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I'm a believer

We've all heard and read about the latest and greatest gizmos that are supposed to make life easier and simpler. Heaven knows that I sure have fallen prey to more than a few. And the world of woodwind reeds sure has its share of them. I've waffled between cane and synthetics depending on how much grief and aggravation I was willing to put up with. I must of tried them all with varying degrees of success. So I took the plunge and ordered some Forestone reeds for tenor. Didn't quite know what to expect but having read the marketing gobbledygook I ordered a couple at different strengths. At $25.00 a pop they sure aren't cheap! They took a couple of weeks to come in and when they arrived I slapped one on a hard rubber mouthpiece and gave it a blow. Surprise, surprise. A wonderful tone came out from the very bottom to the very top! Huh! I tried another mouthpiece. Same results. Well now, what do we have here? Put it on a Link STM and was disappointed. Not quite the response and tone as on the HR pieces. When I had tried them on a few other pieces I noticed that they seem to work very well on hard rubber but not as well as on metal. Mind you, these are my pieces and yours might give you a different result.
Anyways, just thought I'd share my findings with you all. They are not cheap, but if they work for you they might save you a lot of fiddling with cane
I've been using synthetics only for my bari for ca 5 years now, first Fibracell, now Harry Hartmann's Carbon Fiberreed. I'm at more than one year use at this time; not bad @ ca 2 hours per day. Strangely enough, and confirming Upbeat's observation, this Synths work wonderfully well with my two HR Berg Offsets but dully with my tenor Link (so so with a a Brilhart Ebolin).
My 2 (Swiss) cents


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I've been using some synthetics on my clarinet - Legere Quebecs since Roger got me going on it .. what .. about a year ago or more ?

it's great for playtesting instruments and general playing. i've used it in a concert setting too .. it's nice to know you can eliminate the warmup/ breakin time and just concentrate on playing.


Staff member
I've been playing Fibracells for a few years now on sax - mostly on tenor and bari. What works for me is keeping four reeds in rotation in a reedguard. It seems like I can make those four reeds last about a year, or perhaps a little longer, as long as I don't crunch a tip or something. I think I have said this before, but it helps to clean them periodically with a toothbrush and a little dish soap. It gets all those dead skin cells and crud off.

I don't play enough alto to judge longevity, and I don't like them on clarinet - I'm sticking to my trusty LaVoz MH.

I did try a Hartman on tenor for a while, but the tip chipped rather quickly - somewhat disappointing. It still plays, but it's a little too sharp for comfort.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
For me, there are two advantages to synthetics:

1. On big horns, cost. Baritone and bass sax reeds are almost as expensive as synthetics.

2. For doublers, less preparation time. Synthetics don't dry out while you play another instrument, and when getting 3, 4, or more horns ready for a gig, you don't have to wet them.

The downside:

Synthetics probably are worse than a great cane reed
Synthetics probably are worse than a great cane reed

and good synthetics are better than the average reed...and very good synth seem to me at par with good cane : it struck me, especially with Fibracells, that they are much less homogeneous (or more heterogeneous) than I imagined. There are obviously good, very good and less good (I never encountered a really bad one) synthetics. On the positive side, it's refreshnig to see that in this world of normalization, CNC-machined pieces and 23-sigma quality control there's a little room left for good (or bad) surprise.


Old King Log
Staff member
I invested a good deal of tin, and not an inconsiderable amount of time, in trying the "new" version of the synthetic reed, the Legere, back when they were first introduced. Upon reflection over the whole experience, it was time and treasure wasted, and I am still back with traditional reeds.

My objections to them centered in three different areas:

One was that they fell flat after a very short period of playing - which would have been very irritating if it took place during a performance. (I made sure that the failures occurred during extended, intense practice, just in case.)

The second problem was that they were/are so expensive. That alone made keeping a stable of them (to alternate use of same to overcome objection #1 above) a difficult proposition. I'm not poor, but I'm not not that poor. Clarinet, alto and tenor users (a category that I also fit within) may carp a bit about the expense, but we baritone and bass instrument players have a rear reason to faunch.

The thrid problem (and the real deal-breaker for me) was that they tore up the edges of my lower and upper lips. Shredded in the case of the upper one, just badly chaffed up with the bottom lip.

So, I'm not going to wax all enthusiastic about any of them any time soon again. The time between my two trials was along the lines of thirty-five years. With a bit of extrapolation, I figure that I'm due for another go along about 2042...


Staff member
I've had the best luck with Fibracells. They have decent bite in the tone and don't go soft like Legere seem to for me. Generally I'm playing on older Rico's on most of the horns.
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