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Unless you have a specific sound concept in mind that you can achieve easier with a harder reed, what's the point of moving up? As others have said already. When you are a beginner just stick the that medium size reed. When you get a clear picture of the sound you want you can either move up, stay there or go softer. Yes softer doesn't mean easier. You are not lifting weights with your lips, you are developing a steady airstream and a " personal voicing" on a every register ( even individual notes) of the horn. Getting a great sound is hard enough without adding extra things that might just get in your way. I ( like many of us) can play perfectly on a 4 on my set up, but you know what? I hate the extra dry- asthmatic sound I have to fight specially on that middle D and in the low register when I use hard reeds. Some people might love it, but I truly hate it. So it's not a GOAL to play this or that reed size. It's just playing THE ONE that doesn't get in YOUR way, so you don't even have to think about the reed. There are so many variables that influence your choice of reed, without including the obvious set up. For an instance if you are a naturally bright player and you are aiming for a darker sound perhaps a slightly harder reed might make it easier and it works the other way round. On the other hand if you are a darker player you don't need to change anything. Please keep in mind that you have to darken/brighten your tone on your own. The reed helps but it doesn't do it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
The Yam I'm looking at is a YAS-280. There may be used one coming back to the store. The rental alto is a Jupiter JAS-769. No idea what that's worth these days.
@pete I've been on your site for 5 months, very cool.
@nefertiti I'll have to look up facing curves
@nigeld thanks for that. Yamaha has a good rep (I own a WX7 in fact). I may have a good price on the Jupiter I'm renting, it's due back next week. If I buy it, they'll discount the rent (about $200). Another solution is to bring one back from the USA. The hardest part is to know if I really want to buy. I've only been playing for 6 months, but I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
@hfrank "playing THE ONE that doesn't get in YOUR way"
Sure, but you have to experiment to know which one that is, whether reed, mouthpiece or instrument. I have a bunch of reeds including a 2 and a 3, some in-betweens in Legere (2 1/4 etc), and I'm messing around with them. So far, though, I think I'll archive the 3 for a while given the answers here. I'm not crazy about the 2, and I guess most people start at 2 1/2, at least most adults. There's no compelling reason to push it, as I've been told here.

(I'm getting a really slow response from the forum today, even a quote takes minutes.)
 

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A lot of it has to do with facing curves also. If you have a real long facing curve you might be able to play a 3 1/2 or 4 reed. A short facing curve maybe a 2 1/2. I'd be curious how long the curves are on the piece of the guys playing 4s. I would bet they are pretty long..........
Isn't it the other way around? Longer facing = softer reed?
 

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I've only been playing for 6 months, but I love it.
randulo, your enthusiasm is great, and as I know you're aware, it will carry you far. One thing about a wind instrument, as opposed to guitar, keys, etc, is it takes a considerable amount of time to get your sound, intonation, articulation, etc, together (horn players never really stop working on their tone). So after only 6 months, it's probably far too soon to go on a serious mpc/horn/reed search. Well, a good horn is nice to have up front, or for sure one that is in good playing condition. But once you have a horn that plays decently, your time is better spent working on tone and technique. No harm in doing some research and asking questions on here in the meantime, but with a bit more time on the horn you'll be better able to choose a reed or mpc that suits you. But don't sabotage your current effort by playing a reed that is too hard. If you think the 2 is too soft, try a 2 1/2. But also keep in mind that reeds vary a lot--that 2 might be an anomaly; you really need a box of reeds of any given brand/size to test them out (can get expensive).

Hey, on the slow response doing a quote, there's a glitch going on. You can overcome it by double clicking on the 'reply with quote' button.
 

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"Isn't it the other way around? Longer facing = softer reed?"


No!
 

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Isn't it the other way around? Longer facing = softer reed?
What's the meaning of your "=" sign?
If it means the reed feels softer (same reed strength, same tip opening of course) with a longer facing, that's true. OTOH, if you mean that one should use a softer reed with a longer facing, I think that's mistaken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
@JL, I'm getting that and it's very logical. One shouldn't be distracted by a million variables (which is what a wind instrument has). I do try to play long notes and work on tone. I practice 2 hours a day when I can and I do have a collection of different 2 1/2 reeds. I love that there's so much out there, like this place. I started on guitar in 1960's, there was little available except maybe "music minus one" vinyl! Now I have the iReal Pro, some tracks by Peter Erskine, many online resources like Pete's site, this forum, and at least 100 male and female sax players offering short free lessons on various topics. I totally get it, I'm 71 this month, I've had a lot of experience learning other things, BUT - when you have the music in your head, it's not easy to patiently play what you should! I'm playing scales and arpeggios, but obviously I know a number of these, so again, unlike a beginning music student, I'm having trouble containing it all.
I promise I will no longer try the 3 until there seems to be a good reason.

