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Hello reader,

I'm sure this is a common problem with saxophone players... I was playing one day and I was satisfied with my tone, and I really liked how I sounded. The next day, I switched reeds, played my horn, and was very unhappy with the way I sounded. Is it my reeds, or is it just me?

-Nick
P.S- I play Vandoren Java Reds, if it helps to solve the problem.
 

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It may be the way you are caring for your reeds.
 

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Everyone's reeds suck.

They are not as sucky today as they have been at times. There was a time in the 90's when the growing weather was bad in France. A box of five was not odds-on to contain even one playable reed. These days, there are back-up reed crops in South America. But reeds are still sucky.

I have been using plastic lately. Plastic "reeds" have a different kind of suckiness, but are more consistent.
 

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Natural cane reeds are highly variable within a box of 5 or 10. Plus, each reed varies from day to day even under ideal humidity conditions. I carry at least four known playable reeds in a ReedGuard when I go out to play. I try those until I find the one I want to start on. I don't mark them so I don't know one from the other, and it doesn't matter because a good one tonight is not going to be the good one on Saturday night. You have to learn how to care for your reeds and how to recognize when a reed is dying.
 

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Hello reader,

I'm sure this is a common problem with saxophone players... I was playing one day and I was satisfied with my tone, and I really liked how I sounded. The next day, I switched reeds, played my horn, and was very unhappy with the way I sounded. Is it my reeds, or is it just me?

-Nick
P.S- I play Vandoren Java Reds, if it helps to solve the problem.
It's the reeds. I play Java red box reeds also and 3 out of the box were great at first, then only 1 played and it would almost quit after 5 minutes. Here in Los Angeles summer has finally arrived. June is usually gloomy because of the intense ocean evaporation due to the sun almost directly overhead near the Solstice.

Anyway the point I'm making is reeds are subject to changes in not only the relative humidity but even the barometric pressure and the temperature of course. Now the reed that wouldn't last is my best reed out of the Java reeds and the other 2 are fine. I never give up on reeds. I must have at least 20-30 boxes lying around. The most consistent reeds are my Alexander Superials but I can't buy them anywhere locally. I like to support local stores. The Rigotti Golds are not playing so well but I won't give up on them. Plus I think I should have gotten 2 1/2 lights instead of mediums for my reed picky STM.

So the reeds that didn't play last week may be your best reeds later.
 

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Every reed (even from the same box) is different, even if the difference is slight. This is just something you have to get used to. And yes, they do change over time; however I have rarely had a good reed 'go bad' until it finally wears out. In other words, once I find a good one, I can play 3 or 4 gigs on it and know it will play well. Usually it gets slightly better, until it finally starts to die.

Just my experience; reeds are fickle and everyone seems to have different issues with them.
 

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In my earlier days (dramatic music plays.....) I had a LOT more reed problems. Suddenly a reed would start squeaking. Next day no squeak. Great tone one day. Bad the next. Playing sessions interrupted mid-session due to a reed dying.

Now, a reed never goes bad mid session unless it cracks....an obvious structural failure.

Moral: it was more me than the reed.

----------------

Now, I keep reeds moist in a container. I always have a few great sounding reeds, plus some spares. Once in a while I'll pull my everyday reed (each reed is marked) and it will seem just a bit off....maybe a little dead. So I'll pull the second favorite.....ohhhh, a little dead too. Just like number 1. Hmmm.....it's ME!

The human blowing the horn, and his / her sonic impression at any given moment, is the biggest variable of the whole setup. Almost nobody wishes to admit this, it seems.
 

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Ballad Kid: +1 Part of being a good saxophonist is adapting to circumstances; that is, having a good tonal conception and being able to achieve that tonal conception on any reed. One side benefit of rotating your reed every day is to keep your chops on their toes, so to speak. Expecting two reeds to be exactly alike is the same as expecting two people to be exactly alike. Organic material just doesn't work that way.
 
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Hello reader,

I'm sure this is a common problem with saxophone players... I was playing one day and I was satisfied with my tone, and I really liked how I sounded. The next day, I switched reeds, played my horn, and was very unhappy with the way I sounded. Is it my reeds, or is it just me?

-Nick
P.S- I play Vandoren Java Reds, if it helps to solve the problem.
If money was no object, I would buy and throw away a lot more reeds than I do at the moment.
All my playing life, more than 4 decades, and many hours each day. I have gone along with the assumption that it's good to play on a reed that is adequate , ( 3rd best in the box) and convince myself that it's good to be able to control and be happy with most reeds in a box. If you think about it, it's insane. Like telling a pianist that sometimes you need to play a piano that has irregular keys now and again.
I have a reasonable skill in adjusting reeds, but it's very seldom that I can make a mediocre reed perfect.
 
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If you find a reed that plays well one day and the next day it doesn't, then it's probably you. A good reed will generally play well until it dies. So when you find a good reed and you are consistent each day, with that reed. The next thing you do is find another reed that plays the same. And again, and again. Then you rotate all those reeds.
 
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