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reeds?

when do i know when i should upgrade to a higher level of a reed? i play on 2.5 and i played those for 3.5 years. Do i ever need to change to 3.0 will it make it easier to play high notes or low?:-D
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
I use a simple test to tell if I am playing on the right strength reed (assuming your horn is in good adjustment):

Play the lowest note on your horn.

Play the highest note on your horn.

Both should play with relative ease.

If you are fighting leaks then all best are off. See your tech and get it working well.

I don't believe in telling anyone what strength reed they should play because a) I have no idea if they're chops are well developed or not. b) I have no idea if their mouthpiece has a good facing on it and that the tip opening is as advertised. c) I have no idea how they prepare their reeds.

Some guys like softer reeds and some guys like harder reeds. It is more a matter of everything working together well (you, the horn, the mouthpiece, and the reeds).
 
Geez, when I click "New Posts" I see 5 threads all started by prosax with one response each by Ed. Lol.;)

Whatever you do with reeds, don't keep "upgrading" to try to start playing a 5 unless you need to. I tried that once when I didn't know better and wasted a few boxes.. and ruined my embouchure.:???:
 

Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Agree. There seems to be a fallacy among young players that the mark of a true gentlemen is one who plays a stronger reed. It ain't so. Reed strength has to do with one's embouchure and the mouthpiece's design, it is not a sign of "macho.".

Example - I've been playing soprano and alto saxophones for over 50 years. I use a #1 1/2 or 2 reed (Vandoren Java or ZZ, depending on the mouthpiece I'm playing). No volume issues, no intonation issues, no weak low end or high end.

Reed preparation is an important part of how a reed plays. Reeds, being products of nature (well, with the exception of synthetics) are notoriously inconsistent, so learn to prep them and adjust them and you'll find that almost every reed in a box will play well, rathewr then the two or so out 10 or 12 that is normally the case.

There is no harm in experimenting, though. Invest in a few boxes of various brands, strengths, and cuts, and discover what works best for you. Go up in half-strengths if you want to. DAVE
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Our Distinguished Member Dave has given you sound advice. He has many years playing experience, and knows of what he speaks.

Have you heard of Gato Barbieri, the Grammy winning jazz tenor sax player and composer? He plays a 1 1/2 reed on a Berg Larsen stainless steel mouthpiece, (forgot what opening). He hits his altissimo notes with no problems.

Personally, I play a 2 1/2 Fibracell with a Dukoff D7 on tenor, and use 2 1/2 reeds on all the other saxes (S,A,B) except bass, where I use a 1. I've been playing about 25 years, and have played 2 1/2's for nearly 20 of those years.
 
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yeah well when i just started to play the saxophone, my band teacher said that as you get better you need a thicker or lighter reed size.

what companies make the best reeds? i got Rico 2.5 a couple months ago.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
There is no one best reed company. There are certain reeds which play better on certain mouthpieces, but no one thing is the best when it comes to woodwind instruments and getting a setup which will work for you.

You will probably do well to stick with the Rico for a couple years til you have some idea of what a better reed is for you.
 
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Actually some reed companies make bad quality reeds. The first time I was planning to buy reeds, I bought these reeds from china and each one of them were different. They guy of course said they were 2.5 but some were a little thicker than other. Burt they were the same length though. which made it harder to play. one reed is easy to play but the other one isn't. Another reeds would make it really hard and it would take a lot of air to blow to make one note sound the proper way.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Actually some reed companies make bad quality reeds. The first time I was planning to buy reeds, I bought these reeds from china and each one of them were different. They guy of course said they were 2.5 but some were a little thicker than other. Burt they were the same length though. which made it harder to play. one reed is easy to play but the other one isn't. Another reeds would make it really hard and it would take a lot of air to blow to make one note sound the proper way.
You will find that to a certain degree in all reeds, even the synthetic reeds.

If you find a brand which mostly works for you, consider yourself fortunate.

Don't disregard all off brands either, some of them might be very good. Probably not, but you never know...
 
You will find that to a certain degree in all reeds, even the synthetic reeds.

If you find a brand which mostly works for you, consider yourself fortunate.

Don't disregard all off brands either, some of them might be very good. Probably not, but you never know...

Do you know if the plastic made reeds work well? well one time in life, my dad bought the wrong clarinet reeds.
He bought alto clarinet reeds for my sister so i just decided to try them out on my alto saxophone and they actually make a pretty cool sound! I would say they make the same exact sound.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Do you know if the plastic made reeds work well? well one time in life, my dad bought the wrong clarinet reeds.
He bought alto clarinet reeds for my sister so i just decided to try them out on my alto saxophone and they actually make a pretty cool sound! I would say they make the same exact sound.
They may or may not work well with the mouthpiece you're using. (and yes, Alto Clarinet and Alto Sax reeds are roughly interchangeable).

Lately I've become quite fond of Selmer Primo (aka Gonzalez) reeds for my bass clarinet. They're very reasonably priced and very consistent from reed to reed.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
They may or may not work well with the mouthpiece you're using. (and yes, Alto Clarinet and Alto Sax reeds are roughly interchangeable).

Lately I've become quite fond of Selmer Primo (aka Gonzalez) reeds for my bass clarinet. They're very reasonably priced and very consistent from reed to reed.
The guy who did my bas mouthpiece seems fond of Glotin on bass. I have a couple boxes, but since most of my playing is pit work, I've been using Fibracell or Bari, depending on how aggressive the tone needs to be.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Starting out it is best to stick with reeds from Rico or Vandoren. You can find reed strength charts at their websites but I would stick with Rico's. I've been playing for 30 years and still use Rico's.

Since you are new to the sax and you seem to have a passion for the instrument I would highly recommend that you ask your band director if he could recommend a private instructor. It's not always necessary but you may find it beneficial.
 
Starting out it is best to stick with reeds from Rico or Vandoren. You can find reed strength charts at their websites but I would stick with Rico's. I've been playing for 30 years and still use Rico's.

Since you are new to the sax and you seem to have a passion for the instrument I would highly recommend that you ask your band director if he could recommend a private instructor. It's not always necessary but you may find it beneficial.

i do have a private instructor i actually play hard songs.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
What label does Hard record for? I'm not familiar with their catalog. Any specific song of theirs you are currently working on?
 
to echo a lot of the replies here ...

1) a stronger reed (aka higher number) --- -is-not-equal-to --- easier, better, stronger, faster playing of any description. Nor does it equate to improving or learning more.

2) there is no magic reed. If there were we'd all be playing it!

3) your mouthpiece, ligature, horn, shape of your mouth/body is different than everyone's here. The right reed is the one the works best with you and your set-up on your particular horn.

4) In general, specific gear can't fix a playing issue ... if you are having playing issues ... look to your posture, figure position, embouchure first

5) If you still want to switch up your reeds ... Try out some different reeds ... you may find one that works better for you on your set up. My current personal preference is Java 3s. ....

As everyone else has said check out some reed charts and stick to around what you have strength wise. 2.5-3 should be just fine if you've been playing on 2.5s.

Cheers.
 
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