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Discussion Starter #1
Rico regular - everybody has played them, few admit it. Just because, I bought a 3-pack of #2 1/2 tenor one time at the music store, and they seemed a little resistant/stuffy. The next time I went to that store, I tried a 3-pack of #2. Hmmm - pretty good. So I played one on my last gig, an outdoor show on 7/3, hot and humid, one long set. This went well - maybe a tad soft for a longer gig but playable out of the pack. So later I tried the 2 1/2 again and they are aging well, getting about to the sweet spot.
I started having trouble with RSJ 3 Soft a few years ago where they seemed to be getting harder. Ever since then, I have been bouncing around with Rico Royal and others trying to find some consistency. I might be buying some more of the orange box Ricos but first I'll try some Royal #2 instead of the usual 2 1/2. I guess its me more than the reeds - I'm not playing enough to keep my chops up, only about 15 gigs this year plus about the same number of rehearsals, and age is becoming a factor too. But hey, you do what you need to do.
 

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I also liked the feel of #2 Rico regulars a lot with my more opened mouthpieces. But unfortunately they sounded a bit thin in the upper register for me and they felt even softer after a while of playing. When you have a good mpc/horn combination to compensate that, they can be a good match.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, I play a Guardala King Curtis on tenor that is .116 (2.95mm) and I have played this type of mouthpiece since 1961 - Brilhart Level Air, Berg Larsen 130/0, etc., but I never had to go down to a #2 before. I still think today's reeds are typically harder than they used to be.
 

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I like #3 Rico regulars on bari.
Me too! Berg 100/2 wails with them. It's marked "SMS" but Jimmy Jensen fixed the facing real good and says it is about a 52 length now with a 0.101" tip.

Ricos used to be widely regarded as THE boss reed. That was the "brown box" era and also I suppose the "actual wooden box" era. I still find them to be quite good, especially some boxes I've bought that are 10 - 20 years old.
 

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As far as I can tell, the main difference between the Orange Box Ricos and the Select Jazz reeds is that the Ricos are thinner in the top half of the reed. That is, the spine doesn't travel as far up. That and the fact that QC is not as good for the Ricos, there are always a couple in every box that are really badly made, with bark going halfway up one side, or the blank being really really thin or something. But for a longer lay mouthpiece, they are good.

I play em and am proud to admit it, even though I mostly play Rigotti now. I just wish the days of Brown Box Ricos was not gone - those reeds were better than anything today - of course that is looking through the rose colored glasses of advanced age...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I did play a gig 7/3 on the best #2 of the three I had, but last Saturday night I had to start on a #2 1/2. That went very well on tenor and it looks like my embouchure recovers its strength quickly. The problem now is the reeds I'm playing on alto and baritone are suddenly too soft with the newly-recovered embouchure power. I need for those to be synthetic because cane will dry out between uses. I might have to go back to Plasticovers on those two at least until I can find the right synthetic. I just opened my last Rico-branded box of Select Jazz 3 Soft, unfiled, to put in my case for possible use. Meanwhile I'm going to pick up some more Rico 2 1/2s.
 

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Just for giggles I took out one of my last remaining Rico V-3 1/2 brown box reeds from the late 80s. Comparing the profile to a Select Jazz and a Rico Orange Box reed, it's closer to the Select Jazz. The spine is noticeably thicker for the old Rico and the Select Jazz reed, compared to the newer Rico.

I don't know if that means anything, but I have found that the Orange Box Ricos are thinner sounding in the upper range than the Select Jazz (or my memory of the old V Ricos).
 

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I always feel like I am gonna get splinters playing Orange box.

I suppose its not that its too hard to polish them. They are ok but they dont float my boat. I never liked RJS either...Lavoz either...

I can half get along with Royals.

Guess I dont like Rico on tenor. I do like some of their products on alto.
 

