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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,
Thanks for your help with getting a mouthpiece for classical music. I found a used Vandoren T20 that works great by means of the flexibility for getting a round and dark tone when I want it. I have a used Vandoren Optimum ligature for it that came with a pressure plate that has 4 dots in the corners. Apparently it has a bit more flexibility than the other two but I doubt my situation is related to the pressure plate.
Basically the Vandoren #3 Blue Box (that I was told by my instructor to stick to) is perfect for the mouthpiece. Most reeds from the box work with this mouthpiece which is great. Just with low Bb I found the same reed has less responsiveness with my Selmer D, which as a result the low Bb is sort of dull but suits well with the context and plays in that realm most of the time. T20 that I use has better response overall (seals better) and what happens is that with low Bb I get a honky response. If I soften my embouchure or breathing, the tone looses its consistency (sometimes doesn't play). At music shop, the sales person told me to get a softer reed but I'm thinking softer may mean more honk. Is it possible to find a reed that is softer for control but dark enough to not create honk in low Bb? Other notes are fine.
I know with Rico products it is a bit less rigid in nature so it perhaps makes the sound a bit more flexible but I'm hoping to find something that has a nice long lasting character like Vandoren reeds, be dark and warm sounding, and flexible for controlling the low Bb.
Thanks a lot,
Arya
 

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"Softer" doesn't necessarily mean a different brand or model of reed. Try a blue box 2.5 instead. The T20 is specifically made to accommodate this strength.

If you must have something different, try a Vandoren V21, or a Hemke. Both of these are a little easier to blow than blue box reeds, I think. Also, the Legere Signature is very good for low-note response.
 

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Have your instructor show you how to adjust your reeds to optimize their overall performance.
Or drop the strength by .5 in your current reeds.
Easier and less expensive than trying a multitude of suggested brands/cuts/strength reeds.
If your instructor doesn't know how to adjust reeds do a YouTube search. There are a few instructional videos that explain the process well.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
"Softer" doesn't necessarily mean a different brand or model of reed. Try a blue box 2.5 instead. The T20 is specifically made to accommodate this strength.

If you must have something different, try a Vandoren V21, or a Hemke. Both of these are a little easier to blow than blue box reeds, I think. Also, the Legere Signature is very good for low-note response.
Thank you. I'll try 2.5, and V21. I also have Hemke 2 1/2 from long time ago. I'll give them a shot. Also I'm going to try Gonzalez and Daddario Reserve since I have them already from a while ago. I think Daddario Reserve might be too soft (it is #2). I remember Gonzalez although harder, but had a good low response.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have your instructor show you how to adjust your reeds to optimize their overall performance.
Or drop the strength by .5 in your current reeds.
Easier and less expensive than trying a multitude of suggested brands/cuts/strength reeds.
If your instructor doesn't know how to adjust reeds do a YouTube search. There are a few instructional videos that explain the process well.

My classical instructor showed me a few months ago, and I already knew what he said and I applied that all the time in last 5 years since my first instructor 5 years ago told me the same. I also adjusted the ligature position to give easier vibration for low notes (slightly farther away from the tip) but it was not as effective since I gained easier low note blow but less consistent play. I think still my usual ligature position was the most consistent so I went back there. I'll try reducing the strength 0.5 see what happens. Thanks.
 

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I use Legere Signature Series on my T20. It's definitely worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for your ideas. I will definitely add Legere Signature to the list of the reeds I will try. I tried Hemke 2 1/2 and Gonzalez 2 1/4. Unfortunately lower thickness reeds make the sound a bit unstable overall. The pitch gets a bit compromised due to the fact that it flexes too much. I mean it is my instructor's preference (I guess based on the expectation of perfect pitch long notes, etc. in Classical setup) but the soft reeds are great for jazz! Anyway, I'm going to not reduce the strength to 2.5 and try to find under the same strength other options. I didn't mind the low note tone and control of Daddario Reserve but it is unstable because #2 is too soft. I may try one step higher strength to see if it gives me a happy medium. I will also try Vandoren V21. I had a 2 1/2 V12 and it was not perfect but pretty close; so either #3 V12 or as people commented #3 V21 which is probably closer to the sound of Vandoren Traditional so it could be a happy medium for me. And the fact that if the material is not as rigid as Traditional, it may add to the lushness and warmth while I can take advantage of having it more flexible for the low notes but still defined enough (strong fundamental frequency) for classical stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I forgot to mention that I used my #3 Vandoren Traditional reeds with a bit of help from the Reed Geek scrapper and followed the instruction of Larry Teal handbook and made them more user friendly. Overall evening out but mostly removing the #6 area in his reed diagram (in the shoulder area) and tiny bit in #5 area (the vamp). Still the quality of tone is a bit yappy and hunky in the low Bb but at least I don't have those moments that I try to go easy on embouchure and then it just doesn't play. I think I really like the tone of Daddario Reserve. Very good blend of definition and lushness. Perhaps less rigid than Vandoren Traditional (if that's what causes the yappy or hunky character). I came from years of playing Rico and it was hard to adjust to that overly defined tone but I'm hoping I find a happy medium that is satisfying my instructor for definition but has a bit warmer and slightly more spread and lush character.
 

