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Discussion Starter #1
So how much do you care if a mouthpiece is reed friendly? I have several mpcs that I really like the sound of, but they are so fickle with reeds the mpc will seem to change over the course of a gig as the reed invariably warps and soaks up water. Particularly lately with a lot of family stuff going on and not a lot of time to mess around with reeds as well as playing shows where there is not time to take the reed off an adjust or switch I've gone to another mpc that is less appealing to me with the tone but is much more reliable with reeds and pretty much any old reed in any condition will work.


Follow up, what would be variables of mpc design that make a mpc more reed friendly? Flat table? Symmetrical facings? Shorter rather than longer facings?


Cheers,
ving
 

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incredibly important to me but getting them to be reed friendly is often as easy as flattening the table and rails....
 

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I can never commit to a reed unfriendly mouthpiece, like the JJ DV Chi (IMHO). As much as I may love the tone, the reed unfriendly mouthpiece will cause too many problems at gigs, where I have a lot of other issues to deal with. The reed friendliest piece I've owned is a 10Mfan Classic (EF version) - I could throw any reed on it, in the dark, and it would sound good.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
For me, I’ve been so in line with rpc mpcs for so long but always fought the reed battle with those.
 

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Extremely a big deal to me. Also important to me is how a mouthpiece feels on my chops on a long gig. Years back, I played some metal tenor mouthpieces (one in particular I loved the tone on) but my chops would get very tired on it on a long gig . I went back to hard rubber pieces which is what I started on to begin with. I also tend to prefer duck billed pieces as they feel best to me on long gigs. Every one is different.
Getting back to the reeds, they are the single biggest problem to just about any sax player, even with working on them. I can't imagine how the pros on all the big stages have to deal with this in a high profile gig.
I know Woody Reed has posted a lot about this and I can't imagine dealing with the reed problem playing a big gig behind someone like Tina Turner. Me , I am just a weekend warrior player but still suffer frustration with reeds after many years. I also cannot commit to a mouthpiece that is not reed friendly, very important to me
 

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Agree, sometimes but not always. Sometimes it is just bad cane to begin with
true. If I get something like a Meyer 5m, Selmer C*, etc etc. I will give it a couple of passes over my diamond flattening stone. You can easily see where the table and rails weren't perfectly level. After I figured that trick out and did it to my mouthpieces and it made a huge difference on everything. I give all of my reeds a couple of passes over it as well. Takes a negligible amount of material off but makes a world of difference. The stone is stupid cheap too, something like $15 on amazon
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Every mouthpiece should be reed friendly.

I don't understand the concept of a mouthpiece that isn't.

We use mouthpieces, we use reeds. Why use a mouthpiece that doesn't like reeds? Or can only work with a specific reeds that it is mates with?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I agree! Thus why I am checking out other brands again, just too much trouble to play a mpc that is reed finicky.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Another follow up: what are some other examples of a reed friendly mpc? Classic mentioned above, I have a v16 alto mpc that plays incredibly well with lavoz mediums with very little adjusting or messing around. On tenor lately I’ve given up on the rpcs and play a d Addario 8M select that is similar. I’ve pulled out random old reeds and had pretty good results with that mpc with very Little adjusting.
 

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most of it in my experience comes down to how well it was manufactured in the first place, i.e. flat tables and rails, even rails, level tip etc. Anything that has been refaced SHOULD be reed friendly, assuming it was done properly. All of the mouthpieces I play on regularly were either hand made by someone who knows what they're doing, AM Mouthpieces, etc. or has been refaced by someone like Mojo and I've never had any reed compatibility issues. Most of the mass produced mouthpieces I have were somewhat less easy to use until I flattened the tables, tips, and rails then they didn't have issues
 

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I will give it a couple of passes over my diamond flattening stone. You can easily see where the table and rails weren't perfectly level... Takes a negligible amount of material off but makes a world of difference. The stone is stupid cheap too, something like $15 on amazon
Could you please describe the flattening stone & the process in more detail? Size, grit, amount of pressure, & so forth. Thanks.
 

