I switched from Vandoren to the Rico Reserves when they first came out a few years ago. I, again, switched from Vandoren to the Rico Reserve Classics for a month or so before switching back to Vandorens recently. I really liked the Rico reeds, but they seemed to soften way too quickly and would start chirping when I played on them. Perhaps I just haven't found the proper balance of reed size to my mouthpiece and the humidity levels where I play.
It's all a matter of personal preference and what works for you. There is no right answer. I know that I much prefer my sound on Ricos over Vandorens across all saxes and clarinets, jazz and classical. If you think you get a better tone out of Rico products then you already have your answer.
I can honestly say that I hate most of the reeds Rico produces. Before they released Select Jazz that would have been 100%. Now I prefer the RSJ over my former favorite Java. In the end it depends on the player as so many have said before.
I play on Rico on my Tenor and Vandoren when I play classical clarinet. When I play jazz clarinet I use a plastic reed (Bari). I use the plastic covered Rico on the Tenor. Vandoren tenor reeds don't cut it for me on the sax. Classical clarinet the Vandoren is superior. Great power in the uppers, rich deep sound in the throats. Can't play without both companies.
I tend to prefer Rico on sax, I have switched a few times between Rico Jazz Select and La Voz (purely to give myself variety in my tone!). I just find that Ricos seem to be more consistant, I have far less trouble with a bad reed than with Vandoren, and I find them better to play (more responsive etc.) However, when I'm playing clarinet I prefer Vandoren, I play Vandoren V16s and I find I can get the best tone out of these.
I suppose it depends a lot on personal taste (what sound YOU want to achieve) and style, embourchure and mouthpiece. There are many different factors that can affect what reed you choose. Just go with whatever you think sounds best, at the end of the day that's all that matters.
Vandoren. Java on alto & tenor, blue box on soprano, and ZZ on baritone.
Used to like LaVoz on alto when I played HR pieces, but they really never worked very well with my Guardala. Have never really been able to get on with Ricos of any stripe, though I gave Rico Royals a valiant effort for a few years on tenor.
Which Rico and which Vandoren? The comparison is too general, imo. I like Vandoren V16, but not so much the Javas, for example. And the RJS is a pretty good reed, in my experience, but I haven't tried all the other Ricos.
And for a time I prefered the RJS to V16, now I prefer the V16.
Vandoren; it was pushed as the "better reed" when I started band. Rico's marketing was pretty poor back then, with the boxes full of reeds, separated by only tissue paper. I always hated that the music store had to put them in fragile paper sleeves. Individual packaging is where it's at.
Too much variance in the set ups and players to say one is definitely better than the other unless we discuss consistancy from reed to reed.
But personally I try different reeds and lately it seems from one box to the next lol. I used to avoid Ricos back in the eighties because I hated what you guys think of as "edge" and I think of as the sound of shaken spare change. That there was far too much of it. I played various Dorens over the years and recently tried Ricos again. Ricos have been a bit more consistant than my recent experience with Dorens but I like Hemkes best for what I play. Although I was handed a free box of V12s the other day and the first reed seems refreshingly nice. We'll see how consistant the box turns out to be.
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