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Reeds during the pandemic???

I am a user of Van Doren V12 (3.5 strength) reeds on my Bb clarinet. They work well for my set up in an orchestral setting.
Back in March of 2020 all of my Orchestra gigs were cancelled through December 31, 2021......due to Covid.
In early May 2020 I realized that I was blowing-through my V12 reeds as I practiced to keep my chops up....with no gig $ to replenish my supply.
At that time I decided to purchase a Legere 3.5 strength "European Cut" to try out.
Compared to cane the Legere reed sounds/reacts "good enough' in the lower/middle registers but above high C I have to work twice as hard to stay in tune....thus with a bit of extra effort I can play in tune chromatically up to high G.
Since my first Legere I purchased 4 more... As of this writing I am currently on my 3rd reed........and it's still holding up to 1.5 hour practice sessions/5 days per week.
Once a month I will do a practice session with my V12's to make sure that my embouchure hasn't "morphed"......

Would I use a Legere on an Orchestra gig? I highly doubt it but they have served me well for practice.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I don't think there's any particular need to have one brand of reed to do X and another to do Y. I used to use straight 3.5 Vandoren (i.e. just labeled "Vandoren," not "V12" or whatever) on Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, and Bb contrabass. Note that those reeds at least used to be harder than other manufacturers' using the same strength. They just worked for me. I used the same reeds and mouthpieces for orchestral, regular "band," and jazz.

I've also used whatever available when my favored reeds were unavailable. I liked the Rico Plasticover 3.5, but they warped (this was a loooong time ago, so that may now be fixed). LaVoz medium-hard were OK. Regular Rico 4 were OK, but Vandoren and LaVoz had a higher good reed count per box.

I've not played extensively for years. Rico 2.5s are what I've semi-recently used on my wife's Bb clarinets and alto sax.

You can argue that you might want a different mouthpiece/reed/ligature combination for playing some form of music. That's going to be a matter of opinion, I think.

Remember that Benny Goodman used 1.5s.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
I am a user of Van Doren V12 (3.5 strength) reeds on my Bb clarinet. They work well for my set up in an orchestral setting.
Back in March of 2020 all of my Orchestra gigs were cancelled through December 31, 2021......due to Covid.
In early May 2020 I realized that I was blowing-through my V12 reeds as I practiced to keep my chops up....with no gig $ to replenish my supply.
At that time I decided to purchase a Legere 3.5 strength "European Cut" to try out.
Compared to cane the Legere reed sounds/reacts "good enough' in the lower/middle registers but above high C I have to work twice as hard to stay in tune....thus with a bit of extra effort I can play in tune chromatically up to high G.
Since my first Legere I purchased 4 more... As of this writing I am currently on my 3rd reed........and it's still holding up to 1.5 hour practice sessions/5 days per week.
Once a month I will do a practice session with my V12's to make sure that my embouchure hasn't "morphed"......

Would I use a Legere on an Orchestra gig? I highly doubt it but they have served me well for practice.
FWIW, I have used Legere Signature Series on S,A,T, saxes as well as bass clarinet for about 10 years. For Bb clarinet I use the European Cut. The only horn I don't use Legere for is my bari, and 1 of my tenors. For those I use Harry Hartmann's Carbon Onyx reeds. For bass I still have some very old Fibercell reeds (from before they went to sh*!).

For none of my instruments have I noticed a change in the intonation between synthetic and cane reeds. The only time my synthetic reeds' intonation suffers is when they start to get too soft, or are reaching the end of their life.

I have 4 reeds in a Reed Guard that I rotate just like I did when I played on cane. When I was rehearsing/performing 3-4 hrs. each night 4-5 nights a week, rotating reeds like this would allow 4 reeds to last about a year. (Give or take.)

I am hard on my reeds. I played in rock, R&B, and electric blues bands at the time. Everything was LOUD, and way LOUDER once it came out of the PA system. My attacks and releases were more often than hard--certainly harder than in jazz--and legato tonguing was only used in the very occasional ballad.

Now I play bari in a 15-piece swing band, but I am still hard on my reeds.