It will happen. I'm writing a SF story where the main character is 102. He doesn't look over 100! That's exactly the way I feel today.

Thank you all!
 

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If the curve is shorter it is usually a more of a radical steeper curve. A hard reed will feel harder as it tries to curve to that steeper incline. A softer reed will have an easier time but still have some resistance because of the curve. A longer curve will have a more gradual curve and a harder reed will have more of a gentle curve to bend to but a soft reed will feel like a wet noodle on it giving no resistance what so ever and feeling too soft. That is the way it has been explained to me........
 

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Right on randulo! And that's very cool you played guitar with Red Holloway (one of my favorite sax players for sure). You must know the music well, chord changes, etc. So it's just a matter of learning and adjusting to the sax. Not easy because it's such a different technique, but it has to help to know the music.

- when you have the music in your head, it's not easy to patiently play what you should! I'm playing scales and arpeggios, but obviously I know a number of these, so again, unlike a beginning music student, I'm having trouble containing it all.
Man, do I know what you mean about that. I've been playing sax since high school back in the '60s and I well remember wanting to play everything I hear immediately. And I still struggle with that after all these years. Carry on....
 

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I switched to a D'Addario mouthpiece a few months ago. Before I was using 3.5, but I moved down to 3 because this mouthpiece is more resistant. What piece you're using is a big factor in what reed strength you should use, even beyond tip openings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
What piece you're using is a big factor in what reed strength you should use, even beyond tip openings.
Very true! I happen to have three pieces, but settled on the first one I bought. (I was maybe illogically averse to using the rental mouthpiece.) I am confused about the gap (is that even the word?), the opening. I have a Vandoren V16 A6. What does the A6 mean and which direction do the values go? Looking at the mouthpiece with a reed on it, the space between the reed and the piece is bigger. The 6 must be that distance? The first one is a Selmer Prologue (I don't see a number on it). Topic drift, I hope it's ok in "my own" thread?
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I looked up the two mouthpieces and lo and behold, the Vandoren opening is 1.96 and the Selmer 1.55. There are other parameters though, it's pretty confusing.
 

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I looked up the two mouthpieces and lo and behold, the Vandoren opening is 1.96 and the Selmer 1.55. There are other parameters though, it's pretty confusing.
Yes it can be confusing. Many people assume the main parameter they need is the tip opening, but two mouthpieces with the same opening can have very different responses. A longer facing curve (ie the curve of the rails between the tip and where the reed is first in contact with the mouthpiece) can have just as much bearing on the response. Also the internal volume can also have a huge impact. All of these parameters affect the sound as well as the reposes and resistance you feel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
The Vandoren V16 opening is 25% bigger though, and I can definitely feel the need to blow a lot harder. The other problem I have is these lungs are not as strong as those of a 20 year-old :)
I am trying for the comfort, the sound and the pitch stability. Of course having played such a short time, none of these are established values.
 

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If the curve is shorter it is usually a more of a radical steeper curve. A hard reed will feel harder as it tries to curve to that steeper incline. A softer reed will have an easier time but still have some resistance because of the curve. A longer curve will have a more gradual curve and a harder reed will have more of a gentle curve to bend to but a soft reed will feel like a wet noodle on it giving no resistance what so ever and feeling too soft. That is the way it has been explained to me........
I suppose my thinking was that the longer curve means more of the reed vibrating, which would benefit a softer reed.
 

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"I suppose my thinking was that the longer curve means more of the reed vibrating, which would benefit a softer reed. "

If the facing length is the same, for two different types of curve or profile (long/short/gradual/steep), the effective amount of reed vibrating will be the same. ....once it responds. But that is the point afterall.

But I could be wrong in that logic!
 

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I suppose my thinking was that the longer curve means more of the reed vibrating, which would benefit a softer reed.
I am wondering why that would benefit a softer reed? I'm not disputing it, just curious.
 

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Well, my thought was that with a longer facing you're moving the break in the curve further back towards a thicker part of the reed, so the harder reed would be less responsive and more resistant, and you'd want a softer reed to compensate. I'd also read (I can't remember which mpc site I saw it on though, I'll have to track it down) that a longer facing plays like a larger tip opening, and since larger tip openings want a softer reed...
 
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