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Recently watched a video with a comparison of various reeds. I was surprised at how much the various reeds affected the tone. This got me thinking as to whether there might be reeds more suitable to certain mouthpieces and horns. For example I play a Conn 10m with a 6* NY STM Otto Link. It's a fairly open and spread sound, maybe leaning towards a more dark sound. I could compliment the horn and mouthpiece I got going with a reed that is free blowing and expressive or I could try and add or subtract certain attributes of the sound using a different reeds, find a balance of push the sound in a different direction, etc. Of course we're talking subtleties, however a different reed may very well make the difference between really liking the sound of a horn or feeling it is missing something or having an undesirable aspect to the tone. Additionally it also occurred to me that some reeds may be more appropriate for small gigs where the ability to express at lower volume is desirable with a kind of a cap on how free blowing.

Curious what are other people's thoughts on reed/mouthpiece/horn selection, particularly on vintage horns. Does the reed help you get a sound closer to what you want to sound like (more like Getz or more like Ben Webster, etc.) or does it change little for you?
 

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Sure, some reeds work better with certain mouthpieces and some mouthpieces work better with certain horns to give certain results. But it also depends on your embouchure and ear and desired sound. So the whole thing (ear, mouth, reed, mouthpiece, horn) is a system. Because significant parts of that system (your ear and mouth) are personal, it is hard to make generalizations.

I have found that I like some reeds better than others, often how they blow/feel more than anything else. I tend to like the Vandoren Java reeds, and not the Vandoren V16 and ZZ reeds. I had one mouthpiece that played better with Rico Jazz Select reeds than Javas. I'm not sure you can really do anything other than try some different reeds to see what works for you. I know some folks on here really like Rigottis, but I haven't tried them. I used some Hemkes when I had an overly bright horn I was trying to darken down, and they did help a bit with that.
 

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Of all then equipment that influences the sound (reed, ligature, mouthpiece, neck, pads, horn), the horn has the least effect. I can sound like me on just about any horn. All I change to sound like Getz or Webster is how I play. I don't want to carry around a hundred mouthpiece/reed combinations when all I need to change is me. So I say find some combination of mouthpiece/reed that's easy to play, then listen to your idols, then practice to sound like one artist versus another. It's really easy to chase equipment to achieve a certain sound. It's hard to practice to achieve a certain sound. But in the end, practice is the only way.
 

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Recently watched a video with a comparison of various reeds. I was surprised at how much the various reeds affected the tone. This got me thinking as to whether there might be reeds more suitable to certain mouthpieces and horns. For example I play a Conn 10m with a 6* NY STM Otto Link. It's a fairly open and spread sound, maybe leaning towards a more dark sound. I could compliment the horn and mouthpiece I got going with a reed that is free blowing and expressive or I could try and add or subtract certain attributes of the sound using a different reeds, find a balance of push the sound in a different direction, etc. Of course we're talking subtleties, however a different reed may very well make the difference between really liking the sound of a horn or feeling it is missing something or having an undesirable aspect to the tone. Additionally it also occurred to me that some reeds may be more appropriate for small gigs where the ability to express at lower volume is desirable with a kind of a cap on how free blowing.

Curious what are other people's thoughts on reed/mouthpiece/horn selection, particularly on vintage horns. Does the reed help you get a sound closer to what you want to sound like (more like Getz or more like Ben Webster, etc.) or does it change little for you?
Obviously, reeds can affect the way you play. They can make it easier, or make it harder to do what you're capable of. In that respect, I suppose they can drastically affect your sound. But what does a beginner, like me, know? I've experimented with tip openings and reed strengths using the same type of mouthpiece and same brand of reed, for a couple of years now, and I think my sound is improving, along with the ability to do more with my mouthpiece/reed combo.
 

