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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Légère Reeds Review

A lot of folks have been asking for info on the Légère product lines here in the Reeds thread.

This is a review that I put together for Tim at Légère a few months ago. Enjoy:

In this turbulent economy and in these potentially trying times, what society really needs is music. Time and time over, through bull and bear, history has shown us that it is our vices that are the last things to go when financial unrest threatens our wallets, and are the first thing to return when times are good again. We are passionate about our music. Passion is perhaps the singular, most driving force behind the creation of products used by today's performing musicians. Oftentimes, however, the average musician does not realize the love that goes into the gear they use. The Légère Reed Co. are the creators of an entire line-up of wonderful products designed to allow the artist to fervently express their music under the most extreme and trying situations.

As one of the newest Légère artists, I was given the opportunity to test and review saxophone reeds for my personal performance use and asked to give feedback. This was particularly exciting for me because I had been playing on the same strength of Légère Studio Cut reeds for about 2 years by this point, and was going to have the opportunity to try the newer line of Signature reeds for my horns. I could not open the box fast enough when the shipment arrived.

Before we get in too deep, it is prudent to know a bit of the Légère back story.
Founded by Dr. Guy Légère and Dr. Mark Kortschot, both scientists, Légère Reeds began as a search for a material to help Guy Légère build a reed that would satisfy his needs while playing in the Brampton Symphony Orchestra. 13 years later, Légère Reeds are among the best products available for woodwind players.
Made from polypropylene, a material designed to "mimic the important properties of damp cane as closely as possible", the reeds are audibly greater than or equal to the finest in traditional cane reeds. The biggest difference being the material itself. The composite material that is unique to Légère allows the reeds to perform like a bionic version of a reed: better, stronger, faster, and with more longevity.

So, essentially, Légère re-designed the wheel, giving players an option of spending tons of time caring for cane reeds pre and post performance, or using a product that would be all the romance without the heart-ache. In addition, having seen the Légère shop first-hand, I can attest to the extensive amount of testing that the reeds undergo to insure a quality product.

As for my use of these reeds, I have a situation no less demanding than any other working player. Other work notwithstanding, as a member of a show band, I must play up to 4 hours straight. The reeds simply have to keep up. I consider myself more a rock performer than anything else. I am going to pound on the reeds for loud, pop-type solos, then go back to the section. We're going to perform our section work while doing the choreographed dances, shake heartily, serve over ice, and repeat! When it is all said and done, I am going to ride my gear hard and put it away wet. It's just the way it goes.

Légère has also created a useful tool for the new and aspiring reed player. A player's musical playing gear should not cause them undue stress. Students and new players are thrust into an already stressful position when they are initiated into this musical world, having to learn the complex function of the instrument, positioning, embouchure, reading music, etc. Not to mention, peer pressure and the stress of self consciousness. Why add a flimsy, temperamental piece of wood to the equation? Légère provides a solution to the problem of reed response because they are made to play consistently. The Légère reed does not require time to soak, giving the director added time with the students. The polycarbonate material is much stronger than cane, and will put up with more mishandling- which is going to happen with students.

As it pertains to saxophone reeds, there are three options: Légère Classic series, Studio Cut, and the newest Signature Series. My focus for review have been on the latter two.

The Classic series is the darkest of the three options, recommended for the concert player requiring a reed more conducive to ensemble environments.

The Studio Cut is an edgy, aggressive reed with a degree of buzz that is easy to blow and perfect for the pop/rock, and R&B player- a perfect soloist reed.

Finally, the Signature Series is very similar to the Studio Cut in that it has the potential to blow with an aggressive tone, but is designed to physically feel thicker and have a more solid, centered tone similar to American Jazz cut reeds while still allowing the performer to produce a bright, clear sound.
The difference in the tonal experience between the Signature and the Studio Cut reeds is like finding a cleaner fuel source for a fast car. Whereas the Studio is more down and dirty, the Signature is a bit more controlled, with a slightly cleaner altissimo register. Both are wonderful performers!

Ultimately, reed selection is a personal task requiring time, patience, and personal honesty. I'd found reeds in the past that I, like most of us, chose to play simply because I knew someone great used them or because a friend recommended them. You know within seconds onstage whether the reed is right for your performance sound. Though, it is often hard to know when you are initially trying a reed, or mouthpiece for that matter, whether it will truly be what you require in a performance setting. It is all about the trials and putting the new gear through the paces it will face on the road before it ever gets there. For me, Légère allows my style of play to stay consistent and gives me less to worry about when it's time to just play some music.

