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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've nnever really messed around with reeds beyond buying a box, licking them and slapping them on and playing; if the reeds naff it goes in the bin, if not it goes back in the box and gets used til it dies - I rarely have more than a couple on the go at once.

I'm currently playing Gonzalez 627s on both alto and tenor in a 2.5 and mostly they're great, but every once in a while one comes up just feeling a little too soft. A random review of these reeds indicated the same thing, but they sorted the problen by clipping a mm off.

Is this something that's worth trying, and if so what are the good reed clippers and how are they better than the cheaper ones? And do you have to have a cutter specifically for each size reed (alto and tenor) or is that a marketing ploy?

I can pick up a Cordier cutter for tenor for £42 or a Pisoni cutter for £28 & have change for a couple of overpriced IPAs....
 

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In my experience, years ago the first reed trimmer that I had was a cheaper one (not sure of the name) and it did not make a very nice cut. The Cordier brand works much better in that it makes a nice cut. There is a difference in the sizes of the alto & tenor reed cutters.

In regards to whether or not it is worth the cost, I can tell you that sometimes the reed ends up playing well after the cut and other times it does not play well. It all depends on how much you trim off of the reed. If you remove too much from the tip, then you need to make other adjustments to the reed.
 

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what are the good reed clippers and how are they better than the cheaper ones? And do you have to have a cutter specifically for each size reed (alto and tenor) or is that a marketing ploy?

I can pick up a Cordier cutter for tenor for £42 or a Pisoni cutter for £28 & have change for a couple of overpriced IPAs....
I have used Cordier L'Uniq trimmers for over 30 years now. The same ones, they have not worn out. I can't say they will last a lifetime but they certainly will last a heck of a long time. You need a different trimmer for each size. Personally I wouldn't try anything else.

I also suggest you get a small Swiss Army knife (the smallest size, about 2" long) for the opposite process., i.e., scraping.
 

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And sometimes the clipped reed doesn't have the same shape as the end of the mouthpiece. And yes, you need the size-specific cutter for each sax. Since your reeds sometimes are too soft, the cutter is the answer. You just have to find the one that matches the curve of your mouthpiece tip. And remember to take only a sliver off at a time. Without the cutter, guys used to take a coin and place the reed on it so just a sliver hung over the edge, then they would burn it off with a cigarette lighter or match. Another trick is to extend the reed just the slightest bit 'over' the mouthpiece tip which in effect makes it harder. The reverse is also true but setting a hard reed 'under' the tip also makes it less vibrant.
You might also consider just saving the ones that start out a little soft in case for some reason you want some softer reeds some day, like if you change mouthpieces.
Another angle is you have a different problem than most players who find that the unplayable reeds are the harder/stuffier ones so they are looking for ways to adjust them to be playable which is a lot more involved than just clipping a little off the tip.
Maybe if you get to the point that half your reeds are too soft, you will have to consider moving to a slightly stiffer reed.
 

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My first reed trimmer (for clarinet) was a Cordier. I bought it in 1962. I still have it and it works fine. My tenor and alto trimmers were bought about 10 years later. I still have them too :)

I agree with 1saxman about maybe going up 1/2 strength. Then of course you will probably need to work on some of the reeds, but that's not a bad thing. IMHO all sax (woodwind?) players should learn to adjust reeds. It's not hard, and it means, eventually, that you play a much higher percentage of the reeds you buy. Especially today with the major manufacturers making such consistent product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the tips. So it sounds that ultimately, assuming the mouthpiece curve matches, the Cordier is worth the extra cash.

I'll give a whirl of a box of 3s first just to see if they work out (shame Gonzalez don't do the quarter sizes in the 627s); the have a look at getting a cutter, probably just for tenor first which is where I get more of the issue with reeds that are too soft.
 

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I use them on alto, tenor and soprano...if anyone needs one for alto, I have two for sale....
 

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Shaving reeds is not hard, and does a lot for many reeds. There are some good guides in books and on the web, so going a little up in hardness and then shaving down can get you a richer bottom end, easier altissimo, better tone playing soft - many adjustments that can improve the sound of a reed. I now shave most reeds I use, and only once in a while shave them into oblivion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Problem I'm having is finding a supply of gonzalez 627s in a 3. Seem to be out of stock everywhere I look.

So in the meantime, ordering a cutter and going to try some Marcas in a 3 as well, they should be a little harder than the 2.5 gonzalez.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I picked up a cordier for my tenor and went to on an old box of the gonzalez 2.5s I had down for chucking; 3 of the 5 are now really playable again; of the other two one was split and the other warped beyond repair.

So the cutter has already effectively paid for a quarter of itself given the price of a box.

I did also pick up some Marca American in a 3 to try, and a Legere signature in a 2.75. I'd never played a Legere before and had all but written off synthetic reeds after trying Baris before. The Legere is lovely, and really close in feel to the gonzalez reeds, I think.
 

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Yes, Ed Palanker (long time bass clarinetist with the Baltimore Symphony) has some good tips here.

I use my Cordier clippers as essential tools on all of my sax and clarinet reeds when needed.

Reed adjustment is an involved subject, but, essentially, the most important point is that it's not about making the tip thicker with a clipper. It's about moving the tip of the reed closer to the heart of the reed, while keeping the tip the same thickness. This can be accomplished by using a well sharpened reed knife, Reed rush, sandpaper, or in my case the ATG from Ridenour to thin the tip slightly after the clip.

Mastering this method, along with learning basic balancing methods, will give you vastly more control over the performance of your reeds. For me, it's all about side to side balance and blowing resistance.

AB
 

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Does anyone use the Marca reed cutter? - is it as good as the old Cordier L'Uniq reed cutters?
 

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I had two cordiers which where clipping the cut of the reed asymmetric. I have a cheaper one which is better.
Anyone have any experience with the expensive vandoren clippers?
I know this is a five year old response, but I have to comment here that you can't just slide the reed into the trimmer and push the lever; you have to carefully align it side to side. I generally flip the clipper with reed over and look at the bottom side to make sure the same amount of reed is visible on either side of the clipper's "tongue". It takes a bit of finagling to get it properly lined up side to side and just the right amount to be pared off the end, and evenly at the tip. THEN press the lever.

Just like everything else with reeds, it requires a bit of patience and attention to detail. If you can't muster enough of these to clip a reed evenly you might want to take up the vuvuzela.
 

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I know this is a five year old response, but I have to comment here that you can't just slide the reed into the trimmer and push the lever; you have to carefully align it side to side. I generally flip the clipper with reed over and look at the bottom side to make sure the same amount of reed is visible on either side of the clipper's "tongue". It takes a bit of finagling to get it properly lined up side to side and just the right amount to be pared off the end, and evenly at the tip. THEN press the lever.

Just like everything else with reeds, it requires a bit of patience and attention to detail. If you can't muster enough of these to clip a reed evenly you might want to take up the vuvuzela.
Thanks for your quick reply!
I use reedclippers for 40 years and just wanted to know about these vandorens.
 
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