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Of all then equipment that influences the sound (reed, ligature, mouthpiece, neck, pads, horn), the horn has the least effect. I can sound like me on just about any horn. All I change to sound like Getz or Webster is how I play. I don't want to carry around a hundred mouthpiece/reed combinations when all I need to change is me. So I say find some combination of mouthpiece/reed that's easy to play, then listen to your idols, then practice to sound like one artist versus another. It's really easy to chase equipment to achieve a certain sound. It's hard to practice to achieve a certain sound. But in the end, practice is the only way.
^^^^ What he said. Only I wish I could sound even 25% like Getz or Webster!

Find a brand that works pretty consistently with a mouthpiece that works for you, and then practice. Dont disappear down the GAS wormhole. Once you find something that performs half decent, chopping and changing reeds, ligatures and the like has a vanishingly small effect compared to practice.
 

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Everybody struggles with reeds. We all have that 'perfect reed' in our heads that we never find, but along the way, we find those that will suffice, along with plenty of others that won't. One thing that really screws up all your plans is a leaky sax. This makes any reed seem stuffier and more resistant. Get in the habit of having your horn looked over twice a year. For me, the difference in a leaky horn and a tight one is a whole step, meaning on a tight horn I can play a whole number harder, like from a 2 to a 3. But I'm picky about reeds even when they technically will play - I still search for the ones that have the strength I need while also playing easy for a lush, liquid sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I suppose experimentation is in order. I'm currently using a Legere Signature reed. It works well enough though, no fuss no muss, though I am not completely in love with the tone.
 

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I’ve found that Rigotti reeds work best for me with Links. They have more edge than anything else I’ve tried and they are consistent.
I use a 2 1/2 medium or 3 light with a 6 Link.
 

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I painstakingly match each horn with a neck, mouthpiece (or two), reed and ligature combination that meets my needs for tone, intonation and feel. This results in a lot of variables but when dialed in delivers a consistent response from horn to horn. I want to sound like me – but with subtle variations in the sound that the different setups produce. The main goal is to play what I'm hearing in my head and adapt the equipment to make it happen. On my five different tenors, no two share the same neck-mouthpiece-ligature-reed combo. Each one plays the way I want but with unique characteristics. On any given day for any gig or recording session one of them usually stands out. Seek and ye shall find.
 

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Reeds do have different characteristics - thick tip, thin tip, heart near the tip, heart far back, etc. For a Link STM, since the facing is on the medium-long to long side, a reed with the heart near the tip (ex., Vandoren blue-box) probably won't work as well as one with the heart farther back (ex. D'Addario Select Jazz). Thicker tips tend to have slightly more sluggish response to the tongue than those with thin tips (ex. Rico orange box). But it all comes down to personal preference, I don't mean to imply that a Vandoren blue box reed won't work on an STM, just that it won't be as flexible as a Rico orange box.

The 3 reeds that people seem to like the best on Links are (in no particular order) Rigotti Gold/Jazz, D'Addario Select Jazz, Vandoren Java Red. These all have the heart a little farther back than the so-called classical reeds (D'Addario Reserve, Vandoren blue box). The classical style reeds seem to work better on mouthpieces with a shorter facing (like Selmer or Vandoren classical mouthpieces).

Personally I don't care for Legere reeds, I tried a couple and just couldn't get next to them. I think if I were working in a pit, with a lot of doubles, I might change my mind, but otherwise I find them not to respond as well as cane. I currently prefer Rigotti 3 light or 3 medium with my 7* Tribute (not an exact Link clone, but a distillation of several great Links owned by Theo Wanne and Phil Engleman). Second place goes to Select Jazz, and 3rd place to Java Red. To me the Rigotti Gold is the closest to the Rico V-series reeds of yesteryear (the brown box reeds), which i played in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Maybe it's selective memory, but for me, those were the best reeds around, and if they were still available I'd use them. Orange box reeds are not the same....

It's definitely worth the effort to experiment with different reeds, buy a box or two of a particular type and play them for a few weeks, then move on to the next. You might find something out :)
 

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I painstakingly match each horn with a neck, mouthpiece (or two), reed and ligature combination that meets my needs for tone, intonation and feel...
I used to take that path, too. Then I finally recognized that each time I get a new horn, I would have to start over again.

