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I'm guessing you haven't tried the Hartmanns. If you're teaching beginners (as you seem to indicate), then maybe you should try out a beginner with a synthetic? Having a closed mind as a teacher seems unhelpful.

I've also tried synthetics from the outset, and as said I don't like most of them. There's also the tendency for some practices to become a "ritual". I started out in the 1950s and there was only cane. I also played clarinet, oboe and English horn. For oboe and English horn I had to make the reeds as none were commercially available. So reed making was a "ritual". This also translated over to having to work with cane reeds, which weren't particularly good with few brands to choose from. It's certainly evident with all the youtube stuff and continual comments, new gear, etc. that there is almost a cult of cane working. Great if one can actually make a crap reed play, but I also get the feeling that a lot of this becomes ritual. A Dumbo magic feather if you will.

The beginner has no rituals or prejudice. If you've got an open mind towards your students and what may (or may not?) be of benefit to them, give them a good quality synthetic and see what happens. I can't see how this could in any way be a negative thing for your students. I've certainly seen how this can benefit.
We must be very different players. Hartmann is by far the worst synthetic I’ve ever tried.

My cane ritual consists of taking it out of the box, wetting in my mouth for 15 seconds and playing. If it doesn’t play the way I want in the first five seconds, it gets set aside. This is the same as my synthetic ritual except for the first 15 seconds.

I don’t want to be too negative. I’m glad synthetic works for you and your students. It definitely removes a lot of variables and frustration. I just don’t think it’s a fair trade. I’m sticking with cane, but keeping an open mind in case a really good synthetic comes along in the future.
 

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Armstrong Heritage alto, Martin Comm III Tenor, Yamaha YTS-21, Altus flute
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I'm guessing you haven't tried the Hartmanns. If you're teaching beginners (as you seem to indicate), then maybe you should try out a beginner with a synthetic? Having a closed mind as a teacher seems unhelpful.

I've also tried synthetics from the outset, and as said I don't like most of them. There's also the tendency for some practices to become a "ritual". I started out in the 1950s and there was only cane. I also played clarinet, oboe and English horn. For oboe and English horn I had to make the reeds as none were commercially available. So reed making was a "ritual". This also translated over to having to work with cane reeds, which weren't particularly good with few brands to choose from. It's certainly evident with all the youtube stuff and continual comments, new gear, etc. that there is almost a cult of cane working. Great if one can actually make a crap reed play, but I also get the feeling that a lot of this becomes ritual. A Dumbo magic feather if you will.

The beginner has no rituals or prejudice. If you've got an open mind towards your students and what may (or may not?) be of benefit to them, give them a good quality synthetic and see what happens. I can't see how this could in any way be a negative thing for your students. I've certainly seen how this can benefit.
I don't think it's fair to call somebody close minded just because he happens not to like synthetic reeds, just as many other accomplished players do not like them. I would guess that the teacher in question has seen plenty of beginners make the perilous journey from cluelessness to competence on cane reeds. I'm sure this happens just as efficiently with synthetic reeds, because in the end it is talent, desire and work ethic that determines whether a player becomes competent or not. For the record (if records are being kept), I did not advise the original poster not to use Legere. My suggestion, based on my own experience, is just to pick a reed style and hardness and stick with it for a while.
 

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The reed does not make saxophone hard. Neither does the embouchure nor all the holes on the instrument. What makes saxophone hard is the lack of inspiration in the player. Uninspired players quit. It has nothing to do with playing on fake reeds or electronic midi devices. It is in them, just like it was and is in all of us who play.
 

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I just wonder, if it makes a difference whether the player started out and has played most of their lives with cane, vs. someone just starting out with a synthetic? What makes them easier for the beginner might make them more difficult for the experienced player who is use to cane. Vice Versa perhaps someone who learns using synthetics might have more difficulty switching to cane after a few years.
 

