.

    Completely apocryphal data indicates that, for me, I really didn't notice a difference in tone when I played the Rico Plasticovers. I do think it could make a difference. "Could." Not "Does".
  8. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    I can only tell you my experiences. I have pretty good ears (or so the hearing test I took last year indicated) but alas I've only tested with a handful of mouthpieces and probably three or four different reed brands. The focus of my tests were listening to how I really sound versus how I think I sound.
  9. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

  10. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    I cannot abide the synthetic reeds that I have tried to like in the worst way. My normal setup for our group is clarinet/bass clarinet/alto sax/baritone sax (with the no reed flute given some occasional use), and my solution is to periodically "slurp" on each mouthpiece to keep things moist.

    Throw in bassoon or bass sax, and things get a bit more dicy. I can manage to keep the bassoon reed wet enough in the cup, but getting it onto and off of the horn in a hurry is hard to pull off. A good "same level for all horns" doubling stand helps, but you have to stay on your toes at all times.
  11. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Yah. When I did the gig I mentioned, I only had stands for my bari and Bb clarinet. I had the others lying on the floor in front of me. I kept the singer away by glaring and occasionally growling. I was somewhat surprised that that technique worked.
  12. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Rented out my sopranino sax for ten days (a $50) to a university and asked to spend some time with the young musician. I quickly found out she could not play the #3 reeds I use (helps with the clarion range). After about 3 minutes of her not being able to get the instrument to speak I gave it a blow and it was fine for me.

    So I went to grab a 2.5 and inspiration hit. I asked her if she'd ever used synthetic reeds and she indicated she had not. So I clipped a plasticover clarinet reed to fit the sopranino mouthpiece and handed it to her. Instant sound, especially for a musician who seem to have not mastered airflow techniques. Both her mom and her jumped as the instrument spoke.

    I convinced her that since she had so little time to prepare and didn't want to have to futz with reeds for the performance (all ensemble, no solo, and only one song that called for the instrument) to stick with the plasticover. We'll see how it goes next week, but I think she'll be fine.
  13. double reeds stay on cane, duh
    some single reeds are on plasticovers or full synthetics. bass clarinet, bari/tenor sax/alto saxes
    Bb clarinet, and soprano stay on cane as well. If I have a long enough break I'll leave them in a shot glass, but if they're warmed up sufficiently, they'll usually play pretty well
  14. Reeds on the go

    This is the ongoing problem isn't it when we have a horn that sits for awhile. The Japanese company "Forestone" makes the only Bb clarinet reed that I have found that sounds close to cane. They are now making Alto sax reeds that are good. They are a composite reed not entirely plastic. I use Legere for my other horns. Isn't it a great feeling to know they aren't warped when you pick up a horn that has been sitting till the last tune in the show..
  15. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    Up until recently I've always played multiple horns--albeit all saxes, but nonetheless multiple horns. At the most, I juggled playing 5 horns (soprano through bass) on stage. Since I switched to Fibracell more than 10 years ago I haven't worried about keeping my reeds ready to go. They always are. The only thing to worry about is that when they do decide that their time is up, you have no warning, so having an extra on stage for each horn is a must.

    I challenge anyone to tell the difference in my playing if I use a Fibracell versus a Platiscoat or conventional reed. Recordings don't lie. I sound the same. Heh, but I'm a rocker, so maybe it's my set-up in general, so YMMV.
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    +1 on the "no warning" thing, referencing my post about the Rico Plasticovers: hey, I thought they'd be fine the next day after the gig, not warped ....

    I've heard a lot of folks talk about the Fibracells. I think I might want to try them. Are they consistent in hardness and quality?
  17. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    The newer numbered ones (IMHO) are more consistent, but I still prefer the older lettered reeds. On the right mouthpiece, they play as well as a good piece of cane, but when they go - YIKES! You could finish a blues solo with one that has died, but forget going on if you are doing Bolero or Kije. (Think playing card in the spokes, except it is your mouthpiece.)
  18. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    +1 to everything that Carl said. (I loved the playing card in the spokes thing BTW.) :emoji_smile:

    I have actually finished a blues solo with a dead Fibracell. It happened not too long ago at rehearsal. Altissimo wouldn't work needless to say, and I sounded a bit like I was playing a kazoo.

    For actual shows, and especially for festivals, I have a stash of "show" reeds that only get used for shows. There is actually a bit of warning with Fibracells, depending on what you play. If you're an altissimo player, you generally notice that the notes start becoming inconsistent... At least that has been my experience. When the reeds no longer allow me to hit my altissimo notes consistently, that's when they move out of the "show" stash into the rehearsal and practice pile.
  19. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Playing bari means that you rarely have to worry about altissimo :). However, I might try them on the only horns I have access to (well, when I don't feel like my head will fall off), which is an alto sax and a Bb clarinet.

    How long do these reeds generally last?
  20. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    On my main horns (tenor and bari) that I was playing 4 to 5 nights a weeks, I would have 4 reeds in a holder, rotate them--just like I would if they were cane reeds--and they would last me the better part of a year.

    BTW, I do altissimo on bari, not as much as on tenor, but some. I also do some on bass. But then my bass only plays to high Eb, so when I want to nudge it higher, I automatically have to play altissimo just to get a regular range from it.

    Even on my bass I use the Fibracell, but there I use a 1 or Soft. I have some 1 1/2s, but I find them too hard. Playing bass is hard enough. I don't need a stronger reed to make it even harder.