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We had two long gigs in the open air last weekend with the Big Band and I didn't want to use my normal cane reeds to prevent reed warping after the breaks.

Bought some weeks ago a lot of older reeds for a very good price and decided to try one reed from an old Rico Plasticover 1.5 box I acquired. Tried it during the last rehearsal last Tuesday and was positively surprised about how easy it played and how good it sounded (in my ears that is). I play an Otto Link Florida no USA 10* and now understand a bit better why Plas Johnson likes the very big tip very soft Plasticover combination as a setup!

Here is a clip of 'Sing Sing Sing' of last Saturday evening, filmed with a mobile phone (so not the best quality). The clip also starts a bit later in the song, only a few seconds before my short tenor solo started. Here it is:

- 'Sing Sing Sing' - Q Big Band - Rotterdam 06-07-2019 (tenor solo on Florida no USA 10* - Plasticover 1.5):

or

As mentioned, I wasn't unhappy with the sound at all, but the reed requires some careful voicing in the higher register. Could still hit what I wanted without issue, the long high G during the solo came out very well and sounded quiet strong in my ears. :)
 

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Nice big sound there, plenty of edge out of a Link. I've got some Marca 1.5's to try on a vintage Berg sometime, for that Gato Barbieri edge. I might need to move that experiment up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks musekatcher. :)

I also bought a lot of older soft reeds for a very good price during an 'old stock sale' of a music shop with the same idea.

I have some huge tip Berg's (140/0 and 150/2) and old Link's (11, 11* and 12) that I want to explore a bit further with these reeds. Issue is that (normal) cane reeds tend to bend a bit towards the tip after some playing time and these Plasticovers might be better for that (taken in more mouthpiece probably also, but I already do that and it still happens on my huge tip mouthpieces [>10*]).
 

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We had two long gigs in the open air last weekend with the Big Band and I didn't want to use my normal cane reeds to prevent reed warping after the breaks.

Bought some weeks ago a lot of older reeds for a very good price and decided to try one reed from an old Rico Plasticover 1.5 box I acquired. Tried it during the last rehearsal last Tuesday and was positively surprised about how easy it played and how good it sounded (in my ears that is). I play an Otto Link Florida no USA 10* and now understand a bit better why Plas Johnson likes the very big tip very soft Plasticover combination as a setup!

Here is a clip of 'Sing Sing Sing' of last Saturday evening, filmed with a mobile phone (so not the best quality). The clip also starts a bit later in the song, only a few seconds before my short tenor solo started. Here it is:

- 'Sing Sing Sing' - Q Big Band - Rotterdam 06-07-2019 (tenor solo on Florida no USA 10* - Plasticover 1.5):

As mentioned, I wasn't unhappy with the sound at all, but the reed requires some careful voicing in the higher register. Could still hit what I wanted without issue, the long high G during the solo came out very well and sounded quiet strong in my ears. :)
That's a good combination Peter, good strong sound with edge. That long high G sounded full and rich, great tone, the band's sounds great. Congrats. :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's a good combination Peter, good strong sound with edge. That long high G sounded full and rich, great tone, the band's sounds great. Congrats. :cheers:
Thanks Rob. :)
 

