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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everybody,

My son, who generally plays tenor was asked to play bari this year by his jazz band director. Fortunately they have a school instrument that plays apparely very well and with a metal mouthpiece for him to use.

But now we're stumped in finding an appropriate reed to buy. My eyes bugged out at how expensive bari reeds are (in comparison to alto and tenor), so buying box of 5-10 of every hardness and brand just to try out gets super expensive (and potentially very wasteful with accumulating non-playable reed for him)...

So I was wondering if there's a known good method to be able to try out different reed brands and strengths without breaking the bank?

when he was shopping for tenor reeds, there was a local store that was selling single reeds (open box) at a time, but unfortunately went out of business last year. it cost a bit more buying singlets, but it's much better to spend like $5-10 on a reed and collecting different strengths and brand than commiting $40-60 on a box of 5 that you find out you can't really play on...

for now, he's using Rico orange 2.0, which is too soft for him (and he doesn't like Rico Orange.. but that was the only bari reed we could get our hands on locally on a short notice).

for his tenor, he uses Vandoren Java (green) 2.5 on a Rousseau JDX mouthpiece and really likes it. should we also start with Java? or will the bari play very differntly from tenor that same brand won't necessarily work (especially because the mouthpiece that came with the school bari is metal too...). for his alto I think he uses Rico Royal (switches between 2.5 and 3) on an Otto Link hard rubber but alto is generally used for concert band, so.. is played a bit differently from what I understand.

any pointers in the direction we should look into is greatly appreciated...

ps. he's trying out different harnesses too. the one that came with the bari has no padding and he said it was painful (after playing an hour). but fortunately those you can buy, try it out, and return if it doesn't work...
 

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What reeds he uses on alto and tenor means nothing.
What we need to know is what mouthpiece he's using on bari other than 'metal'. Brand?
Model? Not all mouthpieces have the same specs.
FWIW, the best reeds I've found for bari have been RICO Orange box.
 

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If Rico 2 is too soft, try 2 1/2. You can buy a 3-pack which would be better than a box of 10 for this purpose. Once you find the appropriate Rico strength, you then have a basis for comparison, using reed charts available online. Rico will be on the softer side generally speaking while Rico Royal is a little harder, for example. It also strikes me as rather crazy for a school baritone to have a 'metal mouthpiece'. like already said, if you want better advice on reeds we have to know what that mouthpiece is and a picture or two would be nice.
 

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Yes, the mouthpiece model and tip opening would help but there's no need to try every reed in every strength. Just be thoughtful about what you try. Orange box #2 is about the softest reed you can get so a firmer strength is likely in order. There are lots of reed strength comparison charts online that you can look at. These are not perfect but they are often good to get a general idea of which cuts run a bit firmer than others. Also recognize that reed strength is not exact so even within a single box of reeds there will be some variability so trying just one single reed, even if you could buy them that way, may not tell you as much as you think. Likewise, learning a bit about adjusting reeds by working on them even a little can be very helpful, especially for bari reeds which are very expensive. I find I have better luck clipping bari reeds that are a little too soft than I do with alto or tenor though you may not want to invest in a reed clipper for bari reeds unless you are sure he's going to play bari for more than just a single year.

I'd think about trying something about a hardness up from what he has like Vandoren Java 2.5, Orange-box 3.0, D'Addario (Rico) Jazz Select 2H or 3S. You'll get much better pricing if you buy online where they should be around $30-$35 a box. You may also want to think about synthetic reeds which are often more consistent reed to reed than natural cane. Unfortunately that's about the best you are going to do. You may be lucky and get just the right combination of strength and cut on the first try or it may cost you $100 because you need to buy a few boxes. Even in the latter case many of those reeds should be usable. It's unlikely that they will be way too soft right out of the box. What's more likely, if they're a bit soft, is that they'll just break-in and get too soft to use more quickly. If they are too hard you can sand them with a small piece of sandpaper (I find I can use anything from 200-400 grit with good results) to bring the hardness down and make them usable.
 

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'Orange box #2 is about the softest reed you can get'

What about orange box #1 and #1 1/2? LOL

You might be surprised to learn how many of these soft reeds they sell, and not all to beginners.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi all,

Ok. I will ask my son to get a photo of the mouthpiece (or bring the mouth piece back so I can take a look at it). I think the mouth piece actually belongs to the band director and he's just allowing the student to use it since it's better than the stock mouthpiece... I'll find out more.

and before anyone asks, he'll be leaving the bari at school, but practice on this alto at home... at least in the beginning!

in the mean time, I'll see if I can get my hands on a Rico Orange 2.5 or 3, 3-pack to help him with the hardness issue. I know he prefered Rico Royal over Rico Orange for his tenor, so once we settle on a hardness, we can do some lateral brand transitions using those reed strength charts...
 

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FWIW, I use D'Adarrio Jazz Select 2S FILED and love them, they are great with bari's.
I did a pretty big reed comparison myself and ended up right back where i started with them, for the sound i was looking for.
I have a metal Theo Wanne Durga 3, btw.

If you PM me your address I can send you a a bunch of varying brands and strengths for him to explore that I have extras of....they are just sitting in my 'no thanks' bin.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Motteatoj,

thanks for your offer. We'd love to take you up on it!

found out that the Bari he's using at school is a new (bought last year, apparently) Yani 901...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Seems like the mouth piece is working okay so far. He's still figuring out the reeds, etc. so will be a while before he will venture out in changing the mouthpiece if needed.

He settled on Protec harness and seems to work well. His sax teacher uses the Jazzlab sax holder, so he's seen it. he might try using his teacher's to see how it feels later. but for the time being he seems happy with the Protec harness.

"ps. he's trying out different harnesses too. the one that came with the bari has no padding and he said it was painful (after playing an hour). but fortunately those you can buy, try it out, and return if it doesn't work..."

https://www.wwbw.com/JAZZLAB-saXhol...MI6M_f36Co5AIVhobACh3fqAv1EAQYASABEgK9avD_BwE

Hope that mpc works out ...

Zero chamber ...
 

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I have been playing Legere Signature synthetic reeds on bari for the last two years and they are more consistent and longer lasting than any of the cane reeds I tried. The initial cost is a bit more, but to me they are worth it since you can just put it on the mouthpiece and you are ready to play. They are sold in 1/4 sizes so it is possible to find a