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I tried Hemke 2 1/2 and Gonzalez 2 1/4. Unfortunately lower thickness reeds make the sound a bit unstable overall. The pitch gets a bit compromised due to the fact that it flexes too much. I mean it is my instructor's preference (I guess based on the expectation of perfect pitch long notes, etc. in Classical setup) but the soft reeds are great for jazz! Anyway, I'm going to not reduce the strength to 2.5 and try to find under the same strength other options.
Remember that "the same strength" does not mean "the same numerical strength rating." A Hemke 2.5 runs softer than a Vandoren blue box 2.5. You can't conclude that, in general, a 2.5 is too soft for you. Each model requires its own testing.
 

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Hang on a minute. Are you trying to find a reed/mouthpiece combination that gives you your idea of a classical sound, or your instructors idea of a classical sound?
If it's your instructors, you may 'physically' not be able to produce it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Hang on a minute. Are you trying to find a reed/mouthpiece combination that gives you your idea of a classical sound, or your instructors idea of a classical sound?
If it's your instructors, you may 'physically' not be able to produce it.
We worked together for quite a few sessions with my Selmer D and Vandoren Traditional #3, switching from Berg Larsen metal 100/1 for jazz stuff :) so he felt I'm close in the ball park of the core of the tone with not so much partials but still he made positive comments when I switched to Vandoren T20 because it was easier to perform and I had more expression but not buzzy still a lot of core (even more perhaps) and dark enough. Just the Low Bb with about half of the Vandoren #3 reeds sounded honky and a bit too bright when I pushed.
I found T21 #3 to be a good reed so far. I bought it last night and it sounds dark even if I push it yet centred, defined, and expressive. Also doesn't behave like a too soft reed so intonation is pretty solid. I will see him next week and let's see what he says. I try to be flexible for the tone he approves. I already morphed into that Classical sound concept which seems to be good enough for his vision. The only thing is that Royal Conservatory Repertoire books also have standard jazz material too. So he may think that Vandoren Traditional #3 sounded a bit brighter that Vandoren V21 #3 which perhaps could be a better fit to go from jazz to Classic in the same reed. I haven't quite got the jazz tone with T20 mpc and V21 reed yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just an update. I still keep going back and forth with V21 #3 and Traditional #3 both shaved down for a bit easier play for me. Traditional is more projected but as I mentioned earlier kind of yappy. V21 even shaved and sanded, still is keeping its core and dark character. Even making it buzz, it is a dark buzz. Definitely the top notes are fuller. Overall it has such an interesting core (almost clarinet-like) round tone to it that some people especially classical players fall in love with it, I think. It really reminds me of Hemke version of Rico but even darker yet have higher expression with the core of the tone. It is more embouchure friendly than Traditional. I can make it smokey jazz tone, dark, or projected. Perhaps #2.5 would be a better fit. In the reed chart, it is mentioned that V21 #3 is softer than Traditional #3. Probably they are referring to the stiffness not the performance. To my experience, the tone and resistance of the V21 is as if you are playing even higher than Traditional #3 strength. Since T20 is known to play soft reeds without getting thin, I'm hoping V21 #2.5 will be easier to play yet having a good balance of projection and tameness. Its warmer tone and character perhaps is something to build a relationship with, and grow with it by time, rather than for Traditional I found it is what it is a bit. I'm hoping less rigid nature of V21 (compared to Traditional) doesn't mean its lifespan is shorter than Traditional (if the pores are less dense therefore they are subject to be affected by moisture variations, etc.). I would love to have that combination of warmth, lushness, but long lasting reed.
 

