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Discussion Starter #1
since i started i have been playing tenor sax with Vandoren v16 reeds, strength 2. that along with my S80 C* mouthpiece, i get a really warm sound that i can reach both the lower and higher notes. i recently brought some vandoren strength 2-1/2 reeds and i had a few problems. i found that there was a lot of hissing and id lost that tone that i liked with the 2's. i was just trying out different reeds, and i was just wondering why is there a lot of hissing, and i find it a lot harder to play. im guessing that my embrochure isnt up to scratch or something. I thought the best way to get a different feel for reeds was to try them out, so thats what i did :) thanks, ash.
 

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The 2.5 is a harder reed, of course. That is what you are experiencing. Also, I find it takes a few playing sessions to break in a reed. V16s are a bit harder at a given number, than many other reeds. Still a 2.5 shouldn't be too hard for the mpc you are using. Try breaking in the reed by playing it for 10 minutes (at most) the first time, then the next day for 15 minutes, then the next for 20 minutes. After about a week it should be playing a lot better.
 

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What JL said.

And welcome to SOTW young man. Don't be a stranger. :)
 

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If you like your sound on a 2, then why not stay with a 2? Don't get caught up in the thought that you have to "work your way up" to playing a harder reed. But I do realize as a player matures and develops there will likely come a time when he/she has to move to a harder reed.
Personally I play fairly soft reeds. I just prefer the sound and the feel.
Are you working with an instructor? Do they have any input?
 

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It's your embouchure. You're headed in the right direction. Work with that 2.5 for a while. Many young players like the sound they get with softer reeds, because it seems "jazzier." But, you need to strengthen your embouchure by moving up reed strengths. Of course, you shouldn't just keep going on up to a 5. You should get to at least 3 Traditional on a C*, but no harder than 3.5, I would think. Once your embouchure is built up, you'll find that you don't need soft reeds to get that jazzy tone. Good luck and keep practicing.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I don't believe that embouchure should be strengthened by switching to harder reeds. harder reeds can be an easy way to strengthen your embouchure, but I've found it's more worthwhile to work at your embouchure without having to get harder reeds - yes (this may surprise a few) sometimes softer reeds can be harder to play. You need to work at training your embouchure (plus diaphragm support) to get volume out of softer reeds, in the end its worth the struggle as you can get a better flexibility of tone with softer reeds (and better control of low notes as well as high) - never any need to go harder than 2.5 IMO, and nothing wrong with staying with a 2.

I think wider tip openings are worth investigating though, but best done with the help of a teacher.
 

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i.'ll back Pete up on that one. Softer reeds have a broader dynamic range and even though years ago i got caught up in the hard reed machismo thing, now i play on 2.5s . If you are happy on 2s (and i never thought i'd agree with our biker friend) do as he says and stay on 2s.
 

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Pete and Selmer - but you guys aren't playing these on C* openings are you? I'll bet you're playing on mpcs with much larger openings.
 

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yeah i do play a wider piece, but i still encourage my students to play on what they are comfortable on. i find that students who are happy on a 2 with a 5 tip opening are still happy on a 2 with a 7 tip opening as opposed to harder reeds.
 

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Okay, but what mouthpieces are you guys playing? He's playing a C*. No teacher or player I've ever met would recommend anything softer than a 3 on a C*, especially on tenor. Of course you should play 2.5s or even softer on open jazz mouthpieces, but not on C*'s. All this assuming the C* is an accurate facing.

On strengthening embouchure: soft reeds are definitely hard to play. But, before we get into this, keep in mind that reed strengths are relative. A 2.5 on a C* is soft, while on a 9*, it's hard. I believe there is an ideal strength range for every mouthpiece, to reach its full potential. On a C*, I believe between a 3 and 3.5 Vandoren Traditional is ideal. Playing a 2.5 on a C* will yield slightly better response and play louder, but makes control of pitch and tone very difficult. On the other hand a 3 still has good response, but gives reasonable control of the mouthpiece. For these reasons, I prefer to stay away from statements such as "softer reeds can be harder to play." Although it is true to an extent, the fact is that soft reeds are hard to play because of this lack of control. This may be a 2.5 on a C* or a 1.5 on a 9*. It's all relative.
 

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Hah...Gary beat me to it.


P.S.:
yeah i do play a wider piece, but i still encourage my students to play on what they are comfortable on. i find that students who are happy on a 2 with a 5 tip opening are still happy on a 2 with a 7 tip opening as opposed to harder reeds.
If a student is playing a 2 on a 5 opening and moves up to a 7 opening, I hope you're not suggesting they play harder reeds? Wider tip opening means softer reeds, generally.
 

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I generally encourage my students to try a wider tip opening than a harder reed. i just don't think hard reeds have great dynamics.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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gary said:
Pete and Selmer - but you guys aren't playing these on C* openings are you? I'll bet you're playing on mpcs with much larger openings.
Mostly true, but I experiment with lots of the old mouthpiececs in my box and many are quite narrow, they still work for me witha 2.5.

Ash is having a problem with 2.5 on a C*, I'm just saying no need to go harder, but it might be worth trying a wider a tip. I'm always a bit wary of making any online advice sound too definite though - a good human teacher needs to really be there
 

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Pete Thomas said:
I'm always a bit wary of making any online advice sound too definite though - a good human teacher needs to really be there
Yeah, but where would these guys go who don't listen to a word their teachers say? :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
thanks for all of the responses and ill try to take note of everyones advice. i havent got a teacher at the moment, but i should be sorting that out fairly soon, so that should be better. im going to try and 'break' the reed in. ive only just got these vandoren 2.5s so they probably do need wearing in. ive had the vandoren v16 - 2 for about 2 weeks and it feels worn in. i dont know how long reeds are supposed to last, but im still getting a good sound out of it. My friend uses vandoren 3's with the same mouthpiece and he told me to keep at it, and it took him a while to get a good sound out of the harder reed. so for now, i guess ill also use my 2, but try and break in the 2.5s. like i said, things should get easier when i get a teacher :) thanks again for the replies, much appreciated
 

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asht89,

You need to also be aware that going to a harder reed on your favorite mpc can introduce subtle intonation changes on some notes. Posture and breath support are just as imortant as proper embouchre development, IMHO. It is not necessary to be so busy. In summary: 1. good posture yet relaxed, 2. take a deep breath in anticipation of the next downbeat.
 
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