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I just wonder, if it makes a difference whether the player started out and has played most of their lives with cane, vs. someone just starting out with a synthetic? What makes them easier for the beginner might make them more difficult for the experienced player who is use to cane. Vice Versa perhaps someone who learns using synthetics might have more difficulty switching to cane after a few years.
I think this is a valid point. Similarly I'd made the analogy of getting a new mouthpiece, which often takes quite a while before we can adapt to get the sound we're after. I think it's relatively easy for adaption in either direction, but it takes more than "15 seconds" to say I like it or don't. A number of years ago I had advice that an RPC alto mouthpiece was a good one to use. So I bought one and tried it. Couldn't get the sound I wanted, so put it in the drawer. In my usual sort of way I'd pick it up once every few days and kept trying it. It took several months, but now it's my go to mouthpiece on alto.

Another story some of you may be able to relate to: My first sopranino was a Yanagisawa. It required a lot of tightening to keep the little beast in tune above G2. After playing it for some years I got a Selmer VI sopranino. It required no tightening at all, so I need to relearn how to play. That took half a year! the sopranino is an extreme example, but I've found a similar (but lesser) issue with lower pitch horns.

IMHO we adapt to whatever our gear is: intonation of certain notes, sax design ergonomics issues, mouthpieces and reeds. When/if we try out new things, and it's extremely similar to what we're using, then it's easy. If it's different it takes adaptation, or one can be like the "15 second" brigade, reject it immediately, and be extremely vociferousness about it.

The obvious is that there are extremely good players who play cane and synthetics. To think otherwise is nonsense. I'd be happy to share hundreds of tracks where synthetics have been used and challenge anyone to say it sounds like a kazoo. By the way, I use cane exclusively for the sopranino.

The issue and challenge is still out there for those who teach beginners to give them a synthetic and see what happens. The advantages should be obvious.
 

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I just wonder, if it makes a difference whether the player started out and has played most of their lives with cane, vs. someone just starting out with a synthetic? What makes them easier for the beginner might make them more difficult for the experienced player who is use to cane. Vice Versa perhaps someone who learns using synthetics might have more difficulty switching to cane after a few years.
Not all cane reeds play the same, nor all synthetics. You just need to pick a path to see if it works for you.

It’s really not that difficult to change things unless change is what presents the difficulty.
 

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I just wonder, if it makes a difference whether the player started out and has played most of their lives with cane, vs. someone just starting out with a synthetic? What makes them easier for the beginner might make them more difficult for the experienced player who is use to cane. Vice Versa perhaps someone who learns using synthetics might have more difficulty switching to cane after a few years.
I tried synthetic very early on, and it was immediately apparent to me that they all sucked. It not a matter of being unable to play them. I can play on just about anything, even the worst cane and synthetic reeds. I'm certain the audience wouldn't be able to tell if I'm playing synthetic or cane. But the response and feel is objectively bad, not simply "different". Even someone who started on and primarily plays on synthetic can surely recognize it after trying both.
 

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I tried synthetic very early on, and it was immediately apparent to me that they all sucked. It not a matter of being unable to play them. I can play on just about anything, even the worst cane and synthetic reeds. I'm certain the audience wouldn't be able to tell if I'm playing synthetic or cane. But the response and feel is objectively bad, not simply "different". Even someone who started on and primarily plays on synthetic can surely recognize it after trying both.
It's amazing that lydian seems to think he's able to speak for all and all time. What a ****! Well...NEWS some of us are more than OK with synthetics and actually prefer them. Did we come from a different planet? Are we all mad? No, it's different strokes for different folks...and we've already spoken of your strokes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I think we went slightly off topic from my initial question. However, I will continue to alternate plastic reed with the traditional one, but thinking only of the study I do not want to be immediately a Taliban in the thought of what is better :D For 20 years I have experimented and experiment with trumpet mouthpieces so I don't see why not do it with reeds knowing well that novices or trumpet, or sax or guitar all have the same monkeys and think of everything except the study :D
 

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Alto and Tenor, prefer Martins Began playing March 2022
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I tried synthetic very early on, and it was immediately apparent to me that they all sucked. It not a matter of being unable to play them. I can play on just about anything, even the worst cane and synthetic reeds. I'm certain the audience wouldn't be able to tell if I'm playing synthetic or cane. But the response and feel is objectively bad, not simply "different". Even someone who started on and primarily plays on synthetic can surely recognize it after trying both.
Quick question, when was the last time that you tried playing with synthetics? I mean technology changes pretty quick.
 