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I played a 0.135" (10*) Florida Link with La Voz medium reeds for years, but wanted to go a bit darker in sound and found an old box of Rico Royal 2 that works out just fine for me. In the beginning I had some intonation issues when really pushing, but that's something that goes better now. Since I can't practice a lot (only one Big Band rehearsal of 2.5 hours a week and 5-10 gigs a year) I can't go harder in reed strength right now, but I think that would be better for my sound.
 

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I always feel like I am gonna get splinters playing Orange box.

I suppose its not that its too hard to polish them. They are ok but they dont float my boat. I never liked RJS either...Lavoz either...

I can half get along with Royals.

Guess I dont like Rico on tenor. I do like some of their products on alto.
I always lightly sand the reed when I first take it out of the box. When I say lightly, I mean feather touch with 400 grit sandpaper, 2-3 strokes. It DOES prevent splinters :) More importantly, it also refines the tip , removing any bent or incompletely cut fibers that can really cause response problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah, they are kind of rough, but man up! :)
Seriously, I ordered a ton of different reeds, all Rico or D'Addario; orange box, Rico Reserve, D'Addario Reserve, Plasticover. The Reserve looks great but haven't had a chance to play any of them yet. Just by looks, quality of cut, fiber density and uniformity, they remind me of the everyday reeds of 50 years ago. I hope they turn out that way.
I also recalled having played a really perfect reed (for me) back in the early '60s, the 'Oscillator' by Boosey & Hawkes. Its big difference was a slot drilled halfway through the reed in the center at the edge of the vamp, about 10mm long by 3mm wide, running the long way. I believe they were unfiled. They came in soft, clear plastic holders and I don't remember ever getting a bad one. So, years later I started making that cut on my reeds and it did make a difference. I got lazy and haven't done that in a few years. I used a Dremel with either a flat 1/8" mill or 1/8" ball.
I might start doing that again.
 

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I played Lots of mpc’s and horns but i find it hard to play anything else then Orange Rico’s.....i have been playing them since 1985, tried almost every other brand but i seem to only be able to play the Orange ones....
 

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1saxman...you can make a jig real fast and use a drill press and a cheap router bit for that cut. It can help stuffy reeds. I find a few flexes with the ole thumb on the vsmp of a wet reed accomplishes about the same. I think it losens the fibers but indont know for sure.
 

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I like the results of the Reserve reeds for all around playability on Alto and tenor. They work well and last a long time as part of a four reed rotation. The select jazz (filed) Work well for me on soprano and tenor. I prefer both of these to Vandoren except the v21 and v12.

Yeah, I’m using “classical” reeds to play jazz. I like the darker tone and the clarity of articulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay, I played them all today. To cut to the chase, let's just say that I'm very glad I included the box of ten regular Rico 2 1/2 with the order. These turned out to be my favorite of the batch, but not the only ones I will be using. The 2 1/2 Plasticover I threw in also turned out to be in the sweet spot I'm looking for, just a tad on the hard side. Rico Reserve #2 seems to run hard, at least 1/2 grade. Still, two of the five went into a reed guard and into my case - the others may come in with aging/minor tweaking and maybe the 'slot cut' I mentioned.
I have to say, Rico Reserve are fine reeds but they tend to make me want to play more 'legit'. :) I think they are geared toward the legit players and they achieve that very well, but they also can get down and dirty depending on your set-up. They tend to have a very clear and focused sound which lends itself to easy altissimo and more accurate articulation.
I also got a box of Reserve 2 1/2 but did not play one because there was no point - they would be like playing a stiff #3 to me. I guess I'll put those on the Marketplace.
So that's it for this batch. I already have moved the new Select Jazz 3 Soft Unfiled reeds off my radar after using the old Rico-branded ones for many years but would still consider buying Royal 2 1/2.
As for the Orange Box Ricos, what can I say? They run more true to grade, have a lot of variability within a box (sometimes a good thing) and produce a more spread tone with pretty good response throughout the range. Some of them run out of gas in the high tones but most are simply 'wet 'n play' just like you would expect.
 
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