My solution? Stick with one horn, dial in the mouthpiece/reed combination, and STOP buying gear.

Disclaimer: Yes, after 10 years or so with my #1 tenor, I did go through a bunch o' horns, and now have a #1.1 tenor, dialed in with its own mouthpiece setup.
 

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A few years ago I made a matrix chart showing how well reeds of various strengths worked with my mouthpieces.

So, for me: I discovered that Rico Royal 2.5 reeds worked well with almost anything. Vandoren blue box didn't work well with anything. Rico B5 mouthpiece didn't work at all with any reed of any strength - like blowing into an eraser.

A frustrating experience, since the only thing that sounds good is the original dented, chipped, and scratched No Name Mystery Mouthpiece I started with 12 years ago and Rico Royal 2.5's.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think I'm trying to tone down the rather brashness (bright?) buzz of the tone and go for a little more full rounded. May just be the Legere I'm using now. I know my embouchure can round the sound more. More often than not I hear an unpleasant brash tone in the midrange the more open the oral cavity.
 

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I think I'm trying to tone down the rather brashness (bright?) buzz of the tone and go for a little more full rounded. May just be the Legere I'm using now. I know my embouchure can round the sound more. More often than not I hear an unpleasant brash tone in the midrange the more open the oral cavity.
Try some other reeds and see what it sounds like - the 10M isn't overly brash/bright. And trying new reeds is cheaper than trying new mouthpieces...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Try some other reeds and see what it sounds like - the 10M isn't overly brash/bright. And trying new reeds is cheaper than trying new mouthpieces...
Yeah, I think one day soon I'm just gonna pick up a variety of reeds and see what happens. I've been using Legere for awhile.
 

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I wish people would quit referring to "Legere" as if there is only one type of Legere reed.
Classic/ Signature/ Studio all respond and sound VERY different.
 

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I wish people would quit referring to "Legere" as if there is only one type of Legere reed.
Classic/ Signature/ Studio all respond and sound VERY different.
I agree, as with Rovner - people talk about Rovners as if they were all made of fabric not metal.

It's a habit though people do generalise. As if "Chinese" or 'Vintage" are brands.
 

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I agree, as with Rovner - people talk about Rovners as if they were all made of fabric not metal.

It's a habit though people do generalise. As if "Chinese" or 'Vintage" are brands.
Unless, of course, it's the Chinese Vintage brand.
 

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Recently watched a video with a comparison of various reeds. I was surprised at how much the various reeds affected the tone. This got me thinking as to whether there might be reeds more suitable to certain mouthpieces and horns. For example I play a Conn 10m with a 6* NY STM Otto Link. It's a fairly open and spread sound, maybe leaning towards a more dark sound. I could compliment the horn and mouthpiece I got going with a reed that is free blowing and expressive or I could try and add or subtract certain attributes of the sound using a different reeds, find a balance of push the sound in a different direction, etc. Of course we're talking subtleties, however a different reed may very well make the difference between really liking the sound of a horn or feeling it is missing something or having an undesirable aspect to the tone. Additionally it also occurred to me that some reeds may be more appropriate for small gigs where the ability to express at lower volume is desirable with a kind of a cap on how free blowing.

Curious what are other people's thoughts on reed/mouthpiece/horn selection, particularly on vintage horns. Does the reed help you get a sound closer to what you want to sound like (more like Getz or more like Ben Webster, etc.) or does it change little for you?
Two things that don't matter to me are reeds and ligatures. That's not to say the quality of them doesn't matter, just the brand. As far as reeds go I feel that the sound I get from any brand is basically the same. Depending on the playability of the reed it may sound a little brighter or darker but that's just the individual reed and not the brand. My brand preference is based on which brand gives me more playable reeds per box. As far as ligatures go, they are just clamps that hold a reed on the mouthpiece. All that's really necessary is to hold the reed securely to the MP and facilitation in changing a reed relatively quickly is a plus. IMO a $15 basic 2 screw ligature is just as good as those high priced designer models.
 
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