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Discussion Starter #1
I've been playing cane reeds since the 1950s. Started with Ciccone Symmetricut reeds (I hope I spelled that correctly) then on to Rico (mostly regulars I tried some of the newer cuts and couldn't justify the expense as they didn't sound or perform better for me). I dabbled in LaVos and a few others, but mostly Ricos. I guess I'm not that picky.

As the years went by I picked up other instruments, flute, wind synth, guitar, bass, keyboards, trap set (I started on drums in school but moved to sax as soon as a rental was available), and vocals.

So now my horn sits on the stand a lot, as I play wind synth, guitar, flute, sax, and voice on the gig. Depending on the gig, and mostly the audience, the sax might sit on the stand for a half hour between songs. Other nights it might get a workout. But on the days it sits on the stand, it's difficult to play as the reed dries out and warps.

So I inquired about syn-reeds on this post
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...on-cane-reed-is-closest-to-a-Rico-Regular-1-5

I ended up with a Legere 2 Signature on my Link Tonemaster 8 NY.

First impression

Pros: It's always ready. It plays well and evenly throughout the range of the horn. It's consistent.

Cons: The tone is not as warm, especially in the low register. The tone isn't as flexible (from subtone to overblow).

I don't hate the tone, and the audience doesn't reject it, but my ears are so used to the warmer sound, it still sounds a bit sterile to me.

Before I decide whether I'll continue using it or not, I need to play it more. I suspect there might be a learning curve on how to get the best out of it. Then I'll evaluate whether or not the instant readiness is worth the change in tone.

I'm also thinking about trying a Fibrecell. Perhaps it will sound warmer. I tried one earlier but it was too soft, so I'll have to go for a harder one.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Keep us updated on how it works for you. I noticed a learning curve when I started on Légères, but more with articulation than tone.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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The only thing about trying synthetic reeds is it costs you a few hundred dollars to find the right one in the right strength, but after that you're golden. I've had success only with the Fibracell and I use them on everything except tenor, since tenor is my primary and I don't have problems keeping the reed moist. I'm enjoying the Fibracell most on baritone, I guess since that's my secondary and I play it more than alto or soprano. One of the major benefits is the horn plays exactly the same every time, so you are constantly getting better since you're not wasting your efforts getting used to a new reed and/or having to change how you play through the night to accommodate how the reed is changing. This means the next gig or practice is like an extension of the one before it and everything you learned before works again this time, like for example, a certain altissimo fingering. In this way you're constantly 'zeroing in' on things and they work the same the next time you play.

The other major benefit is the time you save in trying reeds either before going to the gig or at the gig during set-up/sound check. All that goes away - you just assemble the horn and blow a few notes to make sure everything's okay, and set the horn in its stand to wait to be played, without a care about the reed drying out and being unplayable.

Another possibility for your tenor may be a Plasticover. I have used these in the past before starting with the Fibracells. Being a plastic-coated cane reed, there is the possibility that you can have the best of both worlds. When Pete Christlieb was on the Tonight Show band, he used Plasticovers for that reason, having to go for extended periods without playing or even blowing air through the horn. Plasticovers I have tried in the last ten years have tended to be hard, so I would go down at least a half-strength. They also are not totally immune to water like a synthetic although you can get through a few gigs before they start to act like an uncoated reed and warp a little, but they will let you do as you are doing without worrying about keeping the reed wet.


Have you tried a Hartmann 'Hemp' synthetic? I bought one for baritone but it was too hard. I thought it had a lot going for it anyway and may get it out again to see if I can shave it down some without messing it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I tried plasticovers a long time ago. Out of habit, I would put them in my mouth while assembling the horn, and I noticed my tongue was numb. Hmmm. Then I noticed the black plastic was flaking off so whatever it was that made my tongue numb was being ingested. I decided to err on the side of caution, and after I finished the box I bought I never replaced them. I gig for a living, and that amounts to a lot of ingested tongue numbing plastic.

