Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all,

I first saw the Vandoren reed strength comparison chart in a store. I was surprised to see what it shows, though. I'm an inexperienced alto student, but I have decent knowledge of physics and a longtime experience with music, despite my beginner level on sax.

I have an ebonite mouthpiece. The instrument is a rental. It came with (I think, probably an entry-level Selmer) ebonite mouthpiece. It's too worn to see the brand.

A Standard Vandoren "Blue" 2 1/2 is what I've been practicing on for months. I also bought some ZZ and V21 a while back, just to explore. What my initial surprise about the chart is, to me when I play the ZZ, it feels to me like a 3, or at least, harder than the other 2 1/2. The V21 is also more like a 3. I go back and forth and feel like the non-standard reeds are both much harder to get a note on. Yet the chart looks like it's saying the a 2 1/2 ZZ is equivalent to a 2 Blue.

What do you folks think?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,381 Posts
Welcome to SOTW!

Reed charts are often pretty inaccurate because they don't take the mouthpiece into account. I'm guessing this is what's happening: on your specific mouthpiece, certain reeds "fit" better, and so they're more free-blowing. Not to say you can't play a different reed, but you'll need to account for how it fits the mouthpiece with a change in strength.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
They also don't (generally) take into account which sax you're playing - relative strengths for soprano, alto, tenor, etc. are different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the amazingly quick and pertinent replies! Of course I am renting an instrument, so it's not a sax I chose for myself. I did buy a mouthpiece, but because a good one is an investment, I bought the cheaper one. A bought a little better one yesterday, a V16. At this point, I'm not even certain I want to play alto. I'm learning on it because no one had a tenor to rent around here :)
Slight OT, I've been on the net since its existence and I am frequently amazed at how great private forums are. It's no surprise that there's excellent materiel here. What's more surprising is when i needed some info on an obscure brand of radiator. I found a site that talks about nothing but electric radiators! That's a little like if this forum was only about alto! I hope to pose some new questions as I approach my 6 month anniversary of alto learning. I started on clarinet, but that was about 6 decades ago. I could still almost slowly play a chromatic scale the first time I picked up the alto.

I also bought a bunch of other reeds, like the black ones (D'addario Plasticover) and a Bari synthetic. With the newer mouthpiece, the black ones don't sound bad.

Thanks again!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,452 Posts
Reed charts like this are typically good for a rough comparison, but unfortunately individual reeds have such high variability that the chart may seem to be wonky. I know from long experience and from all charts that regular Rico is a little softer than Rico Royal, but recently bought a 3-pack of Rico just for grins and they were significantly harder than most of my Royals in the same strength. Just the way it goes with reeds. If you ever find a reed brand/strength you like, get as many of them as you can before they change, because change is what the reed makers do best.
One thing many players are doing is finding a synthetic they can use which eliminates all the hassles of using cane. I'm using Fibracell now on everything but tenor, and I'm looking for the right synthetic for it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I replied with thanks to all your good comments, but perhaps I didn't submit after all? Or it's waiting for approval. Anyway, THANKS!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,825 Posts
I've not tried the V21 reeds, but from my experience (limited, because I'm a Rigotti and D'Addario guy) the Vandoren chart is pretty accurate. The Blue Box (standard) reeds are harder than their counterparts with the same designation.

I'm confused by your initial post, randulo. Are you playing just one Vandoren reed? Quoting: "A Standard Vandoren "Blue" 2 1/2 is what I've been practicing on for months." Or have you played several? It's really best to play a different reed each day, and rotate among 3 or 4 of them. And try to be sensitive to when the reeds start to "die". If you've played the same reed or reeds for several months, then certainly the strength has diminished, and comparisons will not be accurate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Are you playing just one Vandoren reed?
No, have a bunch of different reeds now and probably will get more. As for the "Blue", I have two boxes of them. I find a lot of differences in them, even from the same box. One or two have felt much better and I tend to keep them longer. My teacher recommended keeping no more than two or three at a time.
Right now, with the newer mouthpiece, I find the black coated Plasticovers easier to play, but they have a tinnier sound. The Vandoren (whether V21, ZZ or Blue) are much harder to play but have a much better sound and less squeaks.
I also bought a 3 yesterday (Vandoren Blue) to compare on my old mouthpiece.
Being a musician for years, I'm probably taking on way too much at once, musically and physically with reeds and such. I do play long notes until I can't stand it anymore, though, before moving on to whole tone scales and such. :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
7,906 Posts
Welcome to SOTW!