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Rico Grand Concert Select.
D'Addario Reserve.

Marca Superieure.
Marca Excel.

AW Reeds "721".

It's plenty of classical reeds out there.
Buy some spare reed. And make you own tests...

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Sounds more like, being the Selmer facing longer, you need a stiffer reeds.

Longer facing + soft reeds = reeds bends to much near the beginning of the facing... so the vamp is a bit "clogged" (to vibrate) = the low register speaks less easy.

The trick is that by switching different type reeds (type of reeds... not same reed in different stregths) you can find reeds stiffer in the back of the vamp, but not stiffer elsewhere.
 

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Rico Grand Concert Select.
D'Addario Reserve.

Marca Superieure.
Marca Excel.

AW Reeds "721".

It's plenty of classical reeds out there.
Buy some spare reed. And make you own tests...

---------------------

Sounds more like, being the Selmer facing longer, you need a stiffer reeds.

Longer facing + soft reeds = reeds bends to much near the beginning of the facing... so the vamp is a bit "clogged" (to vibrate) = the low register speaks less easy.

The trick is that by switching different type reeds (type of reeds... not same reed in different stregths) you can find reeds stiffer in the back of the vamp, but not stiffer elsewhere.

+1 for the D'Addario (Rico) Reserve - similar to Vandoren Trads (Blue Box), but with greater consistency reed-to-reed and more useable reeds out of a box. My own experience, of course - YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the advice. I will work on Marca later. Not available in Canada, Calgary yet. How is Zonda or Gonzalez for classical? or Alexander classical? I ordered a box of Alexander Classical and it is taking the dealer a long time to get them. I hear good things about Zonda. Are they from Gonzalez reeds? I got quite a few samples of D'addario Reserve reeds. 2 1/2 too soft, 3 is ok most of the time, 3.0+ is sometimes great and some of them too stiff. Still hard for me to settle that they are the best reeds on that mouthpiece. Not enough vibrant and lively, and if thinner cut, they become too buzzy. Also I didn't find their character is very interesting. Almost bland character wise. I wish they had a 3- something between 2 1/5 and 3, or a 3S 3 but with a bit more material removed to make it more lively and flexible but not as much as 2 1/5.
 

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Unfortunately lower thickness reeds make the sound a bit unstable overall.
Wrong.

Lower thickness (i.e. strength) reeds mean the player has to work a bit harder on their embouchure and breath to stop the sound being unstable. But the effort is worth it in the long run.

I add the word strength instead of thickness, because mostly the measurement of reeds is in strength not thickness.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Wrong.

Lower thickness (i.e. strength) reeds mean the player has to work a bit harder on their embouchure and breath to stop the sound being unstable. But the effort is worth it in the long run.

I add the word strength instead of thickness, because mostly the measurement of reeds is in strength not thickness.
Hi Pete, long time since I got your tips. Thanks a lot :) Yeah I meant unstable for my current state of embouchure but also I found they are buzzy and more spread. The thicker (stronger) reed for me tends to have more centred tone and if I play in different volumes, they don't end up showing the buzz the whole time. Rather the stronger reed is only showing the buzz if I push the air through harder. Well, that's just me for time being and for that Vandoren T20 mouthpiece. A few months from now, things could be different. :) Also as I mentioned in the early part of this thread, I'm looking to get a very tailored tone by default to also cater the classical tone concept with the hints I got from my classical sax instructor. But also I'm looking for a reed that is suitable for both classical and standard jazz. Thanks again for your feedback. I'm looking forward to hear more from you :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi Pete, and other gurus out there. I found something that Tzadik mentioned about the longer facing and thinner reed bend too much so it chokes the reed. I used my Gonzalez RC reed that is shorter cut and it works better with that mouthpiece for the low notes. Any other reed out there that is a shorter cut. I tried Rigotti Gold, D'addario Reserve, Vandoren Traditional, Vandoren V21, ... ALL ARE LONG CUT. I was told that Rico Royal is a short cut as well but I'm trying to get a reed that the vamp near the shoulder is thicker that Rico Royal (standard spine, or whatever is called) since Rico Royal is purposefully made with thinner cut cane. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sorry I might have been misunderstood. It looks like the shorter cut (French cut) reeds are designed for shorter facing curve. Anyway since I have better luck with French cut reeds on T20 mouthpiece, I like to know which other reeds are French cut reeds. Thank you.
 
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