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Plasticover or Cane?

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Hello reader,

I've heard great things about Rico Plasticover reeds but I haven't had the chance to purchase a box. If anyone has any experience with Plasticovers, feel free to state your opinion on them and if possible, can you describe the way they differ from standard cane reeds? Thanks for your time.

-Nick
 

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Well, Plasticover is a cane reed which technically makes the question moot, but we all get it. I use them on everything except tenor because I play mostly tenor and the others would dry out between uses. Many pros have used them, like Pete Christlieb for one, and Plas Johnson for another. Like all other reeds now, the older ones were better, but if you buy enough of them you'll find some players. Lately they have run hard for the designation. You can modify them but then you'll lose the protective coating, so that's out. In other words, I use them where I would use a synthetic reed because they offer most of the cane reed nuances.
 

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Nick: Please do a search. This has been asked and answered several times. I find plasticovers do be dull and unresponsive AND that plastic coating flakes off, at least it did for me. I do not want to eat Rico's plastic. DAVE
 

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I've used them for years for rock and pop. They are basically a ricoroyal reed that is coated. I double on guitar and they don't dry out like an uncoated reed. I find they brighten up a fair bit when you push them. I like them on gigs where the tenor has to cut through the mix for solos. They "break in" for me after a couple short practice sessions and I just put the ones I like in my reed case. The strength seems fairly inconsistent but, most of the time I find them "softer" than say a vandoren of the same labeled strength. Lots of people are concerned about the flakes of the black coating that sometimes can fall off but I figure I taken in more toxins in other ways. Do the search here for sure.
 

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Try them, that's the way to know. Average strength. As mentioned above, they break in, so if they're a little hard to play out of the box, that's probably about right.
 

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I like them on bari sax...they last longer. They do run soft for the numbering...I play RJS 3M or 3H on bari, but need a 4 Plasticover. It's a little hard for the first half hour, but then settles in.
 

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Plasticover's are great reeds...I don't play on them anymore, when I did they played wonderful!...they are not dull and unresponsive. Pete Christlieb, one of the best tenor sounds ever, plays on them, so does James Carter, so does Plas Johnson...and the plastic coating doesn't flake off...writing this, I need to remember to buy a couple of boxes next time I'm at the music store.
 

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HeyJoe: Oh, okay . . . I must have been mistaken when the plasticovers I played were dull and unresponsive and the coating flaked off of all of the ones I had, and the guy I played with last Tuesday had a plasticover on his Link and the black plastic covering was half gone. You were SO certain about it that I must have been wrong. DAVE
 

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I prefer cane, but one of the best players I know, Gary Lee Herbig plays and loves them. He sounds phenominal. Think of the original "Roseanne" theme music.
 

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I agree with that, Gary Herbig has got the best tone I've ever heard. He seems to be very underrated in the sense he hardly gets a mention on this forum. He does a lot of popular music, but he's also an excellent jazz player. As well as the "Roseanne" theme I liked his work on "Romancing The Stone" theme tune, and the solo in the song "Time Of My Life" from the film Dirty Dancing.
 

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It isn't about how someone else sounds on certain equipment (plasticover reeds, in this case), it is about how YOU (I?) sound on on that equipment. The guy I played with last Tuesday sounded great with his half-covered (meaning it was missing a significant part of the plastic covering) plasticover reed. But I've played his set-up before (at that time, a soprano Link STM 8* with a #3 cane reed) and didn't care for it all, yet he sounded superb with that set-up.

If you like plasticovers, by all means play them. I'm just reporting MY experiences with them. I am not wrong and neither are you (all who posted about plasticovers). It is ALL opinion. DAVE
 

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Man it kills me the way you musicians speak of jazz like Gary Herbig is a jazz er. He does do what he does great. But "smooth-jazz" is more funk than jazz. If you want to hear what jazz is, listen to a guy named Dexter Gordon, and another guy named John Coltrane and another comes to mind. I think his name is Sonny Rollins. Down the road a bit, I bet imbeciles will be using the term Jazz for some punk doing RAP Ha ha ha!. Plasticovers are the best. I hadn't played in 3 years, but they couldn't have change that much. Don't waste your money on the others. Plasticovers will play better and last longer than any other. You guys playing fiber whatever plastic to me sound like a beginner sound. In other words you sound like crap. Ha ha ha. I can do Yakety Sax, Tenor Madness, All The Things You Are, Darn That Dream, Body and Soul, Easy Living like they should be played. The reed is versatile. I didn't like a Runyon metal with the reed inside 9 nor the 11, However for me the 10 is the ultimate. Honk, Growl, Loud, Soft and most importantly to me sub-tone with the best on Body and Soul, Darn That dream etc. Oh and I'll get some laughs out of this and much criticism, but I tried everything and I buy nothing but the 3 1/2 Plasticovers and this is easiest mouthpiece and reed combo I tried. I had a Guardala, Claude Lakey, Ponzol and the gorgeous gold Berg Larsen kinda of looking piece. A couple of the high end ones didn't play worth a crap and one of them squeaked every 3rd note for me. This is my stubborn honest opinion. Oh and I play a Buescher "400" I bought new in 1964 because I couldn't replace my 1958 Selmer Mark VI that was stolen out of the club I was gigging in, in Gretna Louisiana. I quit in 1975 I started back in 2000 and stopped 2 or so years ago when my 36 year old Son got cancer, suffered 6 months and died in 2014. The mouthpiece everyone thought I sounded good on back in the day I couldn't play it for nothing. Figure that out. It was a hard rubber Meyer 6. I hadn't figured it out yet. Oh when you read this please pretend this is Don Rickles talking. I'm not that bad I'm just trying to stress my opinion.
 

