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Discussion Starter #1
Hey. For some reason my current reeds will never work for me. i play La Voz MS on a Berg Larsen sms 105/2. Every time I buy a new box they all are too stuffy and hard for me, no one plays good. I have to play it for like 3weeks until it finally plays ok and then it dies like 2 days after. I dont think I have the wrong reed strength cus like I said after a while it plays ok but in like 3 weeks it plays horrible. Is this the same for you and if not do you have a solution? Thanks.
 

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Try a different brand? I like the Vandoren ZZ's. I've tried a few others and they seem to work pretty consistently. I usually play one for a half hour or so then put it aside. Next day it seems to work fine. There is some break-in required but not three weeks. I also tried the Rico D'Addarios a while back and found them pretty equivalent to the ZZ's.
 

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I adjust every new reed and every one of them will play great IF I do my part and don’t screw ‘em up. I use just a sharp pocket knife whike the reed is wet and on the mouthpiece. I scrape the vamps a bit, rinse and re-test until I like it. There is much already posted about this. And, there are varying methods and opinions, but that’s how I deal with reeds. DAVE
 

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Tofflann, do you work on your reeds? Try balancing the reed side to side with some 400 grit sandpaper when you first get it out of the box. If you like the sound of the reeds you are using, there is no need to switch! It sounds to me as if you are breaking in the reed by brute force, which is why it dies quickly.

Try lightly sanding the reed on one or both sides of the vamp so that it plays evenly with the side-to-side blowing test. You may have to sand both sides to get it to the strength you want (although MS LaVoz are pretty soft already....). By doing this you get the reed to play correctly without breaking it down by brute force, and it will last longer.

Also, be sure to "seal" the reed by running your thumb along the vamp from the base to the tip, with a pretty good pressure. This forces the tubes in the reed to close where they are exposed on the surface of the vamp, and will help the reed last longer. Lastly, make sure the back of the reed is flat, and you can also seal the back by "sanding" (really polishing) the back on some printer paper on a flat surface.

Hope this helps.
 

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Dear Tofflann,
I hear and feel your pain. There's some great advice in the posts above.
Here's another idea. Go synthetic. I've been playing sax on and off for 40 years. I switched to Legere 4 years ago and my life changed. I used to Play a Berg Larsen sms 105/2 and an M 95/2 with La Voz reeds. Always a battle. First, your Berg may not be a good one. Most aren't. Next, even good Bergs can be very reed picky. Third. there are as many bad La Voz reeds as any any other brand (maybe more!). You can easily get a box of 10 dogs. You are probably playing reeds that are way too hard - so even when they finally behave for you for that short while, they are already half-baked from all the playing you've already done on them. I will never play a Berg/La Voz combo again in my life. It's too short. There may be plenty of cats who are fine with this setup. You and I aren't.

Go buy a Legere Signature 2 1/4. If it's too hard or too soft they will exchange it. Move in 1/4 steps. Even if it takes a few trial strengths, it's worth it. They do take a good 15 minutes of break-in when they're new. I've moved mainly to Legere Classics. They have slightly thicker tips and behave better for me - BUT start with 1 3/4. The Classic strength numbers do not match the Signatures. Also - I find the Classics do need several hours of break-in before you get a reasonable idea of how they play.

When i think back to my Berg/La Voz days, I can't believe I ever kept playing. Yes, I finally got a much better mouthpiece - Theo Wanne Durga #3 - and I recommend them. They're worth the money, especially if you play Rock and Soul music. There may be other less expensive high baffle pieces out there, but be careful if you're not a very experienced player/mouthpiece tester. When I was on the road full time with bands, I used to used Lavoz Hard or Medium Hard. If I ran out of reeds in a small town, I'be lucky to find Rico 3, 31/2 or La Voz Medium or Medium Soft. These reeds would last about 1 set or less. I will never go back to cane. Even when I have a bad day with Legere synthetics - and start thinking about cane - I put sharp knitting needles through my eyeballs and sober up. Please try Legere. They will work on Bergs, too.

Best of luck.

