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So I had a mild epiphany today as I was preparing for my gig tonight. I was trying to find the best alto reed/mpc combination in my case and closet before heading to the local music store to buy yet more reeds, etc. It occurred to me that the mpc I currently use for lead alto gigs, a Beechler Diamond hard rubber, was designed in an era that predates many of the newer brands like Jazz Select, Java (Green and Red), Rigotti, etc. so maybe there was a magic reed hiding the an old Rico Royal box. Lo and behold, a new 2.5 Rico Royal was fantastic and will be my first reed choice tonight.

So, my question is, to what extent, if any, are mouthpieces designed or tested around specific reeds? or are they just built to a particular set of specs and it's up to us players to find what we're comfortable with? Do older reed designs work better on older mouthpieces? Green Javas had been working fairly well but were always too resistant and tiring after awhile, but now I'm sold on good old Rico Royals for that setup. I'm not advocating for the brand, just interested by the differences in design over the years.
 

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I never heard of sax mouthpieces being designed for a particular type of reed, but matching the tip rail curve to the reed’s tip profile can be a factor. Both can vary.
 

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It occurred to me that the mpc I currently use for lead alto gigs, a Beechler Diamond hard rubber, was designed in an era that predates many of the newer brands like Jazz Select, Java (Green and Red), Rigotti, etc. so maybe there was a magic reed hiding the an old Rico Royal box. Lo and behold, a new 2.5 Rico Royal was fantastic and will be my first reed choice tonight.

So, my question is, to what extent, if any, are mouthpieces designed or tested around specific reeds?
I doubt that any mpcs are designed around a specific reed brand; however, it's quite possible that some mpc designers use their favorite reed brand to test out their mpcs as they make them. In which case there may be some correlation between certain mpcs and how well they perform with certain reed brands. I don't know if that's truly the case or how common it is. I know that Ron Cuelho (RPC mpcs) once told me he used Rico Jazz Select reeds when testing his mpcs and recommended those reeds on the RPC (he also recommended Rigottis).

So you may have discovered something there, but more likely than not it's kind of an illusion. The fact is another player might not like the Rico Royals on your mpc and may prefer some other brand reed. It's really subjective and reed preferences are all over the place from one player to the next, even on the same mpcs.
 

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Certain reed cuts perform better on mouthpieces with a shorter facing curve, other reed cuts will perform better with medium to long facing curves.

But in the end it's like JL says, everybody will have his own preference about playing characteristics and in general mouthpieces are not designed for one type of reed.
 

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I think so, in my experience Vandoren mouthpieces are definitely made to match with Vandoren reeds (on the box of the mouthpiece are reccomendations for reed cut and strength), I would not be surprised if the same applies for D'addario/Rico.
 

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Sounds like the OP simply found a good reed for his normal mouthpiece that was roughly equal to his other reeds.
Most mouthpiece makers take their tip rail shape from a popular reed at the time of manufacture, possibly trying some different ones to make sure the mouthpiece can handle most anything. Reed makers maintain certain parameters so their reeds will work on the average mouthpiece. Somehow it all works out - we buy reeds and they match the mouthpiece, while at the same time there really is no standard reed shape or mouthpiece shape. And, whatever reed the mouthpiece maker used to make his final adjustments really doesn't matter - whatever reed you need to make it work for you is the right reed.
With a certain mouthpiece, you find that all the reeds you like on it are of a similar 'power range' - that is, the reed is stiff enough to not close up on you when you play hard but is also responsive enough to give you a full sound at low pressure. This is why I don't try to 'make a mouthpiece work for me' by going outside of that power range with completely different reeds - any different mouthpiece has to be in that 'sweet spot', simply because I know what works for me under any conditions and I have no interest in starting over with my set-up.
 

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I think so, in my experience Vandoren mouthpieces are definitely made to match with Vandoren reeds (on the box of the mouthpiece are reccomendations for reed cut and strength), I would not be surprised if the same applies for D'addario/Rico.
So, by your reasoning if I have a Vandoren mouthpiece, but I only have Rico reeds, that mouthpiece won't play well. "On the box of the mouthpiece are recommendations for reed cut and strength." Of course they're going to recommend you use their brand of reed, it's called marketing. Maybe the Vandoren reeds work well with your MP just because they're good reeds. I use Javas, they're consistent, play well, and I get more playable reeds per box, and I don't even have a Vandoren mouthpiece.
 

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A well made piece should perform well with any good make of reed.

The rest boils down to if it works for the specific player and hismor her needs
 

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Certain reed cuts perform better on mouthpieces with a shorter facing curve, other reed cuts will perform better with medium to long facing curves.

