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Discussion Starter #1
When do you start changing the reed, and how can you know a reed is getting bad?

On my prev sax I knew the reed was getting bad, when it was continuously harder to get the high and low notes correctly without squeeking, but perhaps I used my reed too long.

Is there a certain rule of the tumb on how long to keep the reed?
 

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...it seems to me that my reeds never die!!! so i'm as well perplexed
 

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I tend to keep my reeds longer than I should. I usually retire them when I have too much trouble hitting the high notes without partially closing the airway.

Especially when I find an especially good one, I actually hate to retire it ;-)

Notes
 

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When it's time to go, it's time to go. You'll know when.
 

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Over time reeds get weaker through constant playing. I have heard that the enzymes in one's saliva "digests" a small part of the reed each time we play. Whether that is true or not, I can't say. One issue caused by the reed getting weaker is that if one plays the same reed constantly, the embouchure muscles gradually lose their strength and muscle tone over time. That in addition to playing on a reed that is too soft causes the tone to suffer.

I have taught my students to find at least 4 reeds that play well and to number them and rotate them as they practice. Eventually the player will like the way one plays over the others and this becomes his/her "pet reed" to use when performing, auditioning, playing in lessons, recording, etc. An axiom that has been true in my experience is that as one's playing skill and experience increases, the pool of reeds that play satisfactorily gets smaller and smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Is there a specific time you usually have to switch the reed?
Like a guitar player, with metal strings usually changes the strings every 2 weeks to a month for pro players. The advanced player changes about twice per year, and the guy who either loves the duller sound of worn out strings, those who don't have the money, or those who just don't care about their instruments should change it every year to two years.

How much of this average interval applies to sax players? (eg: those who play less than 4 hours per week; those who play less than 10 hours per week, and those who play almost daily)?
 

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Is there a specific time you usually have to switch the reed?
Like a guitar player, with metal strings usually changes the strings every 2 weeks to a month for pro players. The advanced player changes about twice per year, and the guy who either loves the duller sound of worn out strings, those who don't have the money, or those who just don't care about their instruments should change it every year to two years.

How much of this average interval applies to sax players? (eg: those who play less than 4 hours per week; those who play less than 10 hours per week, and those who play almost daily)?

Nope, there's no such clean rules. Sorry. For me, it depends on the brand of reed I'm using, how vigorously I'm playing, whether I'm practicing overtones or using altissimo (which taxes the reed faster, IMO), and a bunch of other factors. When a reed dies, I happily crush it in the nearest ashtray at the bar, slap another one on there, and move on.

I tend to move through reeds rather quickly. But I play cheap reeds (Rico Orange Box) and a lot of what I do is blues/r&b work where I'm expected to really BLOW those things.
 

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Is there a specific time you usually have to switch the reed?
Like a guitar player, with metal strings usually changes the strings every 2 weeks to a month for pro players. The advanced player changes about twice per year, and the guy who either loves the duller sound of worn out strings, those who don't have the money, or those who just don't care about their instruments should change it every year to two years.

How much of this average interval applies to sax players? (eg: those who play less than 4 hours per week; those who play less than 10 hours per week, and those who play almost daily)?
My strings are audibly worn after about 4-5 hours. Unless I am gigging or otherwise on display sheer laziness tends to let changing them slide until they start to rattle. I have a friend who plays about 10 hours a day and as he gets free strings changes them every day and a fresh set for every gig and recording session. For me that would equate to about $2,500 a year which would mean giving up a holiday or something.

+1 on the reed telling you when it wants to retire. It' soooooo much easier than changing strings.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My strings are "audibly worn" after about 4-5 hours.
That's quite a statement!
Sure they lose their newness after a few hours, but I'd hardly call that 'worn'.
Changing strings every day is not good for the instrument neither. tuners and other materials may wear faster that way.
I generally change my strings before major gigs, or recordings. Otherwise once every 6 months.
A lot of the brightness can be gained back by dialing in the highest frequencies (between 6 and 12kHz) on an equalizer, without hearing any difference to new strings (at least not for the first month). Guitar strings may need changing more often than bass strings though.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've had this plastic reed container once, which could hold up to 4 reeds at a time. I needed to insert the thin part in there, but after a month or 2 I saw that the used reed's surface started to wave (no longer was straight).

I had to replace mine in 2 months; just before I sold it. I find it interesting that some people can last a year with a reed!
 

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Two weeks seems to be the going rate for me. Very few ever last longer. They die in all sorts of ways but the big reason is they stop responding to pp as they used to and the top end fades. It's such a simple joy when you play a new reed.

I love hearing the clear differences a good reed produces.

Harv
 

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I had to replace mine in 2 months; just before I sold it. I find it interesting that some people can last a year with a reed!
Anyone who can get a cane reed to last a year must only play about 1 hour a month! I can usually get about three 4-hour gigs out of a reed, then maybe a few additional practice hours until it goes in the the trash.

But you already answered your own question in the first post: "On my prev sax I knew the reed was getting bad, when it was continuously harder to get the high and low notes correctly..."

Just keep playing; in time you'll know exactly when a reed is worn out.
 

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ive been on the same reed (more than less) for approaching 3 months...i practice at home,on average, close to 2 hours a day

it is a vintage rico V-2
 

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That's quite a statement!
Sure they lose their newness after a few hours, but I'd hardly call that 'worn'.
Changing strings every day is not good for the instrument neither. tuners and other materials may wear faster that way.
I generally change my strings before major gigs, or recordings. Otherwise once every 6 months.
A lot of the brightness can be gained back by dialing in the highest frequencies (between 6 and 12kHz) on an equalizer, without hearing any difference to new strings (at least not for the first month). Guitar strings may need changing more often than bass strings though.
I regret not being clearer. My comments were relative to my acoustic GJ guitar where the G string and D string get pretty abused and having only a thin winding and after 4 - 5 hours :( the parts of the string that touch the frets can be felt to have a real dip. This affects the intonation a bit and after around 30- 40 hours the winding usually separates from the core. The area of the strings that gets played also wears but more slowly.

I note you play electric and that is a totally different situation I gather from your comments. When I played classic guitar they lasted for months IF memory serves.:bluewink:

Our comments only go to emphasize that a lot depends on what reed one uses and how it's used. I scrape and fiddle with mine a lot as I find the back or the reed that mounts on the table warps with repeated wet/dry cycles. Some more than others I suspect.

The person I referred to who changes strings every day also plays an acoustic instrument and he really digs in with thumbpick and metal fingerpicks. He can eat through a thumbpick in a day as well as a set of strings.
 
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