Sonny
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dear Tofflann,
I hear and feel your pain. There's some great advice in the posts above.
Here's another idea. Go synthetic. I've been playing sax on and off for 40 years. I switched to Legere 4 years ago and my life changed. I used to Play a Berg Larsen sms 105/2 and an M 95/2 with La Voz reeds. Always a battle. First, your Berg may not be a good one. Most aren't. Next, even good Bergs can be very reed picky. Third. there are as many bad La Voz reeds as any any other brand (maybe more!). You can easily get a box of 10 dogs. You are probably playing reeds that are way too hard - so even when they finally behave for you for that short while, they are already half-baked from all the playing you've already done on them. I will never play a Berg/La Voz combo again in my life. It's too short. There may be plenty of cats who are fine with this setup. You and I aren't.

Go buy a Legere Signature 2 1/4. If it's too hard or too soft they will exchange it. Move in 1/4 steps. Even if it takes a few trial strengths, it's worth it. They do take a good 15 minutes of break-in when they're new. I've moved mainly to Legere Classics. They have slightly thicker tips and behave better for me - BUT start with 1 3/4. The Classic strength numbers do not match the Signatures. Also - I find the Classics do need several hours of break-in before you get a reasonable idea of how they play.

When i think back to my Berg/La Voz days, I can't believe I ever kept playing. Yes, I finally got a much better mouthpiece - Theo Wanne Durga #3 - and I recommend them. They're worth the money, especially if you play Rock and Soul music. There may be other less expensive high baffle pieces out there, but be careful if you're not a very experienced player/mouthpiece tester. When I was on the road full time with bands, I used to used Lavoz Hard or Medium Hard. If I ran out of reeds in a small town, I'be lucky to find Rico 3, 31/2 or La Voz Medium or Medium Soft. These reeds would last about 1 set or less. I will never go back to cane. Even when I have a bad day with Legere synthetics - and start thinking about cane - I put sharp knitting needles through my eyeballs and sober up. Please try Legere. They will work on Bergs, too.

Best of luck.

Sonny
Thanks for the advice! As a student I don’t have a lot of money I can throw away on mouthpieces and reeds but I’ll take your advise and try a legere reed. I don’t know if you can answer this but how do I know if I have a “bad” Berg? The Berg is the only mouthpiece that I have played more than lets say one year except my Yamaha 4c I stayed on and when I tried it for the first time I really loved it seems doe that I’m kinda getting away from it now. What do think about Dave Guardala as a mouthpiece? King Mb studio?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tofflann, do you work on your reeds? Try balancing the reed side to side with some 400 grit sandpaper when you first get it out of the box. If you like the sound of the reeds you are using, there is no need to switch! It sounds to me as if you are breaking in the reed by brute force, which is why it dies quickly.

Try lightly sanding the reed on one or both sides of the vamp so that it plays evenly with the side-to-side blowing test. You may have to sand both sides to get it to the strength you want (although MS LaVoz are pretty soft already....). By doing this you get the reed to play correctly without breaking it down by brute force, and it will last longer.

Also, be sure to "seal" the reed by running your thumb along the vamp from the base to the tip, with a pretty good pressure. This forces the tubes in the reed to close where they are exposed on the surface of the vamp, and will help the reed last longer. Lastly, make sure the back of the reed is flat, and you can also seal the back by "sanding" (really polishing) the back on some printer paper on a flat surface.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for the tips! Have been thinking about investing in a reed geek may be worth the money
 

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Dear Tofflann,
I hear and feel your pain. There's some great advice in the posts above.
Here's another idea. Go synthetic. I've been playing sax on and off for 40 years. I switched to Legere 4 years ago and my life changed. I used to Play a Berg Larsen sms 105/2 and an M 95/2 with La Voz reeds. Always a battle. First, your Berg may not be a good one. Most aren't. Next, even good Bergs can be very reed picky. Third. there are as many bad La Voz reeds as any any other brand (maybe more!). You can easily get a box of 10 dogs. You are probably playing reeds that are way too hard - so even when they finally behave for you for that short while, they are already half-baked from all the playing you've already done on them. I will never play a Berg/La Voz combo again in my life. It's too short. There may be plenty of cats who are fine with this setup. You and I aren't.