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Fat sound, man! There's no way to prevent the reed from curving up toward the tip rail because it has to do that to play, and anything flexible enough to play is going to take a 'set'. Taking the reed off the mouthpiece after playing and storing in a clamping device like a Reed Guard puts the reed back straight but of course as soon as you start playing it again it takes the set again. The trick is finding one that is strong enough to last longer but still resilient enough to give that sound and playability. At least straightening it between uses keeps it fresh longer.
My set-up is less extreme than yours but still basically the same idea - a Guardala 'King Curtis' (.116) with a cane 2 1/2. Maintaining reeds with this method works so well that I have to be careful not to use a reed after it starts to 'die' because they start out sounding fine but tend to 'expire' right in the middle of a set. For this reason I generally (on tenor) carry 8 reeds in two 4x Reed Guards. On the other saxes I use only synthetic or Plasticover since I mainly play tenor.
With Plasticovers, I find that they tend to be fine until the resin begins to break down and they start absorbing moisture, which causes warping when they dry out over a long break. That's when I replace it because there's no longer a point in using it even if it still plays okay after re-wetting.
You mentioned Plas and his set-up, which consisted of a 160 Berg with a bari sax Plasticover, #1 1/2. He also rubbed some Vaseline on the mouthpiece table before mounting the reed. I don't know if this was to seal it or just to protect the mouthpiece from corrosion - being as busy as he was recording on thousands of records, I'm sure he left that reed on for days at a time and numerous playing sessions. Plas's sound is still wonderful to hear and I'm confident it will never be duplicated. Here's a favorite:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fat sound, man! There's no way to prevent the reed from curving up toward the tip rail because it has to do that to play, and anything flexible enough to play is going to take a 'set'. Taking the reed off the mouthpiece after playing and storing in a clamping device like a Reed Guard puts the reed back straight but of course as soon as you start playing it again it takes the set again. The trick is finding one that is strong enough to last longer but still resilient enough to give that sound and playability. At least straightening it between uses keeps it fresh longer.
My set-up is less extreme than yours but still basically the same idea - a Guardala 'King Curtis' (.116) with a cane 2 1/2. Maintaining reeds with this method works so well that I have to be careful not to use a reed after it starts to 'die' because they start out sounding fine but tend to 'expire' right in the middle of a set. For this reason I generally (on tenor) carry 8 reeds in two 4x Reed Guards. On the other saxes I use only synthetic or Plasticover since I mainly play tenor.
With Plasticovers, I find that they tend to be fine until the resin begins to break down and they start absorbing moisture, which causes warping when they dry out over a long break. That's when I replace it because there's no longer a point in using it even if it still plays okay after re-wetting.
You mentioned Plas and his set-up, which consisted of a 160 Berg with a bari sax Plasticover, #1 1/2. He also rubbed some Vaseline on the mouthpiece table before mounting the reed. I don't know if this was to seal it or just to protect the mouthpiece from corrosion - being as busy as he was recording on thousands of records, I'm sure he left that reed on for days at a time and numerous playing sessions. Plas's sound is still wonderful to hear and I'm confident it will never be duplicated. Here's a favorite:
Thanks 1saxman. :)

The reed bending is indeed only an issue during playing and in long set's (we sometimes play set's of 1.5 hour without break) you can't get them straight that easily whilst playing! Happily it's not a big issue on my 10* Link, but it is on the bigger tip ones I own. I have a killing (modern!) Berg 150/2 SMS that has a lot of edge (more than the Link 10*), but the bending is an issue. Plasticovers don't work that well on my Berg, but with real cane (La Voz medium or Rico Royal 2) it can scream. But the Berg blends less with the sax section of the band, so I always use the trusted old 10* Link during gigs (more easy to stay under the lead alto, who is also a loud player).

Thanks for the Plas video link, it's always great to hear this (underestimated) master of the tenor.

That setup lets your solo rise above the band really well Pete, love it!
Thanks Alan. :)

I'm sure I will explore that reed size a bit longer, hopefully they don't die too fast. I still have some old Plasticover 2 reeds also, but I didn't like the ones from my last box and went back to real cane reeds like La Voz medium and lately Rico Royal 2, but those RR 2's need more work (= air!) to get the edge in the sound.
 

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With Plasticovers you can spend some money trying to find a good one because you don't want to break the coating by working on it which defeats its purpose, but it can be worth it. I have moved away from them of late, preferring the Fibracells* which last longer, look and feel like cane and are extremely consistent, so when you find the magic number you can count on the next one playing the same.
But from what I heard on your big band recording, you don't need to look for any more mouthpieces.
One more thing about synthetics that seems to get lost in the shuffle - every time you pick up the horn with that same reed, which can be an extended period depending on how often you play, the horn sounds and reacts exactly the same. This has been great for me on bari, alto and sop.
*I forgot, I am using a Hartmann Fibereed 'Hemp' Med. on baritone for the last six months. You carry one reed with each horn. Set-up is fast because there is no 'reed-trying'. You tune up, check in on sound and forget about it until you need it during the set. Plus that 'familiarity' when you do play it is going to have a huge and cumulative effect because there are no surprises from the reed.
My Fibracells and Fibereed last long enough to require several washes - I scrub them with Hydrogen Peroxide on a toothbrush, dry and put back in their little cases. I use the Fibracell 'jewel boxes' with the rubber bump inside the top to store the reeds in - it holds them flat. The Fibereed comes only on a paper card so its good to have some spare Fibracell boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the additional reed information 1saxman.