The following are my personal shorthand notes I have made on some various models and strengths of the Légère reeds:

Tenor:
Studio Cut 3- Very used to it, from using it previously. Upper register tends to feel a bit sharp. Altissimo G, G#, B, and C come out clean with alternate fingerings, but A is still troublesome. Thick lower register. Full middle register with nice buzz.

Signature Series 3.25- Too large for my mouthpiece setup. Lots of room. Would sound nice on a piece with a smaller tip opening.

Signature Series 3- Feels thicker and more free blowing than the Studio Cut 3. Significantly more breathy. Heart feels thick similar to a Vandoren V16, an American-style jazz cut as it pertains to lows and mids. Takes more embrochure control than the Studio Cut to keep from blowing sharp. Feels almost 1/4 strength harder than its listed number.

Signature Series 2.75- Only slightly less breathy than the Signature in 3. Still thick feeling, but though the tone is warm, can still be pushed for a nice edgy, projected sound. Feels almost old school- like finding that 1:20 reed ratio with cane. Close to perfect for me.

Signature 2.5- This might be the one! Feels exactly like the best parts of the 2.75 Signature combined with the impressive tone and edge of the Studio Cuts. Easy and free blowing. Nice control.

Alto:
Studio Cut 3- Nice sounding reed. Clear attacks. Easy to play at soft volumes. Clean subtones. Less lower lip pressure is required to control immediate tone. Easier to play overall than most reeds.

Signature Series 2.5- When compared to the Studio Cut, the Studio Cut reed suddenly sounds stuffy! The Signature feels almost as hard as a #3 in anything else. More lower lip is required to control the tone, but it is free on the nasal-buzz that seemed to come with the Studio. Palm key notes and altissimo speak loud and fast. Feels open, but controlled. Not as edgy as the Studio, but still not restricted.

Soprano:
Légère Classic 3- The more recently produced Classic model seems to be stronger, harder. The contrast in regards to back pressure is large when comparing a brand new Classic reed with an older Classic model of the same size. The Classic gives a stiff, breathy tone. Lots of stock control, but not a lot of power.

Signature Series 3- Worlds more comfortable with reference to pressure. Not difficult to keep in tune, but still allows for creative room. Slightly edgy and bright. Immediately noticeable is the lack of white noise (that's what I call the sound of air rushing over collections of moisture sitting on the back of the reed).

Signature Series 3.25- Here it is. Exactly what I felt with the Signature 3, but with a bit more freedom to move.

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Hopefully this helps a few folks out there!!!
 

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Re: Légère Reeds Review

Are you not using them on Bari? Or did you not mention anything about their Bari reeds because they don't have all the lines out for them?
 

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Re: Légère Reeds Review

What mouthpieces are you pairing with these reeds?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Légère Reeds Review

Docrob- I had not had a ton of time (when first I did the write-up) to fully review the Baritone reeds. Since then, however, I really enjoyed the Classic series paired with a Berg .115 1 M, also with a Brilhart Levelaire metal .110.

The response is quick and clean, and the tone is nice and fat. If you want more specifics, let me know because I can get long winded (see above!)!!

Dr G- Ha! Totally forgot to list that! For tenor I used a Theo Wanne Durga, WW Guardala Super King, and RPC .115B for various trials. The majority of the article influence focused on the Durga.
For alto I mainly used a Bari RC6. But recently I picked up a vintified Durga 9 and I can only add that I have gone down 1/8 of a reed size with that piece.

For soprano, I tested them on a Selmer SS G and Bari .064. The tonal difference with these reeds on the Bari vs Vandoren Javas and Rico Selects was uncanny. Plus, it is REALLY nice for doubling (not spending a ton of time re-wetting the reed).
 

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Re: Légère Reeds Review

Thanks for the review. Can you tell us what cane reeds you had been playing in order to get some strength comparison?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Légère Reeds Review

Surely-
Previously I'd been using Vandoren ZZ tenors, Java Altos, Blue box baris, and Rico Slect Jazz sopranos.

When it came down to side-by-sides, I gathered up samplings of those 4 lines (like most of us, my buddies and i have half boxes of reeds sitting aroung and it was just a matter of gathering some for sampling) and played them along with the Legeres.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Légère Reeds Review

Koumou- Answered.
 
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