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Discussion Starter #1
How often do you blame a reed for a particular problem, or bad performance? I read (hah) a lot of threads on here attributing all kinds of issues to the reed; e.g. a chap who missed out on getting first chair in an audition cause of a bad reed, poor intonation problems, not hitting bottom and/or top notes due to a bad reed, squeaking, playing the wrong notes, being out of tune and so on.

I personally remember a big band gig many, many years ago when I was playing baritone, had a solo, made a meal of it (including squeaking on a few notes) and so furious was I that I deliberately split the reed with my thumbnail and showed that as the reason for my crappy solo. I was 16 at the time, so I put some of that behaviour down to that!

Nowadays, I just have plenty of reeds about and if I feel one particular one isn't "working" that day, swap it out and stick it on a pile to be trimmed and filed; I don't remember actively blaming a reed for anything bad I play for a long while and instead try to make a mental note to try and practise that particular thing (like I get chance to do that much anymore).

So, how often do you blame a reed, and how often do you think you're justified in blaming that reed as opposed to some flaw in your technique or simply that you're just on an off day?
 

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It's always the reed. or the mouthpiece. I would never playing something imperfect right?

Just like every time the lead trumpet misses his note, he looks at the trumpet, and has to adjust the tuning slide!! it couldn't possibly be him, it has to be the horn...
 

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Always blame the reed. If you're having a bad day, just blame the reed, pack it in and come talk mouthpieces on SotW.

More seriously, though, bad reeds are a fact of life. At some point, I learned enough about planning ahead to not show up to an audition or a gig on a known bad reed and to always have at least half a dozen decent ones ready to go in case the reed I have starts to fade. Even on a bar gig, I usually have a couple of reeds in the little Vandoren sleeves in my pocket.
 

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Q. How many sax players does it take to change a light bulb?

A. One, but he has to go through 6 boxes of light bulbs to find a good one.
 

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Consistency on saxophone can be disappointing at times, that's probably why they say that John Coltrane kept playing even on his breaks. My guess is he didn't want to loose that groove. Some days I have that great inspiration and go for the horn and get that messed up moment of "ah man something ain't right". Then I spend time with reeds, leak lights and all the things we start messing with...lol. But hey we all have to do what we gotta do to keep it moving and play on.
 

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I don’t blame reeds anymore.
I know the real source of the crap sound.
Now I just wear earmuffs whilst playing.
Been on the same reed now for 18 years and it still sounds just as good.
Gone through a ton of earmuffs though.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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How often do you blame a reed for a particular problem, or bad performance? ?
Even if it is a bad reed, no point in blaming it when you should be blaming the person who chose to use a bad reed and hasn't learned how to improve bad reeds or carry spares.

Carpenter: "I'm sorry your shelves fell down, it's not my fault - my drill was not working properly and my screwdriver was bent."
 

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I don't know if it's me or rigottis but I am using mostly 9 out of 10 reeds from the box. I had terrible times searching for reeds about two years ago. Now I somehow brainwashed myself and use even "not good" reeds (those which are playable but not for gig probably) when practicing and realised that it's mostly the feeling you have not the sound you produce. To be more specific, I do recordings of myself often when I practice and even I know I am playing not a perfect reed (a bit muffly or not responsive enough in upper register or whatever) I can't barely notice that on a recording. Yes, those which squek goes to trash soon but those which produce a bit different timbre are still usable for me.

I heard Chris Potter saying on a masterclass which I attended something in the meaning that you're the only one who know it's a bad reed most of the time.
 

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Even if it is a bad reed, no point in blaming it when you should be blaming the person who chose to use a bad reed and hasn't learned how to improve bad reeds or carry spares.

Carpenter: "I'm sorry your shelves fell down, it's not my fault - my drill was not working properly and my screwdriver was bent."
Here's an analogy I use all the time with my students in regards to gear:

"Sorry officer, I hit my brakes when I was coming up to the red light but I guess they stopped working- that's why I went right through it at full speed!"

Who is responsible for the upkeep of a car/gear/etc?? Exactly.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Dave and Pete, totally agree; and that's my point really.

I had a big band gig last night, and in the final number of the first set I decided that my current favourite reed had finally given up the ghost; so switched out from the case I take to gigs, slapped a new one on and all good.

Then in the interval, carried on playing a little to make sure the new reed was solid, whilst also clipping the old reed... Which gave it a new lease of life. Huzzah!
 

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Dave and Pete, totally agree; and that's my point really.

I had a big band gig last night, and in the final number of the first set I decided that my current favourite reed had finally given up the ghost; so switched out from the case I take to gigs, slapped a new one on and all good.

Then in the interval, carried on playing a little to make sure the new reed was solid, whilst also clipping the old reed... Which gave it a new lease of life. Huzzah!
Man that's more than I'd do! Every time a reed doesn't feel good to play I just throw it away- I know people who work on their reeds and get more life out of them, but I just don't feel like doing that in the least bit. To be honest I don't bring an entire box around with me- I keep 3 total reeds in my case at any one time so if I have a really bad luck night where 1 or 2 don't work and I break one...well...that'd make for a fun video!
 

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Always blame the reed. If you're having a bad day, just blame the reed, pack it in and come talk mouthpieces on SotW.

More seriously, though, bad reeds are a fact of life. At some point, I learned enough about planning ahead to not show up to an audition or a gig on a known bad reed and to always have at least half a dozen decent ones ready to go in case the reed I have starts to fade. Even on a bar gig, I usually have a couple of reeds in the little Vandoren sleeves in my pocket.
I'm a busker and I bring 14 reeds with me. What I notice is that even some good reeds will begin to give me trouble once they have been played for a half an hour. If switching to another reed solves the problem, then I know it's the reed. If your sax leaks a bit then you are really in trouble because you don't know if it the reed or the sax. Let's face it, the saxophone is a mechanical mess. I was busking last Wednesday and didn't miss a note in my 2nd hour of constant playing. The gods were with me.
 

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I heard an interview with Chris Potter recently in which he said he doesn't throw out “bad” reeds. He just plays ‘em. Because every reed is different, and rather than reject the ones that are more difficult to play, he likes to explore what they can do and see if that leads him to try things he wouldn't normally do.

Needless to say, we can't all be Chris Potter. So it behooves us mere mortals to make sure that we start the gig with a good reed and that we have a few viable replacements on hand. Frankly, if someone plays poorly and then blames it on the reed, I would lose some respect for person.
 

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I use synthethic reeds so I have the honor of blaming myself for bad tone......and this is probably helping me develop faster than I would if I had a cane reed to blame........of course, I have no basis of comparison...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I use synthethic reeds so I have the honor of blaming myself for bad tone......and this is probably helping me develop faster than I would if I had a cane reed to blame........of course, I have no basis of comparison...
Rather than simply saying synthetic reeds have bad tone per se? (I've yet to find one I like; Legere signature are the closest but still not right).
 
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