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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd list this post in order to get some feedback from you guys on the pros and cons of synthetic vs cane reeds!

Right off the top of my head:

Cons of Cane reeds:

1. High risk of unwanted squeaks
2. Soaking required
3. Very inconsistent from reed to reed or box to box
4. May require sanding or clipping
5. Sudden death or rapid aging
6. Easily affected by humidity and temperature
7. Frequent spending
8. Less user friendly
9. Pleasing tone during the first ten mintues when wet but later...AAARK!
10. Played only by cane reed players who are set in their ways and refuse to make a change or try at least one experiment with a synthetic reed. One player stated give me cane or give me death...:)


Pros of synthetic reeds

1. They can sound like a wet cane reed for extended periods
2. Synthetic reeds are lick, stick, and play
3. No rapid aging or sudden death;graceful aging
4. Unoticeable sound and tone difference compared to cane reeds
5. No sanding or clipping required except in some players' cases
6. No soaking or worry about reed drying out
7. More user friendly
8. Unless one's a pro player making big bucks, goes easier on our financial pockets
9. Synthetic doesn't rot, age or have "wooden like" spots that usually spells a bad reed
10. Factory manufactured and configured with precision tools or electronic equipment technologically designed to meet one's desires for their ideal sound.

Let me know if I miss anything....
 

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I don't think you quite understand a pro and con list. You listed the pros of one and the cons of another, a bit lopsided! Normally, one would provide pros and cons of each. Anyways, right off the top of my head, there is definitely a noticeable sound difference between synthetic reeds and cane reeds. I've tried synthetic reeds, and I dislike them. That's all the con I need.
 

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I have been using synthetic reeds for awhile and I don't see myself going back to cane reeds. I don't see a big difference between synthetic and cane (in terms of sound) and I think the synthetic feels better than cane.
 

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Anyways, right off the top of my head, there is definitely a noticeable sound difference between synthetic reeds and cane reeds. I've tried synthetic reeds, and I dislike them. That's all the con I need.
Hey! You're putting function over form. That doesn't fit the agenda of this thread!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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there is definitely a noticeable sound difference between synthetic reeds and cane reeds. I've tried synthetic reeds, and I dislike them. That's all the con I need.
There's a danger in discussing "synthetic reeds" as if they are a brand. One brand can be good, another not so good. So saying a "con" is they don't sound so good is not so meaningfull unless you have tried every single brand.

I surprised many people here with my direct comparison between a Legere Signature and a Rico. Before I gave the answer most people thought the Legere was the cane reed, because it sounded better.

See: http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-synthetic-reeds.html

I have hated synthetic reeds all my life until last year when finally there was a synthetic that I can use professionally on very demanding sessions.
 

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It's just what you prefer. Remember those old Tareyton ads — I can picture a bunch of woodwind players with black eyes — "Us Cane Players Would Rather Fight Than Switch!" I don't really care what people play as long as it sounds good. I'm very glad that we have a choice, though.
 

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In my experience, one (Hahn) synthetic reed lasts longer, sounds better and costs less than a box of (Rico/Vandoren) cane reeds. I still have unopened boxes of cane reeds but they`ll only be used in an emergency - or sold when cane becomes extinct.
 

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I haven't searched in synthetics as far as I have in cane, but the trend is that the synthetic is just too "buzzy" for me. The cane reed, however old it is, usually sounds fuller on my setup than a synthetic. The synthetics ARE free-blowing, durable, and otherwise convenient for things like marching band, but IMO for other, more delicate purposes, I prefer cane.
 

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Pete is absolutely correct. I only had used synthetic reeds for rock/blues gigs, where a less refined sound is OK.

That is, until I tried the legere signature. If you compare the other legeres, you'll see that the signature's structure is different.

My only complaint about synthetics now is the fact that they don't absorb any moisture, and so you must be more careful to keep the 'spit' out of your sound on extended periods of playing.
 

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Fibracell is too buzzy for me too.

In my limited experience with cane and synthetic, cane sounds better but synthetic (Legere studio) is easier to play. The right cane reed on the right mouthpiece with a good embouchure isn't that difficult though. I still get a squeak here and there but as I understand it, so do some pros.
 

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The original reason I started messing with synthetics was because I live on the windward side of the island, which is wet and quite humid most of the time, and I gig on the Kona (leeward) side of the island which, other than the fact that it's by the ocean, is quite dry. After almost three years of fighting reeds, the synthetics were a godsend. With the advent of legere signatures, they are fast becoming the preference.
 

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The original reason I started messing with synthetics was because I live on the windward side of the island, which is wet and quite humid most of the time, and I gig on the Kona (leeward) side of the island which, other than the fact that it's by the ocean, is quite dry. After almost three years of fighting reeds, the synthetics were a godsend. With the advent of legere signatures, they are fast becoming the preference.
I have had some nights here on my island where I have changed reeds 3 times in a gig. Humidity will get to them thats for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Fibracell is too buzzy for me too.

In my limited experience with cane and synthetic, cane sounds better but synthetic (Legere studio) is easier to play. The right cane reed on the right mouthpiece with a good embouchure isn't that difficult though. I still get a squeak here and there but as I understand it, so do some pros.
differencetone, check youtube for live performances of sax players ...multiple squeaks!
 

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I suppose if you truly don't care about good tone ,synthetics-of any brand-should work just fine for you. Of course each one's interpretation of "good tone" is arguable.
 

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I think you did a pretty good job on the list except: no sudden death of synthetic. that is definitely not true in my case. I had a Fibracel die suddenly during a clarinet solo. Also squeaks. It's possible to squeak on any reed.

All that being said, Pete is correct that the brands are very different. I successfully switched over to Fibracel on all the saxes and clarinet. But I did not like the Legere, Hahn and Forestone reeds. A good (real) cane reed is still the best and always will be, but for 99% of my work, it's too much trouble.
 

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I recently purchased a 3.5 Fibracell for Alto and Tenor and was totally disappointed. I can't take the buzz so that's 30 bucks down the drain :0(. I then purchased a 2.75 Legere signature for my Alto which I find very easy to play not buzzy but is still a little too bright. I like to play Vandoren 3.5 blues on alto and 3's on Tenor. I agree that it is a challenge of working reeds to get them into their optimum playing condition but, "It is what it is." I play on Alto Van Optimum AL3, Meyer 5M, Tone Edge 6* - Tenor TL3,V16 T7,STM6* & a Vintage Soloist D. Once I can find a synthetic that plays like a well balanced Van traditional 3.5 and plays well with the aforementioned mouthpiece I will switch but until then I will just have to continue working the cane.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I think you did a pretty good job on the list except: no sudden death of synthetic. that is definitely not true in my case. I had a Fibracel die suddenly during a clarinet solo. Also squeaks. It's possible to squeak on any reed.

All that being said, Pete is correct that the brands are very different. I successfully switched over to Fibracel on all the saxes and clarinet. But I did not like the Legere, Hahn and Forestone reeds. A good (real) cane reed is still the best and always will be, but for 99% of my work, it's too much trouble.
Cane, are you saying you use synthetic or cane for 99% of your work? What is too much trouble
 

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Just as saxophonists will pick out the brand and model of sax they prefer they will eventually (or occasionally right away) find the mouthpiece and reed, cane or synthetic they prefer to play on. There can be lists of pros and cons on just about anything and either or neither could apply in a decision making process.
 
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