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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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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.
You may be right, but I don't really understand why.
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...
I have to disagree, unless again I'm misunderstanding. But I'd also have to say just because something is on the internet doesn't make it right. It may be useful if you can track that site down because there may be more to it of course.
 

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Here we go, it was Theo Wanne's site:

The long facing curve accentuates the lower register of the horn. The sound becomes especially lush and reedy sounding across all registers. Because more of the thick part of the reed is now vibrating, there is also more resistance and back pressure while blowing into the horn. A long facing makes the mouthpiece feel like a larger tip opening than it actually is. A lot of people who like a warm vintage and reedy sound love long facing curves. Anyone wanting a quick responding mouthpiece though will not want a long facing curve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Cue someone who makes reeds or mouthpieces to gives us the authoritative answer... for their product ;)
(as above)
 

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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."

Sure but, the break, or where the reed 'leaves' the table is the facing length. That doesn't have a lot to do with what happens after that, going toward the tip. The amount of reed not in contact with the table is the same, irrespective of the curve "style"

I would think with a longer facing, the reed is easier to 'get started' so it would resemble a smaller tip opening (all other things equal).

Some voice of expertise is needed here...
 

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Some voice of expertise is needed here...
True, but I'm not sure it would matter that much to get some sort of definitive answer regarding how facing length &/or tip opening correlates to harder or softer reeds. Simply because every player has different preferences.

Really, the only way to determine what size and brand reed to use on your mpc is to try different reeds on the mpc and find out what works best for you.
 

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What Theo wrote sounds proper, but as an engineer, I think he missed an important part of the process. It is true that with a longer lie, the reed break point moves further back toward he table where the reed is thicker. But at the same time, that makes the lever arm for flexing the reed longer. To seal, the tip needs to move on the order of 0.100 inches. Every part of the reed that is closer to the table than the tip moves a shorter distance. At the break point where the reed is thickest, there is almost no motion required. So a longer lie makes it easier for the part of the reed that needs to move the most, to move the most. With a longer lie, sometimes the highest register notes get thin or pinch off. This is because it really is is easier to close off the tip with a long lie. Even though the reed is thicker near the table, it does not stiffen the response.
 

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Well I understand that these latest arguments hold if the facing curves are identical in nature (e.g. radial).
Change that, and my guess is that none of the statements (including Wanne's) correlating tip opening and facing length would hold !
 

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However, to go closer to the original post, I can say that these days I tend to keep one good reed of both the closest stronger and (closest) weaker variety of the reed strength I usually play, and check regularly how it goes with these. Just to keep in touch with what is possible, and might offer...
 

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This may have been a thread already but after a search, I didn't see it. I'd like to know how you know when it's time to try a 3 when you've been playing on a 2 1/2 and also does the tightness of the embouchure change and require more strength? I ask because I bought a bunch of different reeds. This is probably a distraction, since I am just learning, but I yearn to feel that I have the best reed and strength. I like the Legères, but have cane from Rico, Vandoren blue and some black coated Plasticovers. I also bought a Vandoren 3. My theory is to play through them over a two hour session, then at the end do a few minutes a day with the 3 as an exercise. Is this a positive or negative value in your opinions? My feeling is that it's harder to produce a note on the 3, but tightening the mouth seems to make it easier.

Should the mouth muscles change in effort with a stronger reed, or is it just a matter of breath?
The fact that you play for at least two hours a day is great. I'm in Jr. High and my great interest in soprano for only two years has brought me to a size three Vandoren V12 (sometimes legere signature 2.75) (and yes I checked all you guys tips and made sure a 3 was right for me), on a Yamaha intermediate sop (the neck doesn't come off ): ), and to an advanced intermediate level, playing easy Bach, Quantz, and Ferling ( I don't think Quantz and Ferling get that hard) out of the Advanced Rubank Duet book for Sax and Clarinet by H. Voxman. (I have not learned music theory at all and doesn't know how to improvise at all, so I'll play some Jazz if someone can find some decent sheet music for my level. I found a pdf of all John Coltrane's songs, or close to all, for free online but those are still too hard, but I have gotten the first page and a half of Blue Train.) I have not upgraded my mouthpiece or reed yet. I am still using the shelf 4c mouthpiece and I don't think the lig even has a name.) And I've done all this without a single lesson or band instructor on sop. And I didn't even play every day the first half year. Now I play usually 30 minutes a day. Your enthusiasm playing 2 hours a day - even if you only play one - will bring you far and fast. Keep up your enthusiasm.
 

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Getting back to the original post: Use the softest reed that will allow you do you what you musically want to. Moving up to a harder reed when you're comfortable with your current setup, and without a good musical reason, makes no sense. This isn't weight training. If you want to develop your embouchure, play more long tones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
@krane - that's great! Being able to express yourself on an instrument will serve you well for the rest of your life! Keep up the good work!
@lomaserena That's a great simple way to state what has been drummed into me from all sides here :)

I started on clarinet maybe 60 years ago, and quit after a year or two, nor was I any good at it. At some point I smashed the clarinet against a chair, because I couldn't stop the squeaks. My folks got it glued together. It was in the days when all schools had bands and orchestras and music in America. However, right around the time puberty kicked in, I discovered the appeal guitar had for girls and that sealed the death warrant for wind instruments. Had I only known then what I know now: that the tongue on a mouthpiece is mightier than a pick on strings. I've listened to almost nothing but saxes and and pianos for the past 50 years. Bird, Trane, Sonny, Joe Henderson, Wayne, then Michael Brecker and Kenny Garrett. In the years I have left, there's no way I can come close to any of that, but I hope to be able to say something in my own way. For practice, I've learned a few classic melodies like You Don't Know What Love Is, Days of Wine and Roses, Song for My Father and such. When I can play those twice in a row without sounding bad, that will be the first step. At the moment, after six months, I can get through maybe half without a clinker or squeak.
The reed thing is a part of the formula, and trying to understand mouthpieces, hence this post. But because I can already hear the music, the hardest part is breathing and control. The search for a reed is vast, I have at this point tried most of the reed types between 2 and 3, a few brands of bamboo like Vandoren (in several 'flavors') and Rico.
I interrupt my life story to put the alto on and blow some long notes.