I know some players are cane purists. I used to be one of them. But then the more I doubled, the more I got tired of "reed drama", and worrying about whether my reed was wet or not. Synthetics solved that problem for me. I have been playing synthetics for 20 years now. Haven't looked back.
 
I recently tried 3 different brands of synthetic reeds. I really wanted to switch from cane because people who love them tell me how good they are.

They didn't need wetting, played up and down the registers well, perhaps a little weaker in the high end but acceptable.

On the other hand, my mode of expression involves changing the tones, brightness, vowel sounds, with embouchure, oral cavity shape, and breath support (or lack of) and I could not do that with the artificial reeds.

I play pop/rock/light-jazz for a living (whatever the gig calls for), or did until COVID-19 took my gigs away temporarily. I'm looking forward to the day when we get to gig again, then I'll break out the cane reeds and up my expressive game again.

I have one at home on a sax sitting out on a stand. I can slap the mouthpiece on and play a little without wetting the reed, and that's the only advantage that applies to me.

Of course, there is more than one way to make music, so I don't want to imply that artificial reeds are wrong for anyone else, they are just wrong for me.

Insights and incites by Notes
 
I know some players are cane purists.
A friend of mine (an excellent ww doubler) uses Fibercell reeds and they work well for him.
I've used Fibercell (or tried to use) several time over the last 25 years and I can't get them to work for me.......or is it I can't work for them??
My buddy gets an excellent tone on them...

Hey, we're all different...

Speaking of "cane purists": The reason that I am reluctant to using Legere in my orchestra gigs is the fact that when I successfully auditioned-into the group (as bass / utility clarinet) the principal and 2nd clarinet players kind of gave me ""the look"" when I showed up to the first rehearsal with my Selmer 10G clarinet.
The 2nd clarinetist looked at me and said "so............you play a Selmer.....?". Me: "yes I do".
I feel that I spent the first four/five seasons "proving" to the principal & second chairs that a Selmer can cut-it in the section.
btw: They are both Buffet R13 disciples, also using similar mpc's/ligatures....so maybe they thought that my Selmer was the anti-clarinet or something - lol. It was a tough shell to crack.

Over the years we've grown to be friends...

Now, If I showed up with a Legere reed......................................?
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
I recently tried three different flavors of the Forestone reeds MH (#3 in Vandoren). I was pleasantly surprised at the sound and response. My wife uses them when doubling to be able to switch from her primary instrument (clarinet) to sax without having to futz with the reed. Our sponsor, Quinn the Eskimo Brass & Winds carries them so I had to give them a try. I still prefer cane at this time. YMMV.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
A find the Fibercell changed more than a decade ago. They used to be great. Then something happened and their reeds when to sh*!. It was around the time the company introduced more graded reeds and went away from the Soft, Medium Soft, Medium, etc. versions.

Any of Fibercells I tried after that all did not last. Rather than lasting a year or more in rotation, 1 reed wouldn't make it through a night. I would start to sound like Daffy Duck 1/2 way through a 3 hour show. It was truly shite. I spoke to a number of other players who had all used the brand, and they had the same experiences.

I had tried Legere in the past and wasn't a fan, but then my friend brought over some of the then-new Signature Series for tenor. They did it for me. They allowed me to be as hard as I needed/wanted to be on the reed, yet if I played a ballad, the reed allowed for beautiful expression. I was sold. Over the past 10 or so years the Signature Series has improved a lot from their first incarnation.

The European Cut is also a newer version. It was recommended to me by a tech/player I know from Vancouver Island. I was surprised how brilliantly they improved my clarinet tone.

Speaking of clarinets, I am the first to admit that I am NOT a clarinet player. I am hack. Bass clarinet is OK for me since that was my double in university. That said, I finally broke down and bought a wooden Bb clarinet just over a year ago. I do enough pit work that my chops were developed enough that my student Vito was no longer cutting it.

I bought a minty Selmer Centered Tone that we had on consignment. The player had 2. This was his backup horn. He had hardly ever used it. If you would like to see some clarinet porn, you can find an article about it here.
 
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