Reed charts are often pretty inaccurate because they don't take the mouthpiece into account. I'm guessing this is what's happening: on your specific mouthpiece, certain reeds "fit" better, and so they're more free-blowing. Not to say you can't play a different reed, but you'll need to account for how it fits the mouthpiece with a change in strength.
Is that the reeds or the mouthpiece?
I have often found reed strengths to be more consistent than facings or tip openings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Guy & gals, this is a lot of my own confusion; there are so many variables! And let's face it, I asked for opinions, but these too will vary with each person's experience, right? The chart surprised me because of my feeling about the three different Vandoren reeds I actually used. To me, if I had to blow harder, it felt like a 3, not a 2 1/2. The chart shows the same reed as equivalent to a 2! ANyway, all the comments are informative, thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,210 Posts
To add more variables. Often reads take a while to settle down from new to playable. People have different rights and rituals to initiate new reads, which themselves depend a bit on the skills and experience of the player; and model of reed. SOTW, YouTube etc. have many examples of prepping reeds.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
1,988 Posts
Different reeds models have a different cut.

Different streght for the same reed model/cut are just made with a cane of different density (the denser the cane, the stiffer is the reed).

Then... different models can be made a out a different part of the raw cane, in order to have thinner or thicker fibers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
To add more variables. Often reads take a while to settle down from new to playable.
Totally get that about reeds settling! It's why I keep several around. One of them stayed really comfortable for two weeks or more, while others suck out of the box, but get better after some playing, and then "fade". One of them I saw a YT was to keep them soaked in mouthwash. I'm messing with a couple of synthetic reeds, now, too. I saw the survey here that showed most were using them. I found that really surprising.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I saw some recommendations in a thread here for the V16 B7 piece. Mine is an A6 M (not S+). If any of you have any reed suggestions for this piece, I'd be happy to try them and give my feedback as a beginner.

Edit: I just now noticed Vandoren make aV16 reed. Is that the better choice? I don't have any... yet.
Meanwhile, I found Vandoren's chart with strengths: http://www.vandoren-en.com/file/187111/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,210 Posts
What problem are you trying to solve?

I recon most people can get a reasonable sound out of blue box reeds. Seems like they are a baseline. Maturing and advanced players get more intricate with reeds etc.
I know I'm slow, but it took me a long time (years) to get to a stage where I can go "yeh, that's the reed not me"... sometimes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
What problem are you trying to solve? I recon most people can get a reasonable sound out of blue box reeds.
No problem at all. I think you're right about the blue, it's what the store recommended, they're all sax players there. It's just that I'm probably too much in a hurry to try new stuff. I've listened to saxophone for over fifty years and have a lot of sound in my head. I'm also hampered by the fact that I'm on a rented fairly low-quality instrument. Matching mouthpieces and reeds to it is in some ways a waste. Anyway, thanks to all for chiming in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
266 Posts
Speaking of paradoxal effects, I am currently trying a few kinds of reeds, among which the Alexander Superial in strengths 2.5 and 3 (for alto sax).
While the 3 is a dream, the 2.5 is extremely stuffy.
These reeds being new, the 'fatigue' effect (by which I mean the migration of the effective reed strength from one initial value to a lower value) is not at play here.

Of course, that may be just a singular abnormality since I am only talking about one reed of each, so this strange example has no real statistical/general value (for example I didn't check about cracks in the reed yet).
Anyway, I have others in the same make and strengths, so I will check how it goes.

But, it merely shows that once in a while, one can find a strange result with respect to what is statistically expected.

By the way does anyone know how reed strengths are evaluated by reed makers for them to stamp ? (but maybe this question has already been asked and/or deserves its own thread...)
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top