Go buy a Legere Signature 2 1/4. If it's too hard or too soft they will exchange it. Move in 1/4 steps. Even if it takes a few trial strengths, it's worth it. They do take a good 15 minutes of break-in when they're new. I've moved mainly to Legere Classics. They have slightly thicker tips and behave better for me - BUT start with 1 3/4. The Classic strength numbers do not match the Signatures. Also - I find the Classics do need several hours of break-in before you get a reasonable idea of how they play.

When i think back to my Berg/La Voz days, I can't believe I ever kept playing. Yes, I finally got a much better mouthpiece - Theo Wanne Durga #3 - and I recommend them. They're worth the money, especially if you play Rock and Soul music. There may be other less expensive high baffle pieces out there, but be careful if you're not a very experienced player/mouthpiece tester. When I was on the road full time with bands, I used to used Lavoz Hard or Medium Hard. If I ran out of reeds in a small town, I'be lucky to find Rico 3, 31/2 or La Voz Medium or Medium Soft. These reeds would last about 1 set or less. I will never go back to cane. Even when I have a bad day with Legere synthetics - and start thinking about cane - I put sharp knitting needles through my eyeballs and sober up. Please try Legere. They will work on Bergs, too.

Best of luck.

Sonny
Great post..real cane drove me nuts too, oh I had some good ONES...but realized 45 yrs later I realistically never had the same 2 reeds EVER..each was a new trip.

A few yrs back I switched and found some consistency with the synths. It took awhile to acclimate and find my sound again, also some exchanges and trials with different brands.

..on tenor I use a Legere Sig 2.0-2.25 on a Black Widow 8*. life is simple.
 

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Thanks for the advice! As a student I don’t have a lot of money I can throw away on mouthpieces and reeds but I’ll take your advise and try a legere reed. I don’t know if you can answer this but how do I know if I have a “bad” Berg?
Does it say "Berg Larsen" on it? Chances are that it is less than correct. How to find out? Send it to a mouthpiece tech and have them measure and evaluate the facing.

How long have you been playing?

Your original post sounds to me like you are playing too hard a reed. If you play it for 3 weeks before it is "broken in" and then fails... Well, 3 weeks may be the life of the reed until it starts to fail, and the brief period that you are "enjoying" occurs as it fades to mush. Better to go down in strength, break in the reed over the first day or two, then enjoy it for the next few weeks until it expires. And don't work so hard at getting your sound.

If you like the Berg sound, I suggest you either find a Berg that is known to be good (ie, it has made that trip to a tech to be measured, and corrected if necessary), or get a Berg-like piece from a different manufacturer.

G'luck in your quest.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the advice! As a student I don’t have a lot of money I can throw away on mouthpieces and reeds but I’ll take your advise and try a legere reed. I don’t know if you can answer this but how do I know if I have a “bad” Berg?
Does it say "Berg Larsen" on it? Chances are that it is less than correct. How to find out? Send it to a mouthpiece tech and have them measure and evaluate the facing.

How long have you been playing?

Your original post sounds to me like you are playing too hard a reed. If you play it for 3 weeks before it is "broken in" and then fails... Well, 3 weeks may be the life of the reed until it starts to fail, and the brief period that you are "enjoying" occurs as it fades to mush. Better to go down in strength, break in the reed over the first day or two, then enjoy it for the next few weeks until it expires. And don't work so hard at getting your sound.

If you like the Berg sound, I suggest you either find a Berg that is known to be good (ie, it has made that trip to a tech to be measured, and corrected if necessary), or get a Berg-like piece from a different manufacturer.

G'luck in your quest.
I don’t really understand the hate against Berg Larsen? Are they really that bad? When I get a reed that works man it’s killin in some situations. I have many people that tried it friends and teachers and they say it’s great and some even want to buy it. I have come up with a theory doe that may seem kinda weird but that the Berg is great when you first test it and then when start to work with it more you realise it doesn’t have what you need. I feel all the time that my gear is holding me back (know it sound bad) but man, I have a leaking selmer sax with a broken neck and a Berg. What mouthpiece do you mean when you say a Berg like mouthpiece? Dave Guardala?
 