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Could you please describe the flattening stone & the process in more detail? Size, grit, amount of pressure, & so forth. Thanks.
I use this one
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TY15AQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I start on the "medium" size, and finish on the "fine" side. Very light pressure since you are not trying to remove lots of material, just flatten it. A bit more required with metal mouthpieces obviously. Reeds I just use the medium side and give it 5-6 passes every time I play if I'm using cane and 10-15 for the first time I use the reed. Just flattening the bottom of the reed and a bit more pressure than the mouthpiece. With the mouthpiece you will see the scratch marks on the table and you want to stop as soon as you see even scratch marks on the whole table. If you're nervous, you can put sharpie on the bottom of the mouthpiece. You'll see that the sharpie doesn't come off evenly at first and once it is level the sharpie will come off at once. Plenty of videos on flattening tables on youtube
 

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Critical to me and upon reflection, it is what I judge a mouthpiece by. For the benefit of anyone wondering what this is really about, it comes down to how easily a mouthpiece creates a tone. An easy-playing mouthpiece is by definition 'reed-friendly' because it can play with a harder reed than you usually use. This applies to a mouthpiece of the same tip you use or more open.
If you do get a mouthpiece with this ability, you have to be careful how strong a reed you use on it because since harder reeds now play, you might wear out your embouchure quicker until you get used to it.
There is also the element of the sax itself and how it feeds back through the mouthpiece, creating more resistance when it is not adjusted properly. This effect does creep up on you as you automatically compensate over time for leaks, then suddenly 'the reeds are no good anymore', so you are forced to use a softer reed. What happens when you get the sax fixed and play your easy-playing, 'reed-friendly' mouthpiece on it for the first time with one of those soft reeds? I experienced this recently for the first time in nearly 60 years of gigging - the horn played fine tooting around the house but when I got to the rehearsal and had to play louder, the reeds would 'collapse'. I had to move up a half-step in reed strength and I have been there since, about 4 months since I got the overhaul. It was fun going back through reeds that I had rejected and now finding great playing ones.
So, when you have a great mouthpiece and can use a harder reed, great things happen - more complexity creeps into your sound (regardless of mouthpiece design) and you have more control over what you're doing.
This effect is exactly the opposite of encountering a stuffy mouthpiece and having to reduce reed strength to get the tone and projection you are used to. You might wonder how certain players can play a #5 reed on a .130 tenor piece. Well, they obviously have some steel chops, but there are two mitigating factors; one, they most likely have a very easy-playing mouthpiece (relatively easy, that is) and two, as you know, reeds are not created equal, even out of the same box, so sometimes a #5 is not really a #5, especially after being tweaked for corrections.
 

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Does this mean that only some reeds play well, or only some BRANDS of reeds play well? Different mouthpieces may prefer different reed styles/strengths, but within that style and strength many reeds play well? That's reed friendly. Even more friendly are mouthpieces that allow you to choose a brand/style of reed to suit your taste and, perhaps, circumstances.

It comes down to two things - flat table, and even, well-formed facing curve. If the facing curve is lumpy, or uneven side to side, it will be "reed picky".

To me, a reed picky mouthpiece means that the piece is defective.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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To me, a reed picky mouthpiece means that the piece is defective.
Exactly.

It sounds like an excuse from a mouthpiece maker to deflect a legitimate customer query. I once tried some mouthpieces by a very well known manufacturer, I spent a long time trying trying different models and facings - it seemed he really wanted me to like them.

In the end I politely said they weren't for me. His answer was that I needed to use harder reeds with his mouthpieces. ie change my entire concept and embouchure to suit a mouthpiece brand.

I want to play the equipment, and use it to express what I have to say, not have it tell me what I should do or play.
 

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In a perfect world, all mouthpieces would be reed friendly and all reeds would me mouthpiece friendly. Alas......
I think we all strive to find a 'piece that gives us as close as what we're looking for as possible sound-wise. The bonus is then if that mouthpiece isn't finicky with reeds. Unfortunately, it's a fragile balance.
I will say this though..... I've NEVER had near the problems with reeds on alto as I have on tenor. Maybe that's because I'm primarily a tenor player and more picky myself? I do believe some mouthpieces are and aren't more reed friendly than others. The table, rails, etc. obviously come into play helping the read to seal properly with the ligature. There are just so many variables......like everything else!
Bottom line for me is I value the sound, response, etc I get from the mouthpiece before I worry about how many reeds from a box of 10 will play on it.
So to answer your question, sure, I value a reed friendly mouthpiece, but I value the sound, response, etc. more.
 

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If it's not reed friendly I'm not interested. I don't need that struggle before a gig, I need to know that whatever is in my case will work, no questions asked.

That said, anything with a good facing should be reed friendly.
 
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