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Discussion Starter #1
So I played on rigotti reeds, specifically strength 3 Light for 4-5 years and absolutely loved them. This past year, I found that the 3 light might actually be too hard for me when a friend let me use a 2.5 for a while. I was hooked and started using the 2.5 lights and used them consistently for around 6 months. Just recently I realized that I was actually capable of a lot more on the horn with the 3 lights so I took a few 3 lights and tried to play them. And it was impossible. Every reed was stuffy and I was putting an insane amount of air into the horn. I’m dumbfounded as I played the 3’s easily for 4-5 years and now I can barely get a sound out of them. Does anyone have any idea why this is? To do with my lungs having adjusted to the 2.5s perhaps? I thought I’d post the question here as I’m extremely confused and it’s really quite frustrating to remember how easy (and great) it was to play those 3’s and now I just can’t play them at all.
 

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Your embouchure has weakened.
A few weeks using the harder reeds and the muscles will regain their former strength.
 

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There’s absolutely no reason any player who normally plays a 2.5 reed of any brand to not be able to play a 3 of the same brand at all. Perhaps you got a stiff box of 3’s or a really light 2.5, but really, 1/2 strength difference shouldn’t be that drastic. Are they warped? Flatten them. How’s the table/ facing on your mouthpiece? How many leaks were you powering through on soft reeds?
 

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You don't say what horn you are playing, but it does sound like your embouchure strength has dropped, and you are compensating with more airstream and maybe a leaking embouchure. Go back to fundamentals with your embouchure. Even check your embouchure position on the mouthpiece.
 

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Did the reeds you took a break from possibly dry out? You might have been using lip pressure on the less resistant reeds to shorten the facing when desired , and can't easily do that with the more resistant reeds. That might cause you to clamp down using the more resistant reeds and that could mess with a weakened embouchure.
 

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Are u using a vintage or just an old HR piece? Maybe over time it has suffered some distortion and now your regular 3 reeds feel like hell...Just saying...
 

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I'm curious as to what "capable of a lot more on the horn" means? It does sound like the reeds are just harder than what you are presently used to though with reeds you never know for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you so much everyone for all the help. So I definitely think that my embouchuee muscles have weakened due to the reed strength but I also think it might be the box, it was quite old and possible a bit dry so I’m going to pick up a fresh box and see what happens. I’m playing on the same horn and piece as before so it’s definitely the muscle part. From hfrank- it is a vintage piece so maybe it’s changed since the reed change? And from KeithL - basically I mean that on the 3’s a lot of playing was easier, mostly things like articulations, volume and altissimo so I’m definitely going to work toward getting the 3’s back in my routine and get those muscles strengthened again. Thanks again!
 

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Well barring any mouthpiece change in the interim (I'm assuming that didn't happen but it is not mentioned), I would not at all rule out shoddy Rigotti quality control... Time was, I would never have believed that could happen, because I always loved their tenor reeds and one of many great things about them was how consistently good each and every reed was, to include meticulous and precise control of strength according to their scale.
But you will find on here a post I started recently (like a year ago) in which I drew attention to a box of Rigotti baritone reeds that was WAY off the scale, way too hard. Every reed in the box was exactly the same strength, so that aspect of QC was in place... but I'm convinced that the box and the reeds in it were mislabeled and I said in that post that I was quite disappointed in Rigotti.
I suppose some leaks that showed up in your horn in the interim could be a factor, but my money says you got an incorrectly marked box of #3 "lites".
 

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You say you changed from 3 lights to 2.5 lights. That's actually a pretty big change since you skipped down passing up 2.5 strong and 2.5 medium. When I first started playing Rigottis, I tried all of those sizes and found the 2.5 light & medium to be noticeably softer than 2.5 strong. I also find the 3 lights to be stronger still, but I tend to play 2.5 strong and 3 light interchangeably. They are pretty close, but still different. So you might want to try a 2.5 strong and see how it works for you.

Having said all that, if you get used to a softer strength reed, then pick up a significantly harder reed, it will feel very resistant. It's partly a matter of what you get used to. My point is a 3 light is significantly harder than a 2.5 light. Try something in between (2.5 med or strong).
 

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Its like going from a 2 to a 3 - a whole step. The softer reed was easier so you basically got 'lazy'. Now that may not be a bad thing - there's no prize for using a hard reed. If you liked your sound with the softer reed and looser embouchure, why not just continue in that direction and learn to work back in the things you think you can do better with the harder reed?


BTW, don't mind me. I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for playing 'devil's advocate' - you know, the 'what if' guy. :)
 

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Although I can play harder reeds I don’t have any wish to, there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing softer reeds.

I do too and have no trouble to sound big, the only thing is that reeds don’t last as long as harder reed might (but a friend keeps on insisting that he kills harder reeds after 3 hours playing...).

Old school players were all about playing lollypop sticks and huge chambers, I guess I am not of that school.
 
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