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Perhaps I blow dark, so the Plasticovers give me a nice, edgier, brighter, and livelier sound. Projects nicely too, filling the venue without the benefit of a microphone. Great for gigs in my experience.
 

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I tried plasticovers, and they responded well but I don't use them for a couple of reasons:

1) I put them in my mouth like a cane reed (out of habit) while assembling the sax, and noticed they made my tongue numb

2) The plastic eventually flakes off so I'm probably ingesting a lot of the stuff that makes my tongue numb

3) They will not tell anybody what the plastic cover is made of, so I figure it could be eventually harmful to my health.

So after the first box, I went back to uncoated cane.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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It isn't about how someone else sounds on certain equipment (plasticover reeds, in this case), it is about how YOU (I?) sound on on that equipment. The guy I played with last Tuesday sounded great with his half-covered (meaning it was missing a significant part of the plastic covering) plasticover reed. But I've played his set-up before (at that time, a soprano Link STM 8* with a #3 cane reed) and didn't care for it all, yet he sounded superb with that set-up.

If you like plasticovers, by all means play them. I'm just reporting MY experiences with them. I am not wrong and neither are you (all who posted about plasticovers). It is ALL opinion. DAVE
Great post. It's not about what works for others....it's what works for you and you alone. I used to play size 4 Plasticovers on tenor but when the supply of that size dried up for a while here in Australia, I ended up finding something else (Fibracell). I've tried Plasticovers a couple of times since but I no longer like them as much as I once did. Every so often I'll go and try other reeds just to make sure I'm still using the best thing for me but for the past 10 years, I always come back to Fibracell. I've had others play my setup and they (and I) didn't like the result....but it works for my physiology and style.

I think Plasticover reeds are fantastic for those whom they suit. If they don't suit you, keep looking until you find what DOES work for you.

P.S. The flaky coating does tend to get a bit annoying when it comes off during gigs and you're spitting it out between songs :)
 

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The do flake and Rico knows and has responded about that, vaguely, which has made some of us mad.

The synthetic cover that might have been ingested by us, does who care for that, has made us stay away of very good sounding reeds. I used them for years, until the flaking problem got worse.

Yes they are a little softer than other reeds of the same number.

The no answer by Rico, even started to make some of us to take legal action. They never told us what was happening there and in what way may the synthetic material be harmful for us. Some reeds have kind of a warm, or even hot sensation on the tongue.... So I do not think they are completely safe.
 

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I tried plasticovers, and they responded well but I don't use them for a couple of reasons:

1) I put them in my mouth like a cane reed (out of habit) while assembling the sax, and noticed they made my tongue numb

2) The plastic eventually flakes off so I'm probably ingesting a lot of the stuff that makes my tongue numb

3) They will not tell anybody what the plastic cover is made of, so I figure it could be eventually harmful to my health.

So after the first box, I went back to uncoated cane.

Insights and incites by Notes

+ 1.
 

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Man it kills me the way you musicians speak of jazz like Gary Herbig is a jazz er. He does do what he does great. But "smooth-jazz" is more funk than jazz. Down the road a bit, I bet imbeciles will be using the term Jazz for some punk doing RAP Ha ha ha!..
Individuals don't get to decide what's Jazz and what isn't; the MUSIC decides.

If you want to hear what jazz is, listen to a guy named Dexter Gordon, and another guy named John Coltrane and another comes to mind. I think his name is Sonny Rollins.
I'm so glad you introduced these people; it would be so easy to miss them on a saxophone forum. ;)

As for the OP: as pointed out earlier, many reeds need working on, to either improve them or even attempt to make them playable, and this isn't really an option with coated reeds.
A dog in the box is going to stay a dog for life.
 

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I have used and like them on tenor, but like any reed they don't necessarily work great on all mouthpieces. I find that they are better on low-baffle and larger chamber ones and not good on high-baffle smaller chamber pieces. So for example they are really great on my Brilhart Streamline but not on any Metalite I have or on my Berg Scoopbill SS. That is just my experience however, aND YMMV and very likely will, depending on factors pertaining to your chops. There is no such thing as chops in a box or one reed fits all, so try 'em all has been my motto because what others experience is no guarantee of what I will.
 
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