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Quick question, when was the last time that you tried playing with synthetics? I mean technology changes pretty quick.
I play them every day plus 5 hours worth of gigs last week. I sometimes have to make compromises in every facet of my like for the sake of convenience. This is the case with synthetics. So again, it's not lack of awareness or lack of skill or experience on my part. It's simply the recognition of good and bad. I realize a lot of great players also accept synthetics for what they are just as I do. I'm just not willing to compromise on my main horns or recommend to beginners.

I would counter your argument with the fact that a beginner may not recognize the superiority of cane (in response, feel and sound) due to a lack of skill and experience. For example. a beginner can play a #1 strength reed and think it's the bees knees. But with a little more experience realize it's completely inadequate for playing the full range at full volume with good tone and intonation. It's easy to get a sound out of synthetic every time. It's more difficult, maybe even impossible, to get the best possible sound that a saxophone can make. Cane is still the real deal and synthetic is still the (attempted) copy.

This guy, whom I respect and trust, shares my sentiments exactly and probably expresses and demonstrates them more clearly than I can.

And for a good head to head of different brands, see:
 

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Alto and Tenor, prefer Martins Began playing March 2022
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I play them every day plus 5 hours worth of gigs last week. I sometimes have to make compromises in every facet of my like for the sake of convenience. This is the case with synthetics. So again, it's not lack of awareness or lack of skill or experience on my part. It's simply the recognition of good and bad. I realize a lot of great players also accept synthetics for what they are just as I do. I'm just not willing to compromise on my main horns or recommend to beginners.

I would counter your argument with the fact that a beginner may not recognize the superiority of cane (in response, feel and sound) due to a lack of skill and experience. For example. a beginner can play a #1 strength reed and think it's the bees knees. But with a little more experience realize it's completely inadequate for playing the full range at full volume with good tone and intonation. It's easy to get a sound out of synthetic every time. It's more difficult, maybe even impossible, to get the best possible sound that a saxophone can make. Cane is still the real deal and synthetic is still the (attempted) copy.

This guy, whom I respect and trust, shares my sentiments exactly and probably expresses and demonstrates them more clearly than I can.

And for a good head to head of different brands, see:
I like the Legere American Cut so much with my alto and tenor saxes that I tried a Legere on my clarinets and using different mouthpieces but could not make it work very well. I am using Rico Plasticovers, which seem to work pretty good for me. I need to put in a lot more time with the clarinet to have any informed opinion though. I have also tried on the tenors a Venn and didn't have much luck with it. I wasted my money on a Fiberreed Carbon and found that it plays great on my Indiana from low Bb up to about G, beyond which it gets very 'buzzy' and I can forget anything above middle C#. I can't imagine what MP that it was designed to work with and found that I can pretty much forget returning one. I am going to take it to the Sandborn house with me tomorrow and see if it plays any better on the old True Tone. I'll probably keep wasting money trying different synthetics though because I just like to try things. I found that I saturate cane reeds very quickly so I reckon I am stuck with Plasticovers or synthetics.
 

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Once again we have a resident know it all saying with an absolute certainty that people can't recognize the "the superiority of cane". What an ass! When other say that they prefer a synthetic you seem to have no way to say they are wrong. it's a personal opinion. Absolutism has no place in discussions where opinions are subjective.
 

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I do understand the logic of having a beginner start out on a synthetic reed that works more-or-less well, lasts a relatively long time, and will take out the variables of dealing with cane. But then there's this:
Yes beginners will sound terrible regardless. But they will miss out on learning on the real thing and experiencing the magic of a good cane reed.
I think there is value in learning to play on a cane reed. I've tried a number of synthetic reeds, including Legere which I initially thought came close enough to a good cane reed, until I started playing it on gigs and discovered it had a limited 'tonal range' (for lack of a better term). I soon went back to cane. Since it seems to me there still hasn't been anything that can truly replicate or replace cane (yet), it seems best to start out on cane and learn to play it.