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I don’t really understand the hate against Berg Larsen? Are they really that bad?
Where did I say that I hate anything?

Stainless steel Berg Larsens have earned a reputation for having poor facings. Play a few dozen, and talk to techs that work with them, and you may come to the same conclusion.

When I get a reed that works man it’s killin in some situations. I have many people that tried it friends and teachers and they say it’s great and some even want to buy it. I have come up with a theory doe that may seem kinda weird but that the Berg is great when you first test it and then when start to work with it more you realise it doesn’t have what you need. I feel all the time that my gear is holding me back (know it sound bad) but man, I have a leaking selmer sax with a broken neck and a Berg. What mouthpiece do you mean when you say a Berg like mouthpiece? Dave Guardala?
I am thinking of the Ted Klum "London" series, or the recently released "Impulse" by Phil-Tone.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...rrived-Introductory-Sale!&highlight=phil-tone

There are also pieces with performance in a similar class, such as the Black Widow by 10mfan, or the high baffled pieces by Ron Coelho (RPC Mouthpieces). I am not a fan of Guardala-style mouthpieces, but there certainly exist others who are.

Leaking horn, broken neck, Berg with too-hard reeds... Yikes.

I wish you well.
 

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Don't worry about it. There's no such thing as perfect mouthpieces and sometimes odd little twists actually make one great. Whatever, go to the music store and get a 3-pack of regular Rico 2.5. Most would consider these a little soft for a 105 but my guess is you don't have a very strong embouchure. Doesn't matter, you need what you need. Gato Barbieri is said to have used something like a .095 with a 1.5 reed and he made beautiful music. Anyway, if you try synthetic, go with the Fibracell which is the closest to a cane reed I have tried. They run soft, but a 2.5 would probably work for you. You see, the best-kept secret in the sax world is, unless you tell, nobody knows what set-up you're playing, and as long as you are getting a good sound, volume doesn't matter anymore because of sound reinforcement (PA systems). So while some may sneer at your mouthpiece and reed, it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks about it.
 

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I dont hate bergs but there are some terribly executed bergs.
Second, it may say .105 but it could easily be a .115 or more

Many bergs I have played and worked on had an infinite facing length....slap on a glass gauge and the facing feeler goes all the way to the heel. The tip sizes are all over the map.

Im with G...if you take 3 weeks to break in a reed its either too hard, the mpc too open...both or also the possibility that the piece is so wonky that it takes that long for the reed to conform.

So maybe you dont need a perfect mouthpiece but Ive seen some bergs that I would hesitate to call mouthpieces.
With out measuring it one cant say but there is a very high probability that the tip size does not match what is written on it.

Ole Doc Tenney used to say the only number you can trust on a berg is the patent number!

Most players who have a terrible time with reeds have mouthpiece problems, not reed problems. Sure some are better than others but sorry...reeds get a bad rap and take the blame for players using too big of a setup or just one that is crappy.

I never throw away a reed, I work on them very little...but they are played on a proper mouthpiece.
 

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Hi Tofflann,

It's bitch when you're a student and there ain't a lot of dough. Sax is a high maintenance, temperamental instrument that rarely seems to play the same way twice. Guardala's are typically excellent and often extraordinary (always very expensive) - but it must be a Dave Guardala original in great shape, and in a model that works for you. There are lots of copies and some licensed versions that don't have the same alchemy and they don't get the same rave reviews. I sold my much loved Guardala original because the Theo Wanna Durga had easier altissimo and an even bigger sound - I would have kept it but couldn't afford to keep both at the time.

Back to your Berg - I gotta agree with Dr. G and Phil - you can play a dozen in a row and they all suck. In the 70's, I found the Hard Rubber ones were a little more consistent. but really not much. And I preferred the metal. If you really love your Berg when it's killin' then the fix is probably in your reeds - which we've already discussed. Also - yes - if there is legit mouthpiece tech in your area, as Dr. G suggested then let him or her see if they can measure and correct yours. Warning: All good techs charge a lot more for stainless steel Bergs. If they don't, they haven't worked on enough of them. They can be a pain!!