But in the end it's like JL says, everybody will have his own preference about playing characteristics and in general mouthpieces are not designed for one type of reed.
This is true in my experience. I have found that my Rigotti reeds do not play well for me on 3-4 tenor mouthpieces I have with shorter facing curves of 48. They are stiff as a board and edgy. I find Vandoren Java green box reeds work really well on those mouthpieces.......
 

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I think a well faced and made piece will generally respond quite well with a variety of reeds/cuts etc.
Whether the response is what you’re looking for or not is a different matter.
I’ve heard the excuses that some makers use for poor performing pieces that you need to use a certain type of reed.
I’d steer away from these pieces as there is a reason that some pieces will only work with a certain reed, and I believe it is that they are poorly faced.
We’ve all heard the term reed friendly.
A well faced piece is usually pretty reed friendly.
 

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Yes...players often ask me what reed I suggest.
Generally I dont suggest any. I can tell them what I like but I also tell them people are using all sorts of brands and cuts...even some I personally dislike completely...but they sound good on them.

Reed choice is really personal.
 

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This is true in my experience. I have found that my Rigotti reeds do not play well for me on 3-4 tenor mouthpieces I have with shorter facing curves of 48. They are stiff as a board and edgy. I find Vandoren Java green box reeds work really well on those mouthpieces.......
I would consider 47-48 a medium facing length on tenor. Selmers, Brilharts and Beechlers are typically shorter at 44-ish.
 

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Legere formerly sold a mouthpiece (only clarinet and alto sax versions) that Legere explicitly claimed was designed to work well with Legere synthetic reeds. I believe that only a single facing was offered. In any case, the mp was discontinued after just a year or two.
 

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Legere formerly sold a mouthpiece (only clarinet and alto sax versions) that Legere explicitly claimed was designed to work well with Legere synthetic reeds. I believe that only a single facing was offered. In any case, the mp was discontinued after just a year or two.
I think it was a Kuckmeir (spelling?) Playeasy. They’ve recently been bought out by Silverstein.
 

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I match reed to mouthpiece because a reed is rather inexpensive to experiment. It also depends on the type of sound one is looking for and the skill level. For a amateur like me, my goal is to find the brand and strength of a reed that allows me to play comfortably for all notes and produce the sound I like. For instance, Rico reeds never works for me. So I have some sitting in the drawer for a long time. I have been finding a reed match with a Berg metal, then I just remember those Rico reeds and give it a try. To my surprise, a Rico Jazz Select match pretty well to the Berg. But this is highly personal and subjective. I also like the tone of a Rigotti classic 2, but it seems it is a bit too hard for me. The Rico Jazz Select gives the best balance.


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Not just facing length, but also how much a person covers/ where their lower lip contacts and how much pressure one exerts (how much vibration we kill before the reed has a chance to speak. No one ever makes those considerations when wondering why certain cuts/ labels work better for others.
 

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So, by your reasoning if I have a Vandoren mouthpiece, but I only have Rico reeds, that mouthpiece won't play well. "On the box of the mouthpiece are recommendations for reed cut and strength." Of course they're going to recommend you use their brand of reed, it's called marketing. Maybe the Vandoren reeds work well with your MP just because they're good reeds. I use Javas, they're consistent, play well, and I get more playable reeds per box, and I don't even have a Vandoren mouthpiece.
That has been exactly my experience, yes. I play an AL3, I've never been able to play any Rico reeds on it, with the exception of Hemkes (which as far as I know are based on the Blue Box). I have some Selmer mouthpieces and I have noticed that they are a lot less reed fussy, but it will never match the tone of the Vandoren.
 

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Not just facing length, but also how much a person covers/ where their lower lip contacts and how much pressure one exerts (how much vibration we kill before the reed has a chance to speak. No one ever makes those considerations when wondering why certain cuts/ labels work better for others.
Right point!
 

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Covering the reed with the bottom lip is not always bad. It is a way to get a mellow dark sound on an otherwise bright set-up. Useful for a ballad or blending while having power available on demand. I know some pro players who do this quite well.
 

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I have found that not only do different reeds sound different on different mouthpiece but a different ligature also can make a big difference in your sound. When trying different combinations don't forget to add the ligature into the equation. I have a 63' Mark VI alto and I use depending on the type of gig a Gregory model A 4A-16 mouthpiece with AW 2 1/2 Jazz reed and a Silverstein ligature or my Morgan 5 mouthpiece with a 2 1/2 Java Red reed and a vintage gold plated Harrison ligature.
 
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