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So I've been working like hell on my intonation. The long tones have allowed me to go from a 2.5 to a 3.0 La Voz and things are sounding better. I pick up an old two year old La Voz reed (3.0) and I notice that it is stiffer than the 3.0s I'm playing, but I think, well, it will lighten up as i play it. So i turn on the backing track and play Bill Bailey and I notice something. I think I'm perfectly in tune and I'm not even trying, I'm just blowing. Is this it? Have I been playing a too light reeds? It's hard to blow this stiff reed but not that uncomfortable and it sound so much better. Maybe I should be playing a 3.5? I've got a new sax and things have changed, but I'm not really sure what.
 

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When I play reeds that feel "too soft" to me, the pitch is generally less stable than with harder reeds. However, a lot of great players used soft reeds or hard reeds...
 

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For most people 3 should be sufficient for someone of your level. Remember that you shouldn't go up in reed strength just because you can, as many more advanced players prefer a 2.5 for example. If you want to experiment go ahead and try a 3.5. You can always revert back to the 3 if it doesn't work for you.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I have found that if intonation issues seem to be "cured" by a harder reed, then the problem is that the player is being too flexible on the previous softer reed and possibly could also benefit from more aural training. There is no reason why softer reeds can't be just as in tune as harder reeds, plus you get the advantages of a softer reed, but you need to learn to cope with the extra flexibility they give you.
 

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Sometimes it is possible that the reed strength is having an influence on intonation, in my experience. It depends on the player, the mouthpiece and how strong he is blowing. I for example am a very strong blower and my abilities to voice the notes with throat and tongue are good (after 20 years of playing). But still if i use a 2,5
v16 with a .85" mpc on alto, instead of a 3, i will get problems with intonation in the palm keys and pinkies. With the right strength i'm very accurate, is it too soft i get too low there, beyond the point were you can correct it and still feel comfortable (without warbling issues or biting). I think this happens more often to players who are used to be very relaxed in their throat.
Besides, the la voz medium hard reeds presently seem to be a half step lighter than in the rico comparison chart is shown.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Sometimes it is possible that the reed strength is having an influence on intonation,
I agree that changing reed strength can change the intonation, but if it does then I believe it is pointing to some other problem that could be the actual root cause, and the changing of reed strength is more of a band aid than a cure.
 

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is there anything wrong with useing a "band-aid" if it sounds good? I'll admit I have troubles controlling a softer reed, but The sound I create isn't my favorite, so I'm not too broken up.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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is there anything wrong with useing a "band-aid" if it sounds good?
No, it's absolutely fine. But I think it's good to be aware if that's what it is, in case you wanted to delve deeper to see if there is a real cause of the issue and one day work on that if it becomes necessary or useful to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll take a bandaid, but I will keep working on long tones and the intonation exercises I've developed.
 

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So I've been working like hell on my intonation. The long tones have allowed me to go from a 2.5 to a 3.0 La Voz and things are sounding better. I pick up an old two year old La Voz reed (3.0) and I notice that it is stiffer than the 3.0s I'm playing, but I think, well, it will lighten up as i play it. So i turn on the backing track and play Bill Bailey and I notice something. I think I'm perfectly in tune and I'm not even trying, I'm just blowing. Is this it? Have I been playing a too light reeds? It's hard to blow this stiff reed but not that uncomfortable and it sound so much better. Maybe I should be playing a 3.5? I've got a new sax and things have changed, but I'm not really sure what.
These are questions that have been puzzling me since I started (on tenor) 2 years ago. Everyone you ask seems to have a different opinion. I spoke with some pro saxophone players in the Swedish Radio Band (I live in Scandinavia) - some use a 7* mp with a softish reed, and others a smaller tip mp with a reed like a plank!

From my own (limited) experience it seems to me that harder reeds help intonation. But the choice of mp (it seems to me) is also important. I find my Yamaha 5C easier than a metal Link. My teacher gave me a simple rule, to find the reed suitable for your current needs. Work up from a #2 until you find the stiffest reed on which you can still blow bottom B and Bb without difficulty.

I know it's a very personal choice, but I like the Legere Studio Cut reeds. They come in 1/4 strength increments. I found that #2 1/2 reed with a Link 7 mp gives me the breathy dark sound which I (think I) want.

I play 2nd tenor in a big band, and find that I cannot always generate enough volume to play fours with the other tenor player over brass and rhytyhm backgrounds.

But it's early days yet. I guess this will improve.


Regards to all
 

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For good intonation to many players go for years before they learn (and some never learn) reed strength needs to be compatible with the facing curve of the mouthpiece being played. No matter how great or strong you think your "chops" are if you're playing on a reed that is too soft or too hard for the facing curve you will never achieve consistent intonation.

JR
 
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