Saxophone Forum


by Scrythe
(22 posts)
7 years ago

legit reeds

For a while now, i've been using La Voz for my all my legit playing, be it in my high schools wind ensemble or playing classical solos. I know Vandoren blue box's are very good reeds for classical playing, but for some reason, they don't work for me. They use up so much air and such an open throat to play, that it hurts, physically, to play on them.(i'm using 2 1/2 by the way) La Voz mediums are about the same strength and play so much easier. the sound isn't as dark as the vandorens but they play so smooth and easily. I wanna know what you guys think of the vandoren blue box and what reeds your using for classical playing.

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  1. by The Insomniac Saxman
    (141 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: legit reeds

    I pretty much stick to blue box for legit playing . . . When I was doing a lot more legit playing in graduate school (and consequently was more persnickety about my reeds), I had about a 70-80% reject rate per box, and was never one to work on reeds. Nowadays, I don't track the reject rate, but I probably find 70-80% of the reeds in a box doable (at least for a day) . . . I use blue box on alto both for legit and straight ahead--I've got a "slap-n-go" philosophy since I do so much playing and really don't have time to work on reeds nowadays . . . I'll play on a reed until it no longer does what I need of it, then discard it. It serves my purposes well enough . . . On Vandoren's reed strength comparison chart, a La Voz medium rates closer to a #2 than a #2.5, which explains why #2.5 blue box are giving you a little trouble . . . All that being said, the mouthpiece-reed-ligature combination needs to be optimized, and if you want your best results as far as reed longevity is concerned, then you should design that combination around a #3 reed--not too soft or hard, but just right. Just out of curiosity, what kind of mouthpiece are you using for legit? Perhaps the tip is too open for legit playing (I use a relatively close facing for legit--on alto I play a Rousseau NC-4, and on soprano I play a Morgan 1C). Also, if you support your airstream properly from your diaphragm, it shouldn't feel like it takes too much air, and it shouldn't hurt. Hope this helps!

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    1. by Scrythe
      (22 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: legit reeds

      I'm using a selmer S80 C*.i don't think that it was the fact that it was a bad reed. i was using one that I marked as good. i played it to warm up before we started but then once we started playing, i couldn't play.(i'm talking about a wind ensemble setting)

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  2. by bleeding gums
    (18 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: legit reeds

    use blue box vandorens, not much can beat 'em. You can ask your local music store to order the "hand select" boxes. A little pricier but worth it. Basically someone at the factory goes through the reeds and picks the best cut ones to put in these boxes. Also, if you're going to be doing classical work, you gotta learn to mess around with your reeds. Get a knife, a reed knife works best but any hobby knife that has a long flat blade will do. Wet the reed and play on in a little. Spend a good minute rubbing it with your thumb. A good test to see if you've rubbed it enough: let some water sit on top of the reed and blow "through" the bottom, if bubbles rise up through the wood, you need to rub more. Once this is done take the reed and carefully start shaving the bottom side, from around the heart up being careful around the tip. Do this little by little and play as you go. Use your finger to feel if one side is heavier then the other. After going through a box or two you'll become an artist at this. Trust me, it's totally worth it and you won't believe the difference in feel when you're playing on a perfect reed. Keep in mind reeds warp with time so as you continue to play, every once in a while take out the knife and make sure it's all still good.

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    1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
      (767 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: legit reeds

      use blue box vandorens, not much can beat 'em. To be quite blunt, this is not close to fact. I played on the BBs for a number of years because they were the defacto institutionalized suggestion. Why? because some don't bother to explore other options. I find the BBs to be consistently unresponsive on a number of setups. Basically someone at the factory goes through the reeds and picks the best cut ones to put in these boxes. If that's true, why would you suggest anyone throw money at such an abyssmal state of mediocrity? The BBs are already on the more expensive side, and now you'll pay a further premium for what a reedmaker considers 'good'? I like Alexander Classiques and the Hemkes. Others have suggested the Gonzalez.

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    2. by Scrythe
      (22 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: legit reeds

      i don't think i understand the reed test with the water. but i attempted cutting one of my bad reeds and now the reed plays excellently.

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      1. by bleeding gums
        (18 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: legit reeds

        the water test: Reeds are made up of a bunch of little reeds pressed together. The ends of these reeds are open so air can escape out of them. The goal of this part of the reed prep is to have a cohesive piece of wood. hold the reed, flat side down, and put it under a faucet, letting the water run over the part you play on. After turning the water off keep the reed very still, there should be a little puddle of water resting on top of the reed. Bring it to your mouth, being careful to keep that little puddle of water on, and blow "through" the flat, polished end, not the end you would usually be blowing on. When I say blow through I mean wrap your lips around the base of the reed and blow, you wouldn't think that anything would happen but because the reed are hollow, you will actually see little bubbles rising through the reed. The fewer bubbles, the better the reed will play. To get rid of the bubbles, rub the wet reed with your thumb for a good long while. I sit in front of the tv with a few reeds soaking in a cup and work on them. Hope this helps.