Everything you say about the Legere is correct. It's even more forgiving on exact placement of the reed forward or back. With a cane I line it up, give it a try, and often move it forward or back to get the response I want. Since I rotate 4 cane reeds to keep the mold away, I don't get two the same in a row. I also put dots on the back end as they start wearing out. The more dots, the closer to the 'reed grave'.

I might get a Fibracell again and see. I tried a Fibracell but it was too soft. I'll try upping it by a half.

I've never heard of a Hartmann so I should investigate.

For 10 years running we do a once a week weekday gig on a deck over a salt water lagoon at a marina. While the core audience is the same, we get a lot of transients and there are times when I might only pick up the tenor for 3 or 4 songs in 3 hours. Of our >550 songs the ones I do on Wind Synth or Guitar are more appropriate. Other days the sax is on my neck a lot. And being outdoors, on the wind synth/guitar days the reed dries out. I blame the squeaks on the birds that come around looking for food handouts. It gets a laugh.

The Legere works perfectly there. I just wish the tone was more complex. More for me than the audience.

Some would think not being able to overblow, honk or subtone with the same response would be a good thing I guess. I find the variations fun and they are there, but much more subtle on the syn-reed.

Notes
 

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Alto sax, Tenor sax, Clarinet
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Interesting I find the Legere Sig 2 to have a rich lower register. What strength cane reed do you normally use, and what mouthpiece? If you think making the Legere softer would help, this can be done. You can dip it in boiling water for about 1 second (no longer) or you can take 600 grit paper and work it like you would work a cane reed. Just be careful, if you go too far there is no going back.
 

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I’m just back from playing a gig on clarinet/alto/tenor with a 1920s repertory band. Stinking hot day, with thunderstorms. We were in a tent, but you know what kind of mayhem can happen with cane in these situations. The knowledge that the horn is going to work is worth any perceived tonal differences. In fact, I got a number of compliments on the appropriate sound I was producing for the idiom.
 

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Interesting I find the Legere Sig 2 to have a rich lower register.
Me too. I really have no complaints about the Legere (in my case a 2.25) in the lower register; quite the contrary, I think it plays more easily down low, esp in the bell keys, than cane and sounds just as good. It's in the mid to upper register that it seems a bit limited compared to cane; just not as expressive, and a bit less dependable in the altissimo range.

I keep a Legere reed in my case, as a back up & for just the type of situation Merlin describes. I also enjoy practicing on a Legere on occasion, esp when I'm putting the horn down for a period of time and returning to it throughout the day.

Otherwise, I prefer to use cane (Rigotti Gold).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm using a Legere 2 on a Link ToneMaster 8 with a NY chamber.

The low register is nice, but it won't honk. I hit it hard and it plays but doesn't go blaaat. (for lack of a better word).

The general tone isn't as complex. I don't know how to describe it, more focused? Straighter? Cleaner? Not as buzzy? I prefer more of a rock/blues sound for the kind of audiences I get (I gig for a living so I don't get to play much jazz).

It's not bad, but not as nice to my ears.

A 1.5 reed didn't work. It failed on the high notes.

We have a slack weekend, but next month is busy. Slack weekends happen this time of year in Florida. The winter people are gone, the summer people aren't here yet. So I won't be playing this weekend, instead working on new styles for Band-in-a-Box (it's my other business).

Next month is busy so I'll see what happens.

But I really, really, like the way it is always ready to play. Even if it sat on the stand for a half hour in the heat of the day.

Give and take I guess.

Notes
 

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Just tried my first synthetic, went with a Legere Signature, 2 strength.

Been playing off and on since high school (a hundred years ago) and bought a YAS-62III to upgrade from my YAS-23. I'm using a Jody Jazz Jet 7 and a Rovner Star Series lig. I've been using D'addario jazz filed 2 medium cane reeds and Rico Select jazz-filed before that. Usually got 5 reeds out of 10 that played well without working on them. The Jet 7, Rovner, and 2 meds create a REALLY bright sound which is what I want.

