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Discussion Starter #1
Just to try and somewhat cheaper, I bought box of Rico Orange Box (#3 Tenor)
- plus I had seen where Andy Snitzer (plays with Billy Joel) uses them.
After about 4-5 minutes of playing they seem to go real weak - like they went softer -
maybe from a 3 to 21/2 or even a 2.
Oh well - i guess I can trim the tip and maybe use up the box - they did play easy right out of the
box - maybe too easy !!
Anybody else notice this with the Orange Box - what has happened to Rico ?? Is it because they are owned by
DAddario now ?? Does any reed company have any QC anymore ??
I guess I'll continue my search for a good Synthetic or try Java Green Box again
 

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I play 3 1/2 red ones on tenor and haven't noticed anything like that yet, it's an old batch though.
My newer D'Addarios on alto seem to be okay as well, also 3 1/2 strength. Maybe it's the 3 strength only?

Another idea:
Could also be that it depends on the mouthpiece. The breakpoint of my pieces here is quite far towards the shank (meaning the facing is quite long), so a bigger part of the reed vibrates. Rico reds are thinner at the tip region than other cuts, so they speak easily all the time but if the breakpoint of the mpc is nearer towards the tip you will get the feel that you just described as they get more flexible when they're wet. Try harder strength or mouthpieces with longer facings, it should help.
(That's just my theory, but maybe it makes some sense to your case.)

BTW to me it doesn't feel that the cut has changed since Rico became part of D'Addario. At least for the red reeds.
 

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I've played the cheapest Ricos, currently "orange box", for at least 40 years, so several hundred reeds. Some are great, some are duds, just like any natural cane reed. Not sure there's much you can do quality control wise at the factory besides test the strength and cut, which I've found to be pretty consistent. No way to really tell how the reed will play or how long it will last until you actually play it.
 

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The profile of the reed is much different than the old Rico V reeds - the spine is very weak, and the tip is quite long. This makes them play easy, but they give up quickly! As noted, they work best on pieces with long facings.

I suggest going up by 2 strength levels from your "normal" reed - so if you use, say, a D'Addario Select Jazz 3 medium, you should try a 4 or 4 1/2 in the Orange box (not 3 1/2).
 

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I use the orange box Ricos on baritone with some satisfaction. Buying 3 at a time isn't that large of an investment and I still prefer them over the last batch of synthetics that I tried a few years ago. It's interesting to niote that they share little in common with the V reeds that I played when I started playing and used for decades.
 

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After about 4-5 minutes of playing they seem to go real weak - like they went softer -
maybe from a 3 to 21/2 or even a 2.
Oh well - i guess I can trim the tip and maybe use up the box - they did play easy right out of the
box - maybe too easy !!
Without getting into a debate of break-in regimens (or how they're "a waste of time"), I would first ask how you are playing these reeds in the first 4 - 5 minutes.
I go easy on all cane reeds at first. I put maybe 2 - 3 minutes total on a reed the first day, at about a p or pp level. Second day is maybe 4 minutes, and I go about a week before I go past 10 minutes, all at a soft dynamic.
Now, if your routine is different, and other reeds do fine, I would look into the strength. It may just be too soft a strength. Try 3 1/2 before you decide the "orange box" is necessarily substandard.
The other main thing I do with new reeds is soak them in warm distilled water for a good long time (20 or 30 minutes), and then maybe again the next day... or two... before even playing them. And after that, before I play them, I put them on a piece of glass after soaking and rub the vamp very well with my thumb, toward the tip. I then take the rounded handle of my reed knife (or a Sharpie marker) and rub them toward the tip, in the area of the side rails and the thickest part of the vamp only. Then I rub the butt end of the reed on the glass for a minute or so. This all seals off the tubules (I think that's what they're called) in the structure of the cane, to keep moisture from so quickly saturating them, which weakens them.
I have boxes of many eras of Rico reeds, for alto, tenor, and baritone. While the newer ones may not be as consistent as the older ones, and may be of a somewhat different cut, they all can be made to play, which is what I've found with any make/cut of reed. While Rigotti may make a reed that is super-consistent, and when you find "your" strength, you are able to make each one play with little rework, I've found that Rico reeds will work as consistently, albeit with a bit of work in most cases.
I have played the following Rico reeds from various eras extensively, and still have boxes of each that I play:
D'Addario, Farmingdale, NY (recent) (Orange): These have big "RICO" letters on the table, with a number down at the butt end 90 degrees opposed to the RICO name.
Sun Valley, CA (Boosey & Hawkes) (Orange): The "RICO" lettering is slanted and preceded by a G clef. The number is presented as "V-#".
Copyright 1982... N. Hollywood (Orange): The "RICO" lettering is slanted and preceded by a G clef. The number is presented as "V-#".
"Brown Box" which is cardboard with wood-grain <applique>. The "RICO" lettering is slanted and preceded by a G clef, and written on a music staff. The number is presented as "V-#".
I have yet to play any true "Brown Box" (wood box) Rico reeds, but I will say that:
(a) Bad cane in 1941 will still be bad in 2019, for any brand of reed.
(b) Even good cane will go bad over time, if not stored in a really well-controlled environment (Temperature & relative humidity).
I have a lot of "Orange Box" Rico reeds (some with the "Roy J. Maier" or "Selmer" brand names on the box), mainly for alto and baritone, that, with some possible rework, and if of the correct strength or slightly higher to begin with, play extremely well for a fairly extended period of time.
I encourage everyone to use reeds that are on the hard side... at first, or even beyond that... and then to learn to gauge/play/measure/troubleshoot them, and to rework them to make them play. Starting soft and trimming is usually not a recipe for success.
I have rarely found a reed of any make/vintage that won't play well with a bit of break-in and rework.
 

