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Discussion Starter #1
For the Rico Royal users here, just be aware that if you go by sellers' descriptions and pictures on ebay or amazon, showing the pre-D'Addario box with the name 'Rico Royal', you most likely will receive the D'Addario Royal. These are not the same as Rico Royal. It just happened to me and I made them give me a refund. I have no reason to believe the seller will 'get it' and change their listing because of the common belief that nothing changed but the name and the product is the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Rico Royal is dead and gone so now we have to find something else.
 

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For the Rico Royal users here, just be aware that if you go by sellers' descriptions and pictures on ebay or amazon, showing the pre-D'Addario box with the name 'Rico Royal', you most likely will receive the D'Addario Royal. These are not the same as Rico Royal. It just happened to me and I made them give me a refund. I have no reason to believe the seller will 'get it' and change their listing because of the common belief that nothing changed but the name and the product is the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Rico Royal is dead and gone so now we have to find something else.
The difficult thing is to remember that D'Addario actually bought Rico back in 2004. 2006 is when they started their new fully automated process. They didn't change everything over to the D'Addario branding until last year. So there's a pretty large chunk of time even with some of the "last gen" styled box.

Anyway, I guess there has been debate on here many times in the past on if there was an actual change between pre-D'addario and post. So I won't get in to that. However, I do agree with you, unless there is an actual photo of the actual box you are getting, don't order someone listing a stock photo and expect to get an old style box.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's interesting about the dates - I didn't have any idea what was going on at Rico. I did start noticing changes in the RSJ reeds which is what I was using then, and contacted Rico about it. They sent me a box of reeds which was nice but you never knew which design you were going to get when you bought them. I only recently changed to Rico Royal and of course that's about when they changed over with the new box and name. This is very hard to explain and keep brief, but the changes in both instances were the same; a longer, flatter vamp cut resulting in longer run-out of the side thickness. The 'old' cut in both brands had a shorter, more rounded vamp cut with shorter returns of the thick sides. I think anyone could see that these two designs are going to play very differently. The difference is the flat/long vamp gives a stuffier, deader sound. In effect, the reed plays like a full size harder even though the grading process reflects a size lower. Just sitting here writing this makes me want to try to make some old ones out of some new ones since I have a pretty good idea of the differences. I'll see if I can get a meaningful picture of both types although I wasn't very successful at that back when I was talking to Rico.

ETA: the longer, flatter vamp cut means the reed stays thicker longer as the cut approaches the tip. That's the bottom line and I think anyone can see how that works. The shorter cut has more of a curve as it leaves the bark, cutting into the thickness more, resulting in less thickness in the reed in the area approaching the bark. At the same time, the shorter cut is also more rounded in cross-section, leaving more of a spine in the vamp instead of being just flatter. This raised area fades out as the reed flattens toward the tip. When it comes to reed performance, we are talking major differences in these two designs.
 

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When it comes to reed performance, we are talking major differences in these two designs.
I am guessing they did some kind of testing with it. I know I was part of a test group for I think it was the Reserve clarinet reeds. I remember them sending a number of reeds to me and having to fill out a bunch of surveys on what I thought.

I've thought about trying to track down all the different types of Rico reeds pre-D'addario and modern and do a comparison, but it isn't always the easiest thing to do if you don't have some back stock of the old stuff.

I guess if there was enough people interested in it, maybe we could at least manage to grab one each of enough vintages for a good comparison.
 

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That's interesting about the dates - I didn't have any idea what was going on at Rico. I did start noticing changes in the RSJ reeds which is what I was using then, and contacted Rico about it. They sent me a box of reeds which was nice but you never knew which design you were going to get when you bought them. I only recently changed to Rico Royal and of course that's about when they changed over with the new box and name. This is very hard to explain and keep brief, but the changes in both instances were the same; a longer, flatter vamp cut resulting in longer run-out of the side thickness. The 'old' cut in both brands had a shorter, more rounded vamp cut with shorter returns of the thick sides. I think anyone could see that these two designs are going to play very differently. The difference is the flat/long vamp gives a stuffier, deader sound. In effect, the reed plays like a full size harder even though the grading process reflects a size lower. Just sitting here writing this makes me want to try to make some old ones out of some new ones since I have a pretty good idea of the differences. I'll see if I can get a meaningful picture of both types although I wasn't very successful at that back when I was talking to Rico.

ETA: the longer, flatter vamp cut means the reed stays thicker longer as the cut approaches the tip. That's the bottom line and I think anyone can see how that works. The shorter cut has more of a curve as it leaves the bark, cutting into the thickness more, resulting in less thickness in the reed in the area approaching the bark. At the same time, the shorter cut is also more rounded in cross-section, leaving more of a spine in the vamp instead of being just flatter. This raised area fades out as the reed flattens toward the tip. When it comes to reed performance, we are talking major differences in these two designs.
I just picked up a box of 3's for a 7* metal piece that I have There's just no flexibility in the new cut-same problem with the new Selects. This translates to a harder reed but I don't think moving down in strength's gonna solve the problem. They changed the cut. They are like Hemke's to me. And the Selects are like Orange box. Maybe they are just making those 2 types of reed: (filed = Hemke's & Royals/ unfiled = Orange box & Selects) and then just change the packaging...
 

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I recently compared some Select Jazz reeds to Vandoren and Rigotti and Orange Box. The Selects were closest to the Rigottis in cut. I did this comparison by eye, not by playing as other things besides cut influence how they play.

The Vandorens (Java and Blue Box) had a thicker spine than the Rigotti and Select reeds, which in turn had a thicker spine than the Orange Box. So I don't agree with your characterization of the cut of the Select Jazz reeds - they are noticeably different than the Orange Box.