Choosing a better Berg or other mouthpiece is beyond the scope of what I can write in a forum post. There is so much great info if you search this board. Tofflann, you have to understand how different every player's experience is. For instance I have never, ever played an Otto Link that I liked - let alone didn't frickin' hate. Yet, Brecker didn't do too badly on his?? Dexter, Coltrane and everyone else? I need a high baffle, high precision piece.

Try a couple of Legeres, be patient - and for God's sake fix the neck and leaks. They are probably the source of a lot of your frustration - and perhaps some of your perceived reed problems.

Best,

SS
 

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I didnt catch the horn problem....yes, that can add to the problem greatly. Its a drag that it is expensive but if your gear is in poor order there can be many problems. You dont have to have the best of the best but a busted neck and a leaky horn...well, its always gonna play like crap. Its like thinking its ok to drive in the snow with bald tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi Tofflann,

It's bitch when you're a student and there ain't a lot of dough. Sax is a high maintenance, temperamental instrument that rarely seems to play the same way twice. Guardala's are typically excellent and often extraordinary (always very expensive) - but it must be a Dave Guardala original in great shape, and in a model that works for you. There are lots of copies and some licensed versions that don't have the same alchemy and they don't get the same rave reviews. I sold my much loved Guardala original because the Theo Wanna Durga had easier altissimo and an even bigger sound - I would have kept it but couldn't afford to keep both at the time.

Back to your Berg - I gotta agree with Dr. G - you can play a dozen in a row and they all suck. In the 70's, I found the Hard Rubber ones were a little more consistent. but really not much. And I preferred the metal. If you really love your Berg when it's killin' then the fix is probably in your reeds - which we've already discussed. Also - yes - if there is legit mouthpiece tech in your area, as Dr. G suggested then let him or her see if they can measure and correct yours. Warning: All good techs charge a lot more for stainless steel Bergs. If they don't, they haven't worked on enough of them. They can be a pain!!

Choosing a better Berg or other mouthpiece is beyond the scope of what I can write in a forum post. There is so much great info if you search this board. Tofflann, you have to understand how different every player's experience is. For instance I have never, ever played an Otto Link that I liked - let alone didn't frickin' hate. Yet, Brecker didn't do too badly on his?? Dexter, Coltrane and everyone else? I need a high baffle, high precision piece.

Try a couple of Legeres, be patient - and for God's sake fix the neck and leaks. They are probably the source of a lot of your frustration - and perceived reed problems.

Best,

SS
Thanks so much for your time and advice! Will see if someone can have a look at my Berg and in the future I may buy a new mouthpiece. Ottolinks have never work for me either haha.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I didnt catch the horn problem....yes, that can add to the problem greatly. Its a drag that it is expensive but if your gear is in poor order there can be many problems. You dont have to have the best of the best but a busted neck and a leaky horn...well, its always gonna play like crap. Its like thinking its ok to drive in the snow with bald tires.
Yeah it sucks but unfortunately that is what I got to work with. I was planning on a new neck but now when this all with berg came up I’m not really sure what to invest in.
 

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If you re broke enough to mention it here, I would advise against buying some fancy tool to work on reeds. True, there are folks who love their gadgets, but I do the same thing (basically) with a sharp pocket knife. If you don't have a pocket knife . . . DAVE
 

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Yeah it sucks but unfortunately that is what I got to work with. I was planning on a new neck but now when this all with berg came up I’m not really sure what to invest in.
How "busted" is it?

Necks can be fixed. Some techs that specialize in neck work include Aaron Barnard (BarnardRepair.com) and Randy Jones (TenorMadness.com).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you re broke enough to mention it here, I would advise against buying some fancy tool to work on reeds. True, there are folks who love their gadgets, but I do the same thing (basically) with a sharp pocket knife. If you don't have a pocket knife . . . DAVE
Well ok.
 
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