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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone

I've been playing Tenor since seventh grade and always used a 2.5 strength reed. Then in 9th grade I didn't pick up a tenor while I marched alto for months and had to step up to a 3 reed, but 2.5 worked for my alto needs.

Now its tenth grade and I have to play alto for Pictures at an Exhibition, but about a few months ago after forgetting to practice alto during finals, I started getting a lot of resistance whenever I play. Should I change my reed size? If so, should I go up or down? Thank you everyone
 

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You should always try to find new types of reeds and/or try different strengths. Even when you find a type and strength of reed that suits you, i change it around every so often to see if something else is better. That way you find out what you like, and don't like. Just the other day, I tried V16 reeds on tenor (i previously played on javas and red javas) and they were a strength harder than my javas. Well, they play beautifully! I'm playing through the whole box to see if they're consistent in their feel. So go ahead and try out going down a size and see what happens!

Some other reasons why you're feeling resistance may be...Since you've been lacking practice, you're not used to that resistance that used to be there. Or, you may need to break in your reeds. Some spend some time breaking in their reeds to get a good sound or that feeling of ease while playing. You may need to break your reed in a bit.
 

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@vaiol123: How long since you pick up your alto again? It may take a week or two of practice for you to gain the embouchure strength back.

Also are you using old reeds you used before or new one? As MarkVIstud says new reeds may need some breaking in, mine requires about 1/2 - 1 hr in total across 2 days. If you're using old reeds, make sure they are still in good condition, not swelling and introducing leaks.

Last but not least, don't forget to check the horn for leaks as well. If all else fail, you may go for reeds a step softer. What model of reeds are you using now?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies everyone. I did some hard core practicing today and the resistance seemed to become less noticeable. Guess I just needed to build my embouchure back up.
 

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You weren't specific about how many different reeds you tried. The reason I say that is because from my experience, reeds are VERY inconsistent, regardless of the brand and strength, meaning that one would have to go through many of the same brand and cut before objectively concluding that one strength and one brand/cut was the one for you.

Another factor is preparation, adjustments, and break-in practices. Lots has been posted about those subjects before so I won't go into it, but suffice to say that before you change strengths, brands and cuts, make sure you've tried a number of the same reeds. Don't make a decision on just one reed.

True, nothing is hurt by experimenting like MarkVIStud posted, fun for sure - but it can run into some money. And ricanna was correct about break-in.

For instance, I was experimenting a few weeks ago with closer-tipped soprano mouthpieces (I usually play soprano tips at between .65 and .70 using soft reeds). So I bought a box of Vandoren ZZ in #3 strength and a similar box of alto reeds to try on my S-80 C* alto piece. With a discount, I paid over $50.00. After trying a few of the reeds, I concluded I probably should have started with 2 1/2's because I had to shave quite a bit of bark of the vamps to make them play for me. DAVE
 

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Did you remove the swab from the neck?
 
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