Cheers!
 

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The mouthpiece fetish isn't an illusion. The two most important parts to a sax player's sound are the player themselves and the mouthpiece. Certain mouthpieces work for a certain players while most do not. You have to experiment to find the right one. The hundreds spent on mouthpieces matter more to tone quality than the thousands spent on the saxophone itself. (a professional sax will assist in achieving a more refined tone also but the main benefits of a professional level sax are articulation and intonation. You can play faster, with better altissimo and subtones and more in tune with a better quality sax that is matched to your playing style)
 

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Had I only known then what I know now: that the tongue on a mouthpiece is mightier than a pick on strings.
It is really hard to say which is the best.
According to the legend Apollo with his lyre competed against Marsyas and his flute to find out who is the best.
Marsyas started by playing some really wild grooves that set the floor on fire and the Muses who were the jury got really excited and were ready to announce him winner.
But Apollo played the easy listening melodramatic Kenny G card and drove the muses to tears and so they call it a draw.
Then Apollo started playing the lyre on the back of his head ala Jimi Hendrix and the muses were sold.
Some say that Apollos' victory was politically motivated, others that Marsyas being a satyr had his mind elsewhere. What we know is that Marsyas didnt lose only the competition but also his life for his arrogance to go against the God

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsyas
 

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It is really hard to say which is the best.
According to the legend Apollo with his lyre competed against Marsyas and his flute to find out who is the best.
Marsyas started by playing some really wild grooves that set the floor on fire and the Muses who were the jury got really excited and were ready to announce him winner.
But Apollo played the easy listening melodramatic Kenny G card and drove the muses to tears and so they call it a draw.
Then Apollo started playing the lyre on the back of his head ala Jimi Hendrix and the muses were sold.
Some say that Apollos' victory was politically motivated, others that Marsyas being a satyr had his mind elsewhere. What we know is that Marsyas didnt lose only the competition but also his life for his arrogance to go against the God

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsyas
As you are experiencing the seemingly infinite variables to getting a good sound out of a saxophone, stabilizing and or eliminating as many as possible will help your journey. I would like to share my experience with reeds and, the biggest help has been switching to a synthetic reed. An awesome playing cane reed may have given you a great last session and the next time you "moisten it up" it may sound terrible for a variety of reasons. Also, you buy a box of cane reeds and only a fraction may be acceptable as they are. You can work them, reed rush, knife, sandpaper, possibly trimming and for me it's not time well spent. With developing your embouchure, a constant and dependable reed will only help. A quality synthetic reed will be reliable with no moistening required and, you can rely on a replacement to perform like the last one. I expect this will get the usual argument about cane reeds getting a warmer, richer, better, "more natural sound. I gave up the idiosyncrasies of cane about 7 years ago and never regretted it. I have tried a half dozen manufacturers and Legere, Hartmann and Forestone have come out on top. They will sound different on different mouthpieces particularly metal versus hard rubber. I know many players with a great sound who use synthetics and they are continuing to evolve. I make this bold prediction that, in 10 years, cane will be a thing of the past. Save yourself some grief, stick with one mouthpiece you like for a year or so that is fairly easy (not too easy) to play and play a medium soft to medium Legere. When you sound good on your mouthpiece reed combination, chances are you will be able to sound good on almost any well set up horn. Remember this "chain of sound" from most impact to least impact - 1st, the player, 2nd, the mouthpiece (and reed), 3rd, the neck, and lastly the horn.
 

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Here's the odd strength dilemma I've found myself in:

Prior to this January I hadn't really touched my horn in 15 years (long story). Since then I've been trying a range of reed strengths and cuts (specifically ZZs, RJS Filed and Unfiled). I seem to get my best sound top to bottom on an RJS 3S Unfiled. The problem is because I'd been inactive so long my chops were gone, and right now the 3S are still a bit too hard to blow for an extended practice session. My endurance is best with the ZZ 2 1/2, but I don't get a great sound out of those from about B2 and above (ditto RJS 2S and 2H). I'm incorporating some daily long tones into my practice to build my strength back up but it's not a fun place to be in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
Save yourself some grief, stick with one mouthpiece you like for a year or so that is fairly easy (not too easy) to play and play a medium soft to medium Legere.
As it happens, I have bought a "collection" of Legère, from 2 to 3 and have been experimenting with them. However, I find that all the synthetics seem to get too wet after a while of playing, and the sound and feel suffer from this. At this point I've invested probably $200 in reeds, and as much in two mouthpieces, and I don't even own the alto! The Selmer $50 mouthpiece is the better of the two, I'm fairly happy with it. I know the musician behind all the technology is where the sound comes from. For about 50 years, I've answered all the questions about guitars and strings with a gesture, showing my right hand, palm up, "it's here..." (pointing to the guitar) "... not here!"
 
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