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I also have been playing them over 30 years. Don't play them to long in the beginning like Schlockrod sais.
I have tried all other brands but never found something that worked better than the Orange Rico's on an old Link for me.
Some last for a month or more.......sometimes it's hard to find any reed that works...
 

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One should, however, always endeavor to determine the cut of reed most suited to their style of playing/chops/mouthpiece. It could be that this is just not the right cut.
 

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I like the pricing on these reeds. If they didn't work, it wouldn't matter, but they do. Everything is so freaking expensive these days. These come in a big box of what... 50 reeds? I've picked them up for a pretty good price on ebay.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I also have been playing them over 30 years. Don't play them to long in the beginning like Schlockrod sais.
I have tried all other brands but never found something that worked better than the Orange Rico's on an old Link for me.
Some last for a month or more.......sometimes it's hard to find any reed that works...
Hard to find any reed that works !! indeed
I agree Sivari - that's why I'm moving toward Synthetic (Legere or Fibracell) I think R and D at Legere keeps working on improving their
reeds and they are working pretty good for me - better than previous years

Thank you for all your input Schlockrod - I have been basically lazy I guess with reeds all these years - I normally put new reed in my mouth and then
on the mpc !! ha ha Sometimes I have put new reeds in Distilled water for 2-3 minutes
If I keep using cane, I will try a harder Reed as you suggest (3 1/2 etc) and maybe get a Reed Geek
BTW I usually use a D7 Dukoff as I play in Loud bands
Appreciate the help
 

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Hard to find any reed that works !! indeed
I agree Sivari - that's why I'm moving toward Synthetic (Legere or Fibracell) I think R and D at Legere keeps working on improving their
reeds and they are working pretty good for me - better than previous years

Thank you for all your input Schlockrod - I have been basically lazy I guess with reeds all these years - I normally put new reed in my mouth and then
on the mpc !! ha ha Sometimes I have put new reeds in Distilled water for 2-3 minutes
If I keep using cane, I will try a harder Reed as you suggest (3 1/2 etc) and maybe get a Reed Geek
BTW I usually use a D7 Dukoff as I play in Loud bands
Appreciate the help
Cool man... any time!
Yeah I sure understand lazy and I just want to play, so more and more I am using Legere, for practice, anyway. Put it on... play. For hours and hours.
I put aside my laziness for a while (at the expense of some practice time) and put a lot of sweat equity into learning how to adjust reeds... a lot of hours of study and "lab work" in my basement. I got a huge box of rush that I harvested in northern Michigan and a good knife and other tools.
So now, despite my inherent laziness, I can get most cane reeds to play well after break-in with 10 - 20 minutes of work, spread over a few days.
I still like a good cane reed when performing... any time, actually. But the Legeres are a great trade-off when I just need to make up for lost time and practice a lot.
 
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