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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK...this is going to take a little brain-power from you guys who have been playing forever. I played tenor incessantly for 15 years or so, then stopped for 10 years, and now I'm back in, playing occasionally with a big band (Missouri Jazz Orchestra, or MOJO...check them out on facebook). I used to use #3.5 and #3 reeds all the time. My old mouthpiece is a Ponzol hard rubber with a 105 facing. I find that now, I need to use #2.5 reeds (Rico Royal), because #3s are too hard, but the #2.5s wear out too quickly, and they're too forgiving...I can't blow as loud as I used to, because I feel like they're going to clam up. If I buy a new Ponzol HR in a 100 or 95 facing, will that allow me to use #3 reeds with the same ease as the #2.5s play now? Unfortunately, I don't live in a town big enough where there's a store I can test them in, so I have to rely on the opinions of others. Any advice will be helpful. Thanks!
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Actually, breaking in the 3's properly will probably work better for you with your current setup. If you don't already have one, get a good reed knife and flatten the table of the reed after playing it a little. I find that makes what I thought were too stiff reeds much easier to work with.

Working the reed is cheaper than a new mouthpiece, and will likely work better for you in the long run. That said, it's pretty common to want a slightly softer reed for awhile after coming back from an extended hiatus. Been there, done that.
 

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Tell us how long you've been back and how often and how long you are practicing.

It sounds to me like you just do not have your chops back yet. Do you play well for the first ten minutes or so and then start feeling uncomfortable and then start feeling your going to, as you say, clam up? If so you are still simply out of shape. Everyone is different but it's going to take at least one hour a day for three to six months until you really get your muscle memory back and have that developed embouchure again.

Like the others, just play on some 2 1/2s or shaved 3s until you are back.

JR
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've been playing again for 4 months...and I can play extended sessions without feeling fatigue in my embouchure. I've done two and three hour gigs. I just have a feeling that the 95 or 100 might serve me better...but no way to test one.
 

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Four months, but again how often and how long are you practicing? Are you working those good long tones?

95 or 100 to .105 is not a significant jump in tip opening.

I'd still bet you are just not back in shape yet and the longer you play subconsciously you are tightening and or biting down.

JR
 

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Hey JD,
I had a similar issue when switching to my Guardala MBII from smaller tip opening HR pieces. I started with a Java 2 and worked my way up to a 2 1/2, then a 3. Maybe try practicing more often rather than fewer long sessions (every day for 30 mins vs every other day for 1 hour).
For straight ahead jazz, I play a .98 tip opening Vandoren piece with Java 3s and it feels a bit small at times. A smaller tip may help you for now, but you might be happier in the long run with the bigger sound and increased airflow of the 7* tip, since you have enjoyed this piece in the past.
Hope that helps!
 

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Experienced some similar things. Played 200+ gigs a year for 10 years and then dropped to 10 gigs a year - no practicing at all. I would struggle on my Ponzol 120 M2 to play the 3.5's I once played. I had a huge bit mark in that piece. After a few years I just decided to rethink it all. Tossed my embouchure and started all over on a modded 8* link with 2.5 reeds. Lots of relaxed long tones etc. no more biting - did the whole relaxed Allard approach. Now I play an LT Studio with 2.5's and get everything I'm after with ease. Good luck
 

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I hear you. Sounds like he wants to do anything including changing up his set-up so he can still play 3's.
Maybe a more discriminating selction and lengthier break-in process to soften up those 3's could help.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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I hear you. Sounds like he wants to do anything including changing up his set-up so he can still play 3's.
Maybe a more discriminating selction and lengthier break-in process to soften up those 3's could help.
Maybe, but I would just put in the effort required to play 2.5s successfully. That seems to be the obvious solution.
 

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JD seems to be evaluating his playing by 20 year old sensibilities too. If I stopped for 15 years, I can't imagine how I would sound or what I would be able to do embuchurilly speaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the opinions. Ego has nothing to do with it, though...it's dollars and frustration. The 2.5 reeds aren't lasting very long, and we all know how hard it is to find a good reed. Is that valid logic, or should the 2.5s be lasting just as long as 3s? It seems to me that since they're required to flex more to close the opening, the wood fibers would necessarily break down faster. I just don't have a reference point any more, but I seem to remember my best 3s and 3.5s lasting for up to 90 days before I had to trash them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Maybe I'm crazy...it's hard to remember how long they lasted.
 
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