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I play saxophone on the worship team at a music-oriented church. On Sunday mornings, at the beginning of service, we generally play for about an hour, which usually goes just great. Then the preacher delievers the sermon for maybe an hour or so. And then the band gets back up to play something soft and soothing. Here's the problem. Usually, when it's time to play something soft at the end of service, I can't get the sax to play quietly enough.

On the other hand, when playing on a fresh reed, I can play quietly just fine. But when the sax sits cold for an hour while the preaching occurs, and then I pick it back up to play again, it resists me. What can I do? My gut says that I should be removing the reed after the session and placing it in some kind of storage while we wait. Currently, I leave the sax on a sax stand during the sermon.
 

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Tell the preacher to shorten his sermon because your reed is getting dry.
Nobody needs to preach for an hour or make anybody sit in church for two hours.
There’s Sunday buffets to get to!
 

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That's right, the reed is drying out. This is basic woodwind knowledge - how can you be good enough to play in public and not even know one of the most basic things about playing a reed instrument?
You can eliminate this hassle by using a synthetic reed which does not need wetting. The 'Fibracell' reed is one of the least expensive synthetics and it looks and plays more like a real cane reed. They run soft so you're safe in getting one with the same strength number you're now using. Another favorite choice for many in this situation has traditionally been the Rico Plasticover which is a cane reed completely coated in a waterproof resin. It also plays without wetting. These tend to run a little harder so you probably would buy a half-step down from what you normally use.
BTW, a trick that pro players learn early on is to not take the reed off the mouthpiece or take the mouthpiece off the horn after you have tuned, played and now have a long break. Too many things can happen that would result in an embarrassing situation. If you're using cane reeds, you have to keep the sax with you so you can maintain the moisture in the reed. Using synthetics, you can 'set it and forget it'. I just played an outside gig the other day where it was hot and dry. I only use cane on tenor because its my main horn. The alto and baritone with synthetic reeds sat there on their stands for over an hour with no attention from me and played perfectly when I picked them up.
Synthetic reeds are a 'game-changer' when it comes to the working sax player, especially a doubler.
 

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Probably several ways to deal with your problem - already mentioned. Removing the reed and keeping it in your mouth during non-playing time may solve it. OR, take the reed with you when you leave the horn, then wet it briefly in your mouth, press the tip against the mouthpiece-table with your thumb for a few seconds (which will straighten out the tip), re-affix it and play. DAVE
 

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I forgot to mention something - its so much of a 'no-brainer' that I just take it for granted that everybody uses them, but....
Anyway, its the reed cap. It will slow down the drying out of the reed to some extent and it protects the reed when the horn is on the stand with various lummoxes moving around the stage. I have plenty of gigs where its close quarters and I will back into my baritone reed if the cap is not on. You can imagine this show - 3 saxes, 3 caps on/off the whole gig. But at least I don't have reed emergencies and my cane reed doesn't dry out in most outside weather within 30 minutes and is probably good for an hour inside.
 

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Tell the preacher to shorten his sermon because your reed is getting dry.
Nobody needs to preach for an hour or make anybody sit in church for two hours.
There’s Sunday buffets to get to!
+1! Then again, I don't know much about sermons, since I haven't been inside a church in over 40 years. I prefer nightclubs...

Anyway, the first respondent (post #2) gave you the answer. After an hour the reed will likely dry out more than you'd want (as you've already found out), so you simply have to wet it again. And yeah, be sure to use the mpc cap.
 

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Switch to synthetics. I like Legere and Fibracell, which are probably the two most readily available brands. You could also try Hartmann Fiberreeds, and maybe Forestone. Unfortunately it's not exactly cheap trying to find what works best, but when you do you'll be set!
 

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Switch to synthetics.
Assuming you can find one you like as much as a good cane reed (and you're willing to spend some $$ to find out). I can see some good reasons to switch to synthetic (if you're doubling a lot or playing in a really hot, dry climate), but in the OP's situation here, I don't see where it's such a big deal to dip the reed into a glass of water prior to playing the second set. Just wet the ^&*% thing!

What was it Dexter said? "Happiness is a wet reed" (Rico reed, I think in his quote)
 

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All of the above and in addition, blow through your horn without playing to make sure the metal is warmed up before you start playing. Taking off the reed may be a really bad idea, especially if it is a badly lit place and you could screw things up really by either damaging it or misaligning when you put it back on. Last not least, some mouthpieces are really hard to play soft, others are perfectly suited for that and you want to use a very soft reed and most importantly, playing a saxophone very soft is an acquired skill, that needs to be practiced. It's one of the few things I am kind of good at, which gets me gigs in Sunday matinees and brunches where people like to have background music that does not disturb their conversations.

