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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just curious, how many of you are still playing the same mpc/reed combo that you played back in the day? I'd like to find a few things out.

1. If still the same setup, do you think the sound is the same?
2. If not, why did you change and when.
3. If you did change and you still have your old set-up, can you get the same sound you did back in the day.

People have been complaining about reeds since the first one was made. I have set-ups that play nothing like they did in the 70's and 80's. Even the 90's. My guess is the reeds are so different, I've compensated with mouthpieces.

I'm looking for input from players that have been playing at least 25 years.
 

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My alto went in the case in the mid 80's, only to be used for the rare recording until about 2009 when I took up sax again seriously. The horn and MPC are the same. A $50 pawn shop special, engraved only with Evette Schaffer Paris and a serial #. No f#. That's all I know if it. The MPC is a metal Meyer purchased in the early 80's labeled 7j. I did upgrade my bundy tenor to a SA80 ii. Now I'm considering playing my recently purchased New Wonder Conn almost exclusively. The jury is still out on that one..

Ive still got about 2 boxes of La Voz med-hards purchased for the alto in the 80's by I've pretty much fully switched to Legeres. The sound is basically unchanged when comparing recordings from "back in the day". (other than the warm fuzzy tape saturation being missing.)
 

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I've pretty much played tenor since I started in grade school in the late 70's. For years I played regular Ricos and occassionally a Rico Royal paired with HR Meyers or Morgans. Switched over to metal tenor pieces about 15 years ago and went to Vandoren or RJS as well. Don't know about Rico Royals but the last box of standard orange box Ricos I bought I got on close-out from a local store that was getting rid of stuff paid maybe $5 for the box and most of the reeds were unplayable. A few were so badly cut (bark all the way out to the tip, etc.) that it was pointless to even try them.

I'm not sure the reeds have changed as much as the marketing/ packaging. It just seems like you have to spend $15 for a box of 5 tenor reeds to have any expectation of getting a few that play. Gone are the days of getting 25 reeds for $18 and figuring on have 18-20 of them play okay.
 

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Interesting topic...

I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the sonic demands placed on reeds at different periods of time (due to stylistic trends). In the 20's and 30's it seems that mouthpiece tip openings were typically around a 4 or 5. Over the years tip openings got larger and at some point higher baffled mouthpieces and harder reeds became the norm. That sort of 70's bright sound was dominant for a long time. So as expectations have changed over the years (increased volume and projection over increasingly loud bands) that's gotta be more stress on a reed. It also demands a certain kind of response in the harmonics that wasn't required so much in previous decades. Today, most every situation in jazz and pop is amplified (even in small clubs), and usually to a much higher degree than is really required for the best sound.

Funny, I was just looking at some Downbeat magazines from the late '60s and all the advertisements were for pickups (for horns), effects boxes (for horns) and amps (for horns!)

Seems the trend now has gone back somewhat to a warmer fuller sound, at least in jazz. But it still seems as if there's a sort of "power" component that demands that a mouthpiece somehow automatically do more for the player. Plus, it seems that many brands of "jazz" reeds today are cut to be louder and project more. Maybe that's not such a great thing?

For a long time I used to want a certain type of "crisp" attack in the notes and it took a very specific response from the reed to get it. I would often be frustrated by how many reeds I had to search through to find that. But my sound has since changed and now I don't want so much volume and edge. In the process I've changed the way I put air into the horn and now I have very few problems with reeds. But I do break them in (and I think that's crucial) and can usually play 8 or 9 out of every 10 reeds. I would never be happy just trying to play reeds right out of the box.

On the other hand I've read that Stan Getz went through a lot of reeds to get one he liked. I wonder if he played them right out of the box or tried breaking them in at all.

To answer your questions…

Don't play the same setups anymore, although they are pretty much like I remembered. But given that the major change in sound has been from me and not so much the equipment I have the feeling that we change over time. Very hard to say whether reeds from the '70s were better since it's basically taken me 30 - 40 years to get the sound I'm getting now!

However, the suspicion that reeds are not quite the same does seem compelling on some level...
 

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My setups have changed a lot over 25 years. I play more open mouthpieces on alto and harder reeds.

