P Mauriat
Antigua Winds

View Poll Results: How long have you been playing, and what do you think of reeds in general?

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  • Been playing less than 10 years, and reeds suck!

    14 8.86%
  • Been playing 10 years or more, and reeds still suck!

    22 13.92%
  • Been playing less than 10 years, and while I sometimes find a reed that sucks, most play fine.

    49 31.01%
  • Been playing 10 years or more, and while I sometimes find a reed that sucks, most play fine.

    73 46.20%
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Thread: Do Reeds Really Suck Or Is It You?

  1. #1

    Default Do Reeds Really Suck Or Is It You?

    I have a theory that most of the "reeds suck" comments are posted by lesser-experienced players. I'm arbitrarily drawing the line at 10 years of playing experience.

  2. #2

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    i find it goes about half and half. but cane itself is far from perfect so i deal with it.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member michaelbaird's Avatar
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    I think making oboe reeds suck, probably why I don't play it like I used to.
    I've been happy using the cheapest rico reeds I can find. 3 1/2s work well for me on alto and tenor. I've been using 2s on bari.

  4. #4

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    I have found a few bad reeds in my time, but have yet to find a reed that sucks quite as much as I do

    Billy The Fish
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  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member shmuelyosef's Avatar
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    I played piano and brass for many years, and have only begun playing reeds for 7-8 years. About 4 years ago, I transitioned from the "why don't any of these reeds work?" to "what's the big deal bout reeds?" It coincided with my realization that $20 plastic mouthpieces really weren't as good as carefully faced quality pieces. I do still notice how some mouthpieces are more 'reed-friendly' than others.

  6. #6

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    That's pretty much the point I'm trying to get across.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    In general I don't think the reeds of today are as good in overall quality as reeds produced a couple of decades ago. There is less consistancy in the cut and the cane seems to vary a bit more. The big exception I have found to this is the Alexander's reeds. Really nice and they last a long time. I still play more on Hemke's but that has to do with how easy it is to get them.

    These days I'm likely to find a reed or two that needs a little more work than the rest in the box to work the way I want but most of the time I don't have to subject them to drilling.

  8. #8

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    No doubt the cane crop goes through its good and bad cycles. But I don't think the consistency of cuts are any better or worse than they used to be.

  9. #9
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    I first learned sax in 1970 but have not played consecutively since then, so some of you old timers who have been playing all along can help me with this one.

    When I took up sax, one of the first things I learned was how to work on reeds. Most players I knew did at least some scraping; many carried bull rush with them and reed knives. So...how consistently good could the reeds have been in the "good ole days"?

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    I have a unique perspective in that my Grandfather played and had a briefcase full of reeds. I am not kidding.

    Brilhart reeds, old brown box Rico's, Rico Royals, and a variety of others. In general the vamp is cut much nicer than the job today. I haven't played on many of them since I am not sure how they were worked over.

  11. #11

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    I have a book (that I have unfortunately only seen in one music shop in the UK) called 'The Reed DR'. It is a simple home published pamphlet that clearly explains why different reeds sound they way they do and how to sand a little here if the low notes are stuffy or a little there if the middle register is out. It has saved me big bucks on reeds that can easily be fixed instead of thrown out. If anyone is interested, I'll dig it out and see if I can find who published it.

    Short story: Had a great lesson several years ago at a pro tenor player's house. You walk into his home directly into the living room and in the middle of the living room is a coffee table. Only this coffee table is covered in reeds to a depth of several inches. Some had spilt over onto the floor and the things were just everywhere. He saw me straring at them and said: "1st lesson- don't go there. I've got, like, reed problems." Never seen anything like that since. Scary stuff.

  12. #12

    Default

    There are a number of reed adjustment charts available on the web. Check the Links section of the "Reed Drilling" page for a few:

    http://www.geocities.com/reed_drilling/#links

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member michaelbaird's Avatar
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    Usually I play reeds right out of the box. If they don't seem to speak as well, I find very light sanding with 400 grit sandpaper usually does the trick, seems to help seal them to the mouthpiece better. I don't like to adjust them too much, for fear of ruining them. I also have a tendency to play them too long, but does it really matter as long as the tone and attacks are good?

    A heard a story about a student at a Rascher master class. He was constantly griping about how bad his reeds were, and wasted most of his time trying to adjust and fix them. Rascher asked him for his worst reed, and then played his entire concert that night on it.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelbaird
    A heard a story about a student at a Rascher master class. He was constantly griping about how bad his reeds were, and wasted most of his time trying to adjust and fix them. Rascher asked him for his worst reed, and then played his entire concert that night on it.
    Once again, that's my point.

  15. #15
    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    It's easy to draw a parallel to the quest for the perfect mouthpiece. It's very easy to get dragged into, caught up in, obsessed by the "playability" of reeds. I went down that lonely road myself a number of years back only to find myself spending all my precious practice time messing with reeds, trying to get them to play, when I should have been working on making myself a better player. Unfortunately that time is lost forever.

    My solution, I switched to synths. I have played cane and now can easily just pull one out of the box and blow.

    reeds don't suck, players do

  16. #16

    Default

    Don't get me wrong. Despite the antagonistic title of this poll/thread, I'm not trying to say that players who have reed problems "suck". I'm just trying to help them understand that it's more likely to be something other than the reed that's the problem.

    It could be a poorly-finished mouthpiece facing, or a bad match up of reed to facing curve, or too open or closed a tip opening, or too high of a baffle, or any number of things.

    I just don't like to see so many "these reeds suck!" posts, because those are the people who end up wasting time "working on reeds to get them to play". You don't have to do that.

  17. #17
    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billmecca.com
    reeds don't suck, players do
    Just in case some were too busy messing with reeds and didn't get it, that was a joke, a turn of a phrase, a sarcastic comment, and attempt at humor. ;-)

  18. #18
    M Exner's Avatar
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    I agree with the syntheic reeds. (Fibracell) I use them because there is no fuss, no mess, no guessing, no moistening, no wondering how many in that box of reeds will be playable. Mike

  19. #19

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    i don't bother working on reeds, if they don't play i don't keep them. i keep them somewhat in rotation so that they'll last a bit longer, but that's about it. i got more important things to do with my time.

  20. #20

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    I've been playing for just about 10 years. In that time, I think I've had about 5 unplayable reeds. I could work on them, but I usually just gave them away when somebody really needed a reed. Some reeds feel better than others, but I find that if you play on one for a few minutes, you adjust to its tendencies.

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