You may also take of the resonators from your pads, you'll be surprised how soft that will make the horn :)
 

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I didn't read for all the details but something I've done when a reed double will sit for a while is to take a small piece of paper napkin, wet it, and stuff it down into the mouthpiece cap so it keeps that reed well humidified. At the end of the night you just tap the cap smartly on the floor and the little plug of wet paper napkin drops out and you throw it away.
 

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Keep the cap on the reed. For my Link mouthpieces, the cap of which has a giant hole at the end, I sealed the end with a piece of old pad leather - this helps keep the reed moist. Another thing you can do is keep a glass of water handy, and about 5 or 10 minutes before you are going to play again, take the neck off the horn and dunk the mouthpiece and reed into the water, up to the edge of the ligature. Hold it there a minute, then let it drain and put the cap back on. You will be good to go. (That's assuming you don't want to be rude to the preacher and leave the area during the sermon. If you do leave, just wet the reed under a faucet before you have to go back on.)

I like turf3's idea too.
 

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Remember the old saying about the only dumb question is the one you didn't ask. No shame in not knowing everything there is to know about sax or anything else.
 

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I play saxophone on the worship team at a music-oriented church. On Sunday mornings, at the beginning of service, we generally play for about an hour, which usually goes just great. Then the preacher delievers the sermon for maybe an hour or so. And then the band gets back up to play something soft and soothing. Here's the problem. Usually, when it's time to play something soft at the end of service, I can't get the sax to play quietly enough.

On the other hand, when playing on a fresh reed, I can play quietly just fine. But when the sax sits cold for an hour while the preaching occurs, and then I pick it back up to play again, it resists me. What can I do? My gut says that I should be removing the reed after the session and placing it in some kind of storage while we wait. Currently, I leave the sax on a sax stand during the sermon.
Are you using a mouthpiece cap? That usually puts my reed in stasis well enough. But yeah, letting it get cold and dry is not a good thing. They tend to warp and get disagreeable.
 

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That's right, the reed is drying out. This is basic woodwind knowledge - how can you be good enough to play in public and not even know one of the most basic things about playing a reed instrument?
Wow dude, are you trying to run people out of here? Not cool at all. I've been playing professionally for 21 years and there are still basic things like that I am picking up. For instance I didn't know how to properly adjust reeds with sandpaper until last year, until I had to learn because I was blowing too much cash on synthetics which simply aren't economical when you're performing and practicing full time, nor do they sound as good as cane. And I was playing in church and at my Grandfather's Elk's meetings when I was a beginner and knew little to nothing about things like keeping reeds wet. Not sure why you think beginners don't play in public because I've been doing it since I started. One thing I know for sure is I steer clear of jazzholes, i.e. elitists that snub and abuse the newbs out of some sadistic pleasure or narcissistic self-righteousness. At some point everyone was just starting out, learning the basics and mostly sounding awful. But someone out there encouraged us, and made us feel safe and inspired to continue working on our skills, slowly getting better and did not feel the need to be condescending and unkind about our lack of knowledge. That's the type of pro I try to be. I have no use for the other kind and I never hire them either, can't stand bad attitudes in my workspace.
 

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Wow dude, are you trying to run people out of here? Not cool at all. I've been playing professionally for 21 years and there are still basic things like that I am picking up. For instance I didn't know how to properly adjust reeds with sandpaper until last year, until I had to learn because I was blowing too much cash on synthetics which simply aren't economical when you're performing and practicing full time, nor do they sound as good as cane. And I was playing in church and at my Grandfather's Elk's meetings when I was a beginner and knew little to nothing about things like keeping reeds wet. Not sure why you think beginners don't play in public because I've been doing it since I started. One thing I know for sure is I steer clear of jazzholes, i.e. elitists that snub and abuse the newbs out of some sadistic pleasure or narcissistic self-righteousness. At some point everyone was just starting out, learning the basics and mostly sounding awful. But someone out there encouraged us, and made us feel safe and inspired to continue working on our skills, slowly getting better and did not feel the need to be condescending and unkind about our lack of knowledge. That's the type of pro I try to be. I have no use for the other kind and I never hire them either, can't stand bad attitudes in my workspace.
+1
I've been playing for 30 years (not professionally) and am still picking up tips.
 

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I have the same routine in church as you but my alto reed stays fine with the cap on, when playing only alto. I had trouble when picking up the soprano during the alto tacets (to harass the oboe!). What fixes that is Plasticover reeds - you don't have to wet them. They do have a bit different sound and response tho - a bit brighter for me.
 

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I'm down with the "take your mp with you idea." I've also found that using plasticover or other synthetic reed products cuts way down on the environmental effects. They also break in right away and last a LONG time before breaking down.
 
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