I don't think reeds have really changed all that much. I've played brown box Rico's and current Rico's on the same horn and same mouthpiece over the last couple of years more than a few times back to back and I sound the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What got me going on this was aha moment in practice the other day. For the last few years, I've been struggling to get the tone I want out of my old metal C* classical alto piece. I've tried everything from Blue Box Vandos to Selects. I finally reached to an old batch of Buffet reeds. Circa the 60s. Wow, it just came to life. I played etudes for hours and hours. None of the modern reeds give me anything close to that. I can actually get a closer sound to the C*/Buffet on my Metal Beechler with Select Jazz. Crazy, I know.
 

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I finally reached to an old batch of Buffet reeds. Circa the 60s. Wow, it just came to life.
Are they cut differently?

I have boxes of old reeds from the '80s but they were ones that didn't play well at the time. I pull them out sometimes to practice on. Nothing great. How is it that you have 40+ year old reeds still laying around? That's great!
 

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When I got here about ten years ago or so, I had been playing on the same set-ups for up to twenty years or more. Once getting here, I naturally started trying new mouthpieces and realized I was better suited to more open tipped mouthpieces. Then I got out and tried some different horns, both new and old, and ended up dumping my Selmers in favor of vintage tenors (10M and Silversonic) and a vintage alto (True Tone) for my main axes. I also was inspired to fix up my old True Tone soprano (which I prefer over my VI) and my old New Wonder bari. Do I sound the same? I probably have always sounded like me, but it seems to be more natural these days. Now as for reeds... I used to play Rico Royals, but for me, they went to hell about when the guitar string company bought them, and I eventually moved on to Javas. I still have some old stock bari Rico Royals, and they're like gold to me.
 

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I played a metal FL STM 7* in 1989 with LaVoz MH reeds.

I play the same metal FL STM 7* today with LaVoz MEDIUM reeds.

I switched around from this one to different Links & reeds in the past 21 years. I stayed on a Tonemaster for 7 yrs in there, but came back a few years ago.

The difference?
I can control a softer reed & get more volume & power from a softer reed because I am a more mature player & have a much better developed air stream.
 

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I've been playing 40 years. I'm on my third clarinet, third alto, same tenor, and finally my own bari.
Each clarinet required a different mouthpiece to get the 'sound' I wanted.
Each alto liked something different than the one before.
I finally figured out what the tenor liked, and the bari sounds good with what I was using on a 'borrowed' school horn.
Reeds... Eh, I use whatever I can afford at the time and adjust as needed.

Once I've gotten 'things' figured out I pretty much keep that set up until I get a 'new' horn.
As long as it's flexable, reliable, and consisant I'm not going to mess with it.
I'm getting to danged old to be farting around with gear. :)
 

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My first tenor was my dad's mk6 with a NY Link Tonemaster and Rico v2½ reed. That was in 1978. Over the years I've acquired dozens of mouthpieces for all my axes. Now, after 33 years of playing, I find myself favouring a NY Link Tonemaster and Rico v2½ reed.

My father's mk6 was stolen in 1982. He gave me a SML revD to replace it and later a #56k mk6 that I still play. For the last 12 years or so I've been leaning toward my #28k BA. When I travel, I use a RS Berkeley Virtuoso.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Are they cut differently?

I have boxes of old reeds from the '80s but they were ones that didn't play well at the time. I pull them out sometimes to practice on. Nothing great. How is it that you have 40+ year old reeds still laying around? That's great!
They came into my possession in the late 70's. This little mom and pop music store I took lessons at acquired them somehow. I was told they were from the late 50's warly 60's. I bought a ton of boxes pretty cheep to take off to college. My professor got me to switch to Vandos or LaVoz right away. These stayed unused for years and years. I rediscovered them some time ago and realized how special they were, and only bring them out for certain occasions. I have no idea what the cut is, but it's for sure in the big heart vein. The color of the cane is crazy. I get some pics up tomorrow. I also have a ton of unused LaVoz for tenor and alto from the late 80's early 90's. I batch marked them so I knew where them came from. They sucked then and time hasn't helped them one bit!
 

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Just curious, how many of you are still playing the same mpc/reed combo that you played back in the day? I'd like to find a few things out.

1. If still the same setup, do you think the sound is the same?
2. If not, why did you change and when.
3. If you did change and you still have your old set-up, can you get the same sound you did back in the day.

People have been complaining about reeds since the first one was made. I have set-ups that play nothing like they did in the 70's and 80's. Even the 90's. My guess is the reeds are so different, I've compensated with mouthpieces.

