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Roger Aldridge

Composer in Residence
Distinguished Member
I've become a big fan of Legere synthetic reeds. Over the past couple of years I've come to use them exclusively on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone. Of course, there are times when I get an itch and try cane reeds again. It always happens that I find that I'm happier with the performance qualities I get with Legere.

On soprano clarinet I've tried all 4 versions of Legere reeds -- regular, Quebec, Ontario, and German. For whatever reason, I don't care for the regular Legere reed. It's quality of sound and response does not do anything for me. The German cut is similar to Vandoren White Master and does not work well on a French-style mouthpiece. That said, the Quebec and Ontario reeds are EXCELLENT. I absolutely love the quality of sound, response, and projection I get with Quebec on my Walter Grabner Kaspar-style mouthpieces. I keep trying the Ontario reed. There's no question in my mind that it's a significant improvement over the regular Legere reed. However, I prefer the darker sound and thicker tonal core I get with Quebec.



Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I must say most of the time when I thought of a synthetic reed I cringed most of the time. Synthetics are great in certain situations such as marching band, or if you double and the clarinet sits a lot such as in a Jazz or Big Band where the primary instrument is saxophone. It is really the only way to go.

The Big Band scenario is where I had initially used my Legere Quebec reed the most. With virtually no time to get the reed ready to play while sitting for big chunks of time it just makes sense. But being a repair person it also replaced the softer cut Mitchell Laurie 3s and 3-1/2 reeds that I use for playtesting. Providing good intonation, spotless “on” qualities all the way through altissimo (easily though double A and above) and excellent tone.

Since then the Quebec Legere graduated to a primary reed which I used in college band settings. I sit in and substitute for various bands so I get plenty of playing time. I find the Legere really nice to play. Good tone and quick response.

But since I started using it as the primary reed several months ago I noticed a few qualities about it which I didn’t quite figure out. It is mouthpiece sensitive. It‘s a good fit for my Vandoren M13lyre but a poor fit for my vintage Woodwind K9. But I knew this from other players.

The last two times I was using it I also was noticing it’s subtleties. Something specific about it’s response in that even though it was consistent across the board (and even more so than some cane) there are some instances where it’s not “superb”. In particular I could not push the reed for greater dynamics. Most of the time this is not much of an issue. But in one band I play with the school had the forethought to carpet the concert area floor. Of course, since this now “soaked” up sound the clarinets now have to play at greater dynamics (and everyone else). I found that the Legere simply could not be pushed enough. But then, on softer cane reeds they would have the same problem.

So I switched to a Vandoren Traditional 3.5. I normally use 3.5s or 4s depending upon the mouthpiece. With the Vandoren I got a much fuller tone with more presence. This was obvious from first playing the Vandoren again. Now it’s really been several months since I have played cane with any consistency so this was surprising to me. I was able to get more dynamics without feeling that I was pushing way too much.

I mentioned Mitchell Lauries reeds. The reed cut has significant factors on how the reed responds, it’s tone and it’s longevity though excluding the quality of cane and cut which also affects the qualities. The MLs have a cut that thins more of the reed tip and further down the middle ridge area, The middle section is not as thick for as far as on the Vandorens. And this particular quality give the MLs a very quick warmup time, though as time goes on the MLs start fading in their playing characteristics something the Quebecs don't do. Of course a thicker cut like the Vandoren provides a more full tone and is more consistent through an entire rehearsal/concert setting. So the MLs compare more to the Legere than the Vandorens for me.

For now, in the band/orchestra setting I’m headed back to using traditional cane. But this is in comparison to a Quebec Legere 3 reed. I have ordered a 3.25 and 3.5. Reed strength in cane has a lot to do with the tone so I’m hoping the tone improves, it can be pushed more and is more equal to the Vandorens. But for now I’m satisfied with what the Legere reed has provided though the 3.0s seems to be lacking in a bit in the tone department and dynamic flexibility. But we’ll see once the 3.25 and 3.5 arrives how well they match up.