That doesn't mean that an experienced player might not prefer synthetic (each to their own). But I realize a beginner isn't going to know the difference, so they might as well start on cane. In time, they can start experimenting with other reeds, including synthetic, once they have the basics down.

But I'm not a music teacher, so this is just my opinion based on my own playing experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
You convinced me. I continue with my vandoren java 2 and 1/2 with which I'm getting along well and I'll leave the Lègere for when I'll be able to understand the differences. thank you
 

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Once again we have a resident know it all saying with an absolute certainty that people can't recognize the "the superiority of cane". What an ass! When other say that they prefer a synthetic you seem to have no way to say they are wrong. it's a personal opinion. Absolutism has no place in discussions where opinions are subjective.
Only responding to the assertion from a beginner that I can’t recognize the superiority of synthetic after 40+ years of experience. Maybe it’s the beginner whose judgement is impaired. If you think Hartmann is a good reed by any stretch of the imagination, I find your judgement highly questionable as well.
 

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Hello everyone,

I joined the forum yesterday but have been playing the saxophone for about a year properly.

In my experience, I have come to prefer a setup that makes me practise without having to worry about all the moving parts with saxophone playing.

I play a Legere Sig reed with Selmer S80 C** on my alto (Yanagisawa AW010). I get a good hour and a half worth of practise without having to worry about anything with this setup. With cane reeds, and I have about 50 of these, I still cannot work out what works for me. Being self taught has made going for this setup quite workable for me. And I am progressing very well and I like the sound it produces only because it allows me to practise music without interruption or worry about anything.

I play a Legere Sig reed on my Tenor too. It is a Yanagisawa TW010 with Yanagisawa HR 7 mouthpiece that came with the horn. I bought the tenor 2 weeks ago and I am almost a huge fan of the way this setup works for me. I can get an additional 30mins technical practise with this set up. And as above.

For my Soprano, I have a Yamaha YSS 875EXHG and a Selmer Mark VI (1977). I am struggling with getting a set up that will help me practise on the soprano. Today I tried a cane reed on my Selmer S80 C* mouthpiece, it worked well and played all the notes all the way up to high F# without any problems, lows and highs are good but I just find it bright and hence too loud. Legere reeds are even louder but I can’t get all the notes out of it. Perhaps I need a slightly bigger tip opening or a higher strength reed. But the Legere doesn’t work for me at all, too loud.

Thank you for reading this and apologies for any obvious repetitions.

Thanks,
Dan
 

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Only responding to the assertion from a beginner that I can’t recognize the superiority of synthetic after 40+ years of experience. Maybe it’s the beginner whose judgement is impaired. If you think Hartmann is a good reed by any stretch of the imagination, I find your judgement highly questionable as well.
Is this a pissing contest? Yea, I've been playing for 65 years and still counting. So what! I started trying synthetics when they were awful, some still are awful, yet there are some that work for me. Do we all play the same horns or mouthpieces, or even the same style of music? Yet somehow whatever your reeds are (and horn and mouthpiece?) are the pinnacle of the saxophonist's experience. I have a lot of tracks available, with somewhere over 1.5 million listens. No complaints about about my tone, and in fact lots of compliments. I like playing synthetics, others obviously do as well. Have you been somehow voted the "Grand Wizard" of saxophone knowledge...the one opinion that must be obeyed? PLEASE desist you are an embarrassment!
 

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Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh. Nobody cares what you play. Everybody cares what you sound like. If you are more comfortable with synthetics, you will sound better on them because you are more comfortable, so play them and enjoy.

Of course, I just have to say, speaking as one with 65 years playing under my belt, if you are more comfortable on synthetics there must be something wrong with you. But I have learned to be tolerant of other’s foibles and idiocies… wait, did I say that out loud?
 

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Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh. Nobody cares what you play. Everybody cares what you sound like. If you are more comfortable with synthetics, you will sound better on them because you are more comfortable, so play them and enjoy.

Of course, I just have to say, speaking as one with 65 years playing under my belt, if you are more comfortable on synthetics there must be something wrong with you. But I have learned to be tolerant of other’s foibles and idiocies… wait, did I say that out loud?
:)
 
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