Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Plastic Reed

User ID: 0032624
Jul 2nd 11:01 AM
My I know something for plastic reed (alto use):

1) What's the difference between plastic reed & fiber reed? If they are different thing, what's the different on sound/tone?

2) How many manufacturer produce the plastic reed & which are the best?

3) I heard plastic reed's sound are very aggressive, loud, bright & explosive. Is it correct? If so, it's that it sound like a small chamber MP?

4) Plastic reed doesn't need soaking process?

5) If I use No. 2 reed, what hardness for plastic I should try? Or plastic don't have no. of hardness?

6) What's your overall comment about plastic reed?
User ID: 8868883
Jul 2nd 11:10 AM
1) Simply made of different stuff - i.e. plastic, carbon fibre etc instead of cane. The sound of the different makes varies, perhaps in general an artificial reed has a harder tone.
2) Legere, Bari, Hahn, Fibracell are the ones I can think of. I like the Hahn ones, I haven't tried the others.
3) Not necessarily so, the great thing with Hahn reeds is that they are totally stable and reliable. I use small chamber mouthpieces and they work fine for me.
4) Sure don't!
5) I find Hahn reeds are slightly softer than Vandoren for a given number - try a 2.5. Legere reeds come in .25 strengths - i.e 2.75, 3.5, 2.25 etc.
6) They play well straight out of the box, last for ages and don't need playing in. If you double on multiple saxes or other instruments, this is good as it will always be ready to go. A Hahn won't sound as good as the very best cane reed, but it will sound better than most cane reeds. I like them as the response is even and they play especially well in the upper and altissimo register. One Hahn reed costs the same as a box of ordinary reeds.
User ID: 9760743
Jul 2nd 11:37 AM
I agree with SteveW,

The Hahn's, in my opinion, play the best of all the synthetics. I also find, especially in tenor, they play 1/2 strength softer.


User ID: 0624334
Jul 2nd 6:12 PM
I'm a huge fan of Legere. These things can last about a year, they sound great, and they are more durable than cane. I use a 2 3/4 size reed, but I play a 3.5 vandoren (I think. It's been a while. I've been playing plastic for so long)
User ID: 9461303
Jul 2nd 9:24 PM
any other opinions on "syntheticly manufactured" (sounds kool) reeds?

Im trying to decide which one to buy....
User ID: 8666863
Jul 3rd 1:16 AM
1) 0.5 strength less than the cane reed you're using, that's what I see you guys talking. And, same statement from Legere homepage (for Java reed)

But Fibracell doesn't say this, their comparison
chart is indicated: Java No. 2 = Fibracell No. 1/2. Anybody who have experience to use Fibracell before?


2) Only S2000 (by BG) & Fibracell is available in my area. Anybody who tried S2000 before?

User ID: 9760743
Jul 3rd 1:20 AM
You'll need to buy several different types. I tried Bari, Lejere, and Fibracell before I settled on the Hahn's.

The Lejere's play a little harder (almost 1 full strength) than what they are rated. The Bari's were pretty close in strength ratings. The Hahn's play about 1/2 strength softer, especially on tenor. Fibracells I liked on alto, played medium hard compared to 2 1/2 on reg. reeds.

After trying several different strengths, I've settled exclusively on the Hahn reeds. Alto size 2 1/2 and 3. Tenor 3 and 3 1/2. Soprano 2 1/2 and 3. I usually practice with a size slightly softer than when I play a gig.

User ID: 9983153
Jul 3rd 1:37 AM
I actually found very little difference between the Hahn 2, 2.5 and 3 - I use the 3 whereas I use a 2.5 Vandoren cane reed. So, alto, if you get a Hahn go at least half a strength HARDER than your cane reed. Remember, though, many cane reeds - eg Java - are softer still for a given number than a Vandoren, so its not that simple.
User ID: 8109723
Jul 3rd 1:48 AM
Fibracell (one side coated with plastic film) is almost like other cane reeds (Vintage/Prestige). It gets softer as you play on.
Plasticover (2 side coated with black paint) is at least 1/2 strength stiffer. It doesn't show any sign of softening.
Plasticove is longer lasting than Fibracell but 1/5 the price of Fibracell.
User ID: 8666863
Jul 3rd 4:42 AM
Bari Star Reed & Bari Reed, which one is the Plastic/Fiber reed? Any comment about theri plastic reed?

If both are plastic reed, which you will suggest for alto?

If I use Java No. 2 for alto, what strength should I take for Bari plastic reed (Soft or medium soft)?
User ID: 8026483
Jul 3rd 9:23 AM
I use plasticovers on soprano and tenor. They only last as long as cane, but they are brighter and are always ready to go so I don't worry about one drying out. On alto, though, the timbre is affected adversely, so I stick with cane. I've worked too long and hard to achieve the sound I got out of the alto to compromise it; however, I just tried the silicone-drop power tone baffles in the tenor and the alto. They are both more powerful, and the alto timbre doesn't suffer.
User ID: 0150524
Jul 5th 3:39 PM
I got a Hahn alto reed It has a black strip of rubber which is stuck on to it with a clear sticky tape do you remove it or is it optional to leave it on according to your taste sound that is ?
Paul C.
User ID: 9050343
Jul 6th 9:37 AM
Synthetic reeds got a bad reputation many years ago, from the 1950's, with some of the very early reeds such as the Brilhart Fibercane and another plastic reed, whose name I do not remember.

Yes, these sounded bad, but there were not a lot of choice of materials or methods. You must give them credit for trying.

But there are players and teachers who would paint all synthetic reeds with the same brush... NO, current synthetic reeds are very good, and most not as buzzy or harsh sounding as those old reeds.

Dave Schaffer at MIRI Corp, makers of Fibracell, started with the idea of the old Fibercane reed. But he applied modern materials to the problem. He spent 20 years improving these reeds, and now has a reed whose tone, in actual blind listening tests, cannot be distinguished from good cane reeds. I have done this on a more informal basis, myself. No, listeners cannot tell. I have also had players play my saxes and not know the reeds were synthetic, and they were just positive the reeds were cane reeds.

Getting the correct strength is vital, as synthetic reeds do not "break in" as do cane reeds.

And, finally, in my opinion, THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE.
User ID: 8924643
Jul 10th 1:14 AM
Hi Paul,

I agreed with you this. I bought a Fibracell 2.5 strength & Bari Star Reed (Soft) last week for my Meyer M5 & Yana A-901. Fibracell work very well, I like it more than my pervious Java (No. 2). For Bari Star, although it's a soft version, it's very hard and spent me a lot of air.

Also, after using the Fribracell several time, I find this Synthetic reed need sometime to warm up to get good sound. For me, it takes about 10 to 15 then the sound is being change (getting better). Is it normal or my own problem (skill problem, need time to warm up)? Usually I soak it into warm water for a few seconds although I know soaking is not necessary.

By the way, may I have your suggestion in one thing. I have problem to get high notes (left hand side key from Eb to F#) on my Meyer M5 (TIP OPENING = 70) & Fribracell & Java reed. I think one reason is Meyer M5 is too close, not much air can go inside. I have to spend a lot of air to play these notes. When I use Jumbo Java A55 & Yana #7 (Tip opening = 95), much more easy to play high notes. However, I don't like their sound.

In order more easy to play teh high notes, do you think I need a more opening MP to get these high notes?