So anyway... took the Legere out of the box, slapped it on, and wow. Talk about BRIGHT. I'm gonna need sunglasses. I do like the concept of instant ready-to-play, but this might be over the top bright.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, after a few gigs under my belt, and two different saxophones, my official opinion is in a word "meh" - more verbose; a waste of money.

It plays well, but the tone is not nearly as harmonically rich as cane. I don't know how to explain it but it's thinner, not as warm, and impossible to get a rock/blues/Texas-Tenor sound out of.

Plus it has that one tone, whether I'm changing the shape of my oral cavity, overblowing, underblowing trying to honk, or whatever.

A lot of my expression is sculpturing notes and this reed takes most of that away. Not everybody plays this way, so it should be OK for others.

But as far as I'm concerned, the tone is bland, and the flexibility of tone nil.

Last night I put a cane reed back on and it was like a breath of fresh air. My duo partner noticed it on the first note.

I might try a fibrecell, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

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Notes, it sounds like you had the roughly same experience with Legeres as I did. You may simply have to live with the fact that cane reeds work best for you. Go ahead and try a fibracell, but I tried one of those some years ago, and while I liked it at first, for a day or two, I ended up back on cane. I find the Legere to be considerably better than fibracell, but not as good as cane.

So anyway... took the Legere out of the box, slapped it on, and wow. Talk about BRIGHT. I'm gonna need sunglasses. I do like the concept of instant ready-to-play, but this might be over the top bright.
And that just shows how many of us have vastly different experiences with reeds. I find the Legeres to be anything but bright.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There is more than one right way to make music.

I shape notes, change tonal colors, and do a lot of things that my old classical sax teacher would be horrified to hear :D

Since I play commercial music for a living, and since the people who grew up in the "Standards" era are mostly dead, I'm predominately playing pentatonic and blues scales. It works for the audience. It's not good business to play way over their heads.

I have always used different timbres, tones, and ornaments to coax expression out of the notes, and with the more harmonically simple music I play today, that becomes even more important.

I ordered a fibrecell yesterday. I got it from Amazon with some other products so I at least won't have to pay shipping.

If it works, fine, if not, I'll find out.

Since I play sax, wind synth, flute, guitar, MIDI percussion controller and voice on the gig, depending on the gig, the sax can sit on the stand a long time. One of our weekly gigs (for 10 years now) is outdoors in a marina over a lagoon near the ocean. Nice breezes but even with the cap on, the reed can dry out. if I do a half our of guitar, flute, and/or wind synth songs. It warps and squeaks.

I really want to like a synthetic reed, but if it doesn't work out, that's life.

If it's not right for me, and right for others, that's OK. Like I said, there is more than one right way to do this.

Notes
 

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You will find you get different tonal colors and response out of different synthetic reed brands, but as 1saxman said, it will cost you some bucks to find the brand and strength that you favor. I've tried different synth reeds over the years for different reasons, and found that the Forestone reeds give a blend of brightness/response between Fibracell and Legere that works for me. Cane reeds are still my preference for my main horn, however.

I played Fibracells for years when I lived in Phoenix. I could feel cane reeds dry out in my mouth while I was playing (it's a dry heat)!
 

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Notes_Norton. Before you make a final decision on what reed is best, you might want to consider recording yourself with a cane and a synthetic reed on a quality recording device, and comparing the sound through the playback. I think there is a general consensus that what we hear when we play is different from what the audience hears.......We tend to like what we are most familiar with (this is a known brain function). Of course the synthetic reed won’t sound as good at first.....even though it is incredibly practical.
 