I've tested some synthetic reeds in the past and liked the old Fibracell's the best, but found them too bright for my taste. I also found that they play (for me!) better on higher baffle pieces, but my old Links like cane and Plasticover better. Still have some newer Firbracell's, but they feel much softer than the old ones (a new 4 plays as an old medium). I don't play much (once a week) and already do a long time with my cane and Plasticover reeds (about 3 month per reed, sometimes longer!), so for me that's for the moment fine enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here is another take from that weekend gig (next day on the same stage as above video, but with another singer and bass player then the day before).

"I Left My Heart In San Francisco', with a short tenor solo by me just after 3:18:

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here is another short fragment of a Blues in F we played (as openings number) at the Sunday concert. My solo start's after a few seconds. The sound man still had some issues with the levels of the mic in the begin of the (short) solo.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Bought some weeks ago a lot of older reeds for a very good price and decided to try one reed from an old Rico Plasticover 1.5 box I acquired. Tried it during the last rehearsal last Tuesday and was positively surprised about how easy it played and how good it sounded (in my ears that is). I play an Otto Link Florida no USA 10* and now understand a bit better why Plas Johnson likes the very big tip very soft Plasticover combination as a setup!
Still play that same 1.5 Plasticover reed after 8 months and it still sounds and plays very well.

Not bad for the price of 1 euro! :mrgreen:
 

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Clips sound good!
Isn’t reed bending closer to the tip rail directly related to biting and usually a result of fighting too big a tip opening and, or too stiff a reed? If it’s vibration related or from drying out reeds would bend the other way exactly 50% of the time. They don’t though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Clips sound good!
Isn't reed bending closer to the tip rail directly related to biting and usually a result of fighting too big a tip opening and, or too stiff a reed? If it's vibration related or from drying out reeds would bend the other way exactly 50% of the time. They don't though.
Thanks. :)

The reed is still straight (after 8 months of playing and also directly after playing). I take in quite some mouthpiece (between 2 to 2.5 cm) and in that case (permanent) bending of the reed towards the tip almost doesn't happen (when playing closer to the tip it can happen more easily). I also play with a loose embouchure (no biting) and am not fighting the setup (otherwise I wouldn't play it). Starting a low Bb in sub-tone is not an issue. I played for years La Voz medium on my 10* and was afraid the 1.5 Plasticover could/would bend more easily towards the tip, but it's not the case.

I have some bigger tip pieces than my main 10* mouthpiece and I can play them without big issues too, but with those some bending takes place (this happens for me with tips > 11).
 

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Thanks. :)

The reed is still straight (after 8 months of playing and also directly after playing). I take in quite some mouthpiece (between 2 to 2.5 cm) and in that case (permanent) bending of the reed towards the tip almost doesn't happen (when playing closer to the tip it can happen more easily). I also play with a loose embouchure (no biting) and am not fighting the setup (otherwise I wouldn't play it). Starting a low Bb in sub-tone is not an issue. I played for years La Voz medium on my 10* and was afraid the 1.5 Plasticover could/would bend more easily towards the tip, but it's not the case.

I have some bigger tip pieces than my main 10* mouthpiece and I can play them without big issues too, but with those some bending takes place (this happens for me with tips > 11).
No problem. It wasn't a knock or anything on you or anything you've posted. Just a response to the not so correct info provided by 1saxman that all reeds perform a bending and setting ritual that requires flattening. A reed only bends to the shape of the curve if it's been bent that way by biting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A reed only bends to the shape of the curve if it's been bent that way by biting.
Indeed, that or playing to close to tip (not taking in enough mouthpiece). It can also happen easier with short facing curves in combination with bigger tip openings.
 

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Pete Christlieb used to play on 1.5 plasticovers. He said the reason he did it was so that he could play super long phrases without having to stop for a breath.
 
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