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I'm a high school student who switched to 2.5 Hemkes a couple months ago. They're actually pretty consistent, and I like their sound, but they take a little while to warm up, and their "play life" doesn't seem to last quite long enough.

I think part of this is my fault, as I've also gotten a new horn and mpc recently and probably didn't give the reeds enough break-in time, but being a student requires me to do that sometimes. They also warp quite easily, although this might be the strength and not the brand.

Anyway, just about everything I've heard about reeds contradicts something else I've heard, to the point that I'm tempted just to pick some at random and see what happens. And, as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, so perhaps I'm better off just sticking with Hemkes a while longer?

I've heard a lot of good things about Alexander Classiques (when they work, at least), but without a local dealer, and with their high prices, that would be an expensive experiment.

Regardless, I'd be thankful if anybody could recommend a reed that:
-Is fairly consistent. Not all have to be winners, but it'd be nice if none sucked.
-Is relatively cheap.
-Is ready to go out of the box, without sacrificing tone.
-Doesn't warp too much.

One reed I found, the Rico Reserve Classic, seems to fit that criteria, but of course i haven't played it. I know I'm probably gonna end up wasting some amount of cash trying out different brands and sizes to sate my curiosity, but any input that might help me narrow my choices down is appreciated.
 

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I used to use Hemke's, but the life was just too short. They sounded great right out of the box, but I couldn't afford to go through reeds that fast.

Everyone is going to recommend different brands and thicknesses. The only way to find what works for you is to try different brands.

My personal favorite is Gonzalez. I used Vandoren traditional 3 1/2's for a long time, but they were just a little too strong. I found that the Gonzalez 3 1/4 is perfect me. They are more consistent, and help me achieve my sound.

I've also been experimenting with Legere, and have been very impressed. I think I'm going to stick with Gonzalez for my lessons and solo work. But, for any outdoor performance, and large ensemble work, I've made the switch to Legere.
 

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I've recently had good luck with Lavoz they're cheap, last a good while, and don't require much break in.
 

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I think Hemkes are a great deal for the money. If you use 3 or 4 in rotation, you extend their life. The main thing is to get a reed clipper: the tips go fast, but that doesn't mean the reed is dead.

my .02$
 

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Plasticovers have no break in time. They play brighter than traditional reeds but because they are actually Rico Royals coated with a thin plastic coating they do not warp or need to be soaked. I have used them professionally for over 30 years. B
 

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I have to say that for alto I like Lavoz. I dont know why but for me they are crap for tenor. I dont want to go so far as to say they are consistent but I dont think they are less than average consistency. They play well and are affordable.
 

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-Is fairly consistent. Not all have to be winners, but it'd be nice if none sucked.
-Is relatively cheap.
-Is ready to go out of the box, without sacrificing tone.
-Doesn't warp too much.

Gonzalez RC ticks those boxes for me.
 

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I have had very good success with Rigotti Gold reeds.
 

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I'd second the Plasticovers. No break-in, consistent from reed to reed and last awhile. By the time the black plastic stuff starts wearing through, the reed is starting to go soft, so you have an idea that your reed is starting to go. It's just a matter if you're going to like the sound.

I used to think LaVoz had similar qualities to the plasticovers, but didn't last as long. That was a few (quite a few) years back however, and I haven't played them recently to see if they still have the same qualities. They're cheap enough to try it though. I didn't think they had a wonderful sound however, but they seemed awfully consistent, just stick in your mouth while getting set-up, stick on the piece and go. Plasticovers are even more simple. Lick, stick and go.
 

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But because of minor variations I usually have to adjust a lot of any new reeds to get the acceptable strength. You can`t adjust Plasticover (I don`t think), what you buy you are stuck with and as they are coated Rico Royals they will vary.
 

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Plasticovers work everytime...
I've been using a Fibracell for a little under 2 weeks now and I like it a lot, but I wanting to experiment a little more with the synthetic reeds before school starts again. I started out on #2 Vandoren blue box and Rico orange box, but have since moved up to #2.5. I also tried Rico Classic Reserves in #2.5 when WWBW was giving them away if you bought a box of Vandorens,... I like them too!

But my question is about the Rico Plasticovers. Do they differ in strengths like the other synthetics do? Will you get pretty much get what you're expecting if you get them in a strength you're used to buying in cane? After reading this and some other threads, I'm leaning Plasticovers over Legere. Prolly end up trying both, just on the fence a little about which one I wanna try first I guess. Thanks for any input.
 

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Consistent
Cheap
Little break-in time.

Pick two.

For cheap and little break-in time (IMO) I use Rico orange. Some of them are really bad, but it doesn't hurt to trow them away that much. And they definitely last longer than Hemkes.

As for warping I just keep them in my mouth until they're flat. Works every time.
 
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