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Since I play sax, wind synth, flute, guitar, MIDI percussion controller and voice on the gig, depending on the gig, the sax can sit on the stand a long time. One of our weekly gigs (for 10 years now) is outdoors in a marina over a lagoon near the ocean. Nice breezes but even with the cap on, the reed can dry out. if I do a half our of guitar, flute, and/or wind synth songs. It warps and squeaks.
Yeah notes, even though, as I said, I prefer a cane reed, this is the sort of situation that just cries out for a synthetic. And I realize it's why you are trying to find one that works. I play only tenor sax on a gig and even outside in relatively warm weather the reed doesn't sit without being played long enough to dry out. If I was in your situation, I'd probably use the Legere Signature because whatever qualities I prefer in the cane reed would be overcome by the reed drying out while not being used, and there are some things I do like about the Legere (good low register response, consistency overall, and a decent tone quality). I often use the Legere when I'm practicing on and off throughout the day because the reed doesn't dry out and is always immediately ready to go. When practicing, I'm not too concerned about the 'tonal flexibility' I get from cane; that's more important to me on a gig.

Anyway, you'll have to weigh the benefits vs any downside you discover playing a synthetic, given the situation you are in.
 

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Notes_Norton. Before you make a final decision on what reed is best, you might want to consider recording yourself with a cane and a synthetic reed on a quality recording device, and comparing the sound through the playback. I think there is a general consensus that what we hear when we play is different from what the audience hears.......We tend to like what we are most familiar with (this is a known brain function). Of course the synthetic reed won’t sound as good at first.....even though it is incredibly practical.
you beat me to the punch. yeah, that's what i would recommend, especially in the case where sax is only one of several instruments, AND, used so irregularly that a reliable set-up when you do happen upon it is important. IF sax is the primary axe, even if you're the ONLY one who can hear a difference, and ONLY while you're playing it, that still is important enough to be a major consideration.
(personally, i really like the Legere 2.0 on an open Link.)
 

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Also, try your synthetic reeds with other mouthpieces, if you have any. There's no reason to think the mouthpiece you chose after years of experience with cane reeds, is also going to be best for a synthetic reed.
 

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I do what I've always done, play against a wall to hear the sound reflection. The fact that my duo-mate heard the difference with the first note back on cane also says a lot. Her response was YES!. And that was just the first reed test after assembling the sax.

The Legere tone just isn't right for the rock/blues/Texas-tenor sound that fits the music that my current audience demands. The complex overtones of the cane reed give it that 'reedy' sound, the Legere was cleaner and more focused. I can see uses for that, but not for what buys my groceries in this town.

I have to decide between tone and response. If I can find one that has close-enough tone that I'm happy with, I'll end up using the syn-reed. If not, it will be back to cane. I know there might be a compromise on tone, but not what I've tried so far.

And I tried the Legere with my Link Tone Master 8NY, my 1960's Berg 100/0, and even a hard rubber Link. I didn't expect the hard rubber Link (6) to work at all, but if I was playing cool school or smooth jazz it wouldn't be bad.

The place I have the most trouble is a weekly lunch gig on a dock, over a lagoon, in a marina that I've been playing for 10 years now. The regular customers know the problem and will help me blame the squeaks on the birds that come to beg scraps off the tables (running gag). On the other hand, I'd just like to pick up the sax and have it ready to play without compromising what I choose to play until the reed settles in.

I guess you can hear my slight frustration as I flip-flop back and forth.

Notes
 

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I guess you can hear my slight frustration as I flip-flop back and forth.
Notes
Did you get a chance to try the Fibracell? To me it's the middle of the road reed. But it is all very personal.
The Légère has lots of power. It seems to convert the energy you put in a very straight forward way.
Altissimo is a blast. Very consistent, but the in the normal registers bland compared to cane. I can relate to that. It’s difficult to make it sound rich. It could be me of course.
The Fibracell is not as loud, but the energy seems to be more converted to higher partials. Making it sound more complex (cane like).
You’ll have to find something that works for your mouthpiece. I had good results with Légère studio cut on a Link STM 8*.
On a higher baffle piece I like the Fibracells more. I would love to switch back to cane, but what brand/type/strength?
 
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