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      2. by bleeding gums
        (18 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: legit reeds

        the water test: Reeds are made up of a bunch of little reeds pressed together. The ends of these reeds are open so air can escape out of them. The goal of this part of the reed prep is to have a cohesive piece of wood. hold the reed, flat side down, and put it under a faucet, letting the water run over the part you play on. After turning the water off keep the reed very still, there should be a little puddle of water resting on top of the reed. Bring it to your mouth, being careful to keep that little puddle of water on, and blow "through" the flat, polished end, not the end you would usually be blowing on. When I say blow through I mean wrap your lips around the base of the reed and blow, you wouldn't think that anything would happen but because the reed are hollow, you will actually see little bubbles rising through the reed. The fewer bubbles, the better the reed will play. To get rid of the bubbles, rub the wet reed with your thumb for a good long while. I sit in front of the tv with a few reeds soaking in a cup and work on them. Hope this helps.

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        1. by bleeding gums
          (18 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          oops, sorry about the double post

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        2. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          The reed needs to form a perfect seal with the mouthpiece or it will not play ,,to test this remove your neckpiece with the mouthpiece still on,,, and close off the end with yout hand ,,,now suck the air out of the neck doing so from the reed side ,,suck hard and create a vacuum ,,,,the reed should adhere to the mouthpiece and stick there for a long while ,,,,,, when you release your hand from the blocked end it should POPPP ,,,the better the pop the easier it will play,,,,,sometimes when reeds get water logged after being stored for a while they warp a little and do not produce this needed seal. So they are not playable. Changes in temperature and climatic changes cause this at times . Here in Montreal the winter is a real bummer for reeds ,,,humid summers are great though.

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        3. by bleeding gums
          (18 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          This is a great test, although I do it with just the mp, no neck. Also, when the reed becomes "unplayable" because of warping, a little work with a reed knife can bring it back to life. You'll often notice a little hump on the bottom side of the reed near the heart, this is what you want to make even with the rest of the reed. Of course, you could just buy a new one but we're all starving artists...right?

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        4. by CountSpatula
          (602 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          Actually...there's quiet a few mouthpieces out there that don't pass the seal test and play wonderful.

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        5. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          Hey CountSpatula can you name one that does not pass the test and plays ,,,I am intersted in finding out ,,i hope you know that what you are saying goes against all the physics ,,,since the reed does not vibrate during playing as we deem vibrating to be,,,,,, it actually perfoms more like a clapet valve on a two stroke engine

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        6. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          ,i>Hey CountSpatula can you name one that does not pass the test and plays ,,,I am intersted in finding out ,,i hope you know that what you are saying goes against all the physics ,,,since the reed does not vibrate during playing as we deem vibrating to be,,,,,, it actually perfoms more like a clapet valve on a two stroke engine My Tenor Metal Selmer does not pass such a test, and it has been expertly refaced and plays nicely. I also play reeds on the harder side of medium and the facing is long. It may be that that sort of configuration does not do well on that test.

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        7. by bleeding gums
          (18 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          I may not be countspatula, but I know that my big jazz mouthpieces don't past this test. There's some point where the space between the tip of mp and tip of reed just naturally sit too far apart for this test to be feasible. However, I do find that my classical mouthpieces pass this test. I feel that if a reed can't pass this tests on a mp that it usually can, the reed may be too old and/or warped beyond use.

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        8. by hselmer9966
          (31 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          zongas make a really good reed as well, also you might want to try gonzalez reeds. both of these reed makers divide the strengths of the reeds up...like they make a 3 soft, a 3 medium and a 3 hard...so the consitency of the strengths are better. where as vandorens are very inconsistant with strength. and they play well too.

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        9. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: legit reeds

          OK some of you guys are saying that their piece does not pass this test ,,,,that the reed tip is too far from the rails ,,,this does not mean it cannot pass the test it is just that the reed in this case leaves the rails very early ,as soon as you stop sucking the air ,,nevetheless the reed MUST,,, I REPEAT MUST,,, close tightly against the rails to the point of creating a perfect seal even if for a very short time ,,,IF NOT IT WILL NOT PLAY !!!!!!,,,likewise a piece that does not have rails that permit this seal will also not play ,,,just try a piece with badly warped rails and see ,,,most sax players have NO IDEA how the reed and piece perform during playing ,,,so they make claims that are caused by miss-information and contradict the laws of physics ,,,McGill university ran studies with xray machines to establish what exactly the reed does during playing ,,,whether sax ,,clarinet ,,,harmonica,,accordion ,bagpipe ,,etc .. DURING PLAYING THE REED SPENDS 50 PERCENT OF ITS TIME COMPLETELY CLOSED, AGAINST THE RAILS,,,, 25 PERCENT COMPLETELY OPEN AND 25 PERCENT FLUTTERING DURING ITS TRAVELS FROM CLOSED TO OPEN POSITION ACTUALLY IT DOES NOT VIBRATE ,IN THE NORMAL SENSE OF THE WORD,,, WHICH ONE WOULD EXPECT ,,THE PITCH IS PRODUCED BY HOW OFTEN EVERY SECOND IT GOES THROUGH THE COMPLETE CYCLE ( HOW OFTEN THE AIR PASSAGE IS OPEN FOR US TO PUSH AIR TROUGH ,,THE MORE CYCLES THE HIGHER THE PITCH) ,,,IF WE THINK ALONG THIS LINE WE UNDERSTAND WHY THE MORE PRESSURE WE PLAY WITH,,, THE LONGER WE CAN PLAY WITHOUT BREATHING ,,,BECAUSE WE CAUSE A BETTER SEAL AS THE FASTER AIR ENTERS THE PIECE QUICKLY AND CAUSES A LOW PRESSURE THAT SIDE OF THE REED,,, THE RESULTANT VACUUM PULLS THE REED INTO A CLOSED POSITION ,,IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE EMAIL ME

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