By "thicker spine" I mean that the center section of the vamp, which is tapered down to the tip, goes farther toward the tip. The Orange Box reeds (# 3 1/2) are almost flat halfway down the vamp, whereas the Vandoren (# 3) spine goes almost 3/4 of the way to the tip. Also the spine on the Vandorens is thicker at the back of the vamp; on the Orange Box reeds, the spine dips down very quickly at the back of the vamp.

Other issues I have noticed with Orange Box in particular is that the heel of the reed varies in thickness quite a bit, for the same strength reed. Both the Select Jazz and Rigotti reeds are much more consistent. Vandorens are consistent too, I just don't like them :)

FWIW, I find Rigotti to be the best overall, but Select Jazz (unfiled) are a close second. I would probably need a 4 1/2 in Orange Box these days, and then sand it down some. The 3 1/2 size is just too thin - they play OK then give out very quickly. As a reference point, I used to play (and still have about 1/2 box) of the old "brown box" Ricos - I played a 3 1/2, and they are on inspection very similar to a Rigotti Gold/Jazz reed of today.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have heard that very same suggestion from someone who sells a lot of reeds and it really stinks. I think all they're doing on the 'Royals' is possibly hand-selecting the best Ricos and giving them the French file cut.
 

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I recently compared some Select Jazz reeds to Vandoren and Rigotti and Orange Box. The Selects were closest to the Rigottis in cut. I did this comparison by eye, not by playing as other things besides cut influence how they play.

The Vandorens (Java and Blue Box) had a thicker spine than the Rigotti and Select reeds, which in turn had a thicker spine than the Orange Box. So I don't agree with your characterization of the cut of the Select Jazz reeds - they are noticeably different than the Orange Box.

By "thicker spine" I mean that the center section of the vamp, which is tapered down to the tip, goes farther toward the tip. The Orange Box reeds (# 3 1/2) are almost flat halfway down the vamp, whereas the Vandoren (# 3) spine goes almost 3/4 of the way to the tip. Also the spine on the Vandorens is thicker at the back of the vamp; on the Orange Box reeds, the spine dips down very quickly at the back of the vamp.

Other issues I have noticed with Orange Box in particular is that the heel of the reed varies in thickness quite a bit, for the same strength reed. Both the Select Jazz and Rigotti reeds are much more consistent. Vandorens are consistent too, I just don't like them :)

FWIW, I find Rigotti to be the best overall, but Select Jazz (unfiled) are a close second. I would probably need a 4 1/2 in Orange Box these days, and then sand it down some. The 3 1/2 size is just too thin - they play OK then give out very quickly. As a reference point, I used to play (and still have about 1/2 box) of the old "brown box" Ricos - I played a 3 1/2, and they are on inspection very similar to a Rigotti Gold/Jazz reed of today.
Looks can be deceiving on reeds. I'm sure you are aware of that. How do they play? Which reeds, of the ones you mentioned, are actual players and which ones are a waste of time & money??? I'm assuming it's Rigotti based on your last paragraph.

I have heard that very same suggestion from someone who sells a lot of reeds and it really stinks. I think all they're doing on the 'Royals' is possibly hand-selecting the best Ricos and giving them the French file cut.
RIP Jazz Selects & Rico Royals. Hoping the Vandoren ZZ 3's will work w/ my metal Link.
I use Java 3's my HR Link.
 

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I have heard that very same suggestion from someone who sells a lot of reeds and it really stinks. I think all they're doing on the 'Royals' is possibly hand-selecting the best Ricos and giving them the French file cut.
Not too surprised. D'addario when they took over seemed very much about streamlining the process and automation. I wouldn't put it past them that Rico/Royal/Selects are all basically the same. The best reeds going to Selects, and then filtering down.
 

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Funny, I have really hated the selects in the D Addario era but the rico royals I picked up as an alternative I liked. Go figure. I even tried some plasticovers and I like those, albeit as a way of coping with the change of seasons here in the Midwest...
 

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Still using Royals.
i get around the stiffness issue by bending them over a jar when wet.
It breaks them in fast.
 

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Looks can be deceiving on reeds. I'm sure you are aware of that. How do they play? Which reeds, of the ones you mentioned, are actual players and which ones are a waste of time & money??? I'm assuming it's Rigotti based on your last paragraph.
I have no trouble with any of the reeds listed, but you are correct, I play Rigotti on tenor. They have the best tonal balance, ** FOR ME **. I also like the D'Addario Select Jazz reeds, but slightly less.

I have never liked (in over 50 years of playing saxophone) the Vandoren reeds. Wouldn't play anything else on clarinet, but they suck, again ** FOR ME ** on saxophone. This is true today, especially the ZZ. Java are slightly better. Blue box, I forgot about them in the 70's (though they were purple then...) and I still forget about them now. Bought one box a few years ago, will likely never buy one again. I know a lot of people like them, but man, for me they just don't do it.

In a pinch I could play the Orange Box (better than Vandorens!) but I need a full strength heavier - like a 4 or 4 1/2. I play 3 light or 2 strong Rigottis.

I think you can tell a lot about a reed by looking at its profile, from the side - the Orange Box reeds in particular are quite flat for the last 1/2 of the vamp, and they play thinner and weaker than either the Selects or the Rigottis. I agree that looking through it at a light is a waste of time though, I've had reeds that looked like there was no heart and sang like Caruso, and reeds that looked absolutely perfect and were deader than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
'looking through it at a light is a waste of time though'

I had forgotten about doing that - used to do it at the music store picking out reeds. I agree, except for finding some kind of split or break, it didn't seem to make any difference. For some superstitious reason I still pick the reeds with lots of figuring in the bark first. :)
 
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