I'm looking for input from players that have been playing at least 25 years.
I can tell you that since switching to Plasticover reeds in 1978 I have noticed a decline in quality from that time period between the time when they were actually Rico Royal cane reeds that were "plastic coated" and the current crop which are mystery reeds inside, now that they are owned by a large corporation that also makes other products.

At least for me, I find the reed has had little difference when compared to a change in mouthpiece and horn and for this very reason I starting to look at Legere' reeds as the next step.

B
 

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I've been playing for 45 years and I've had relatively few changes to my set up and horns compared with others on this forum. Lately I got given a CD of a tribute to a local jazz icon that I played with back in the late 70s. He's not well these days and it's a sort of benefit thing. Anyway there were some 5 tunes from his band of my time. I remembered the band but not the session which was a concert. I wasn't expecting what I heard - I sounded about the same as I always have sounded. I was maybe just a bit more energetic than I am today.

But even today when I make what for me seem like radical changes to reeds, mouthpieces or horns - no one notices. What they DO notice is that if I'm happy with the change then I play with verve. When I'm unhappy I don't. As for the reed thing, I've always had a wide tolerance. I always just played the next one in the box with little preparation. I've moved to all synthetic now (Legere) and I'm happy with the result.
 

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Sadly I have realized that I qualify for this.

About 15 years ago I became obsessed with old reeds. I obtained well over 30 boxes of the old simulated wood brown box Rico's. I also have some Kress Cut(?) old Selmer reeds (the velevet boxes), La Voz and Vandoren (purple plastic cases). So, I've been able to compare these side by side.

I'm sure that the "curing" or time spent in the boxes has helped to a degree - probably significantly.

1) The older reeds are a deep and rich brown color.

2) The older reeds have a distinctive grain line that is generally straight and consistent with the cut of the reeds.

3) the cuts seem to be more consistent.

Okay, but how do they play? Honestly - I save the older Rico's for special occasions or gig - I love the richness that is embodied in these. Yet, they still have the projection I'm looking for.

I have changed my setups over the years.

Silversonc Super 20 with Dukoff
Super 20 with Slant Sig link
Conn 30M with Slant Sig link
Conn 30M with Florida STM
Mark VI with Florida STM
Mark VI with Theo Wanne Kali/Gaia
Mark VI with Florida STM
 

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Playing soprano for 55 years now, alto and clarinet a bit less. Yes, Everything has changed for me as my embouchure matured and new products hit the market. Maybe the biggest difference was the introduction of the Selmer Super Session line to soprano mouthpieces. DAVE
 

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I've been playing for around 45 years. I began using what came with my sax and Rico brown box reeds. I really had no idea about different mouthpieces, ligatures and reeds. I began to experiment a bit with mouthpieces in the mid-seventies. By the early 80's I had switched from alto to tenor and started using a Beechler Bellite with Rico Royals. I did that for around 10 years and then switched to plasticovers. I've since purchased a newer, slighter more open Bellite and use it with the Plasticovers for Rock and Roll. I use my old Bellite with RJS's for jazz. It seems like I have been through quite a few tenor pieces but the Bellites do it for me. So, I guess my answer is that I haven't stuck with the same thing through the years but have certainly used the Bellite/rico combination for a long time. I've gone to a slightly more open mouthpiece and a slightly softer reed. Still, what I have ended up using is not far off what I began with on tenor many years ago.
 

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Someone in this discussion, EE I think, drew attention to the fact that players used smaller tip mouthpieces in earlier eras. Got me to thinking that maybe it is the use of altissimo register that contributes to a shorter reed life. Players in earlier eras were probably capable of the altissimo range (Eddie Lockjaw Davis, etc etc etc) but its use was often more for dramatic effect, and not so much a part of an extended scale or triad and, for lack of a better way of putting it, "business as usual". I have been playing some 30 years and have gone from a soft reed and 10* small font Florida STM to a medium hard reed and 7* Early Babbitt STM. In some ways, I think I sounded better with the earlier setup, but did not have as much control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Someone in this discussion, EE I think, drew attention to the fact that players used smaller tip mouthpieces in earlier eras.
I guess this is my issue as well. When I go back to the smaller tip pieces, there is no way I can get same sound with today's reeds. I don't recall having issues with alttissimo on the smaller tips back then either. The reeds had the resistance and snap to git er done. Did we as players go to different mpcs to compensate for the change in reeds or did the reed companies change things to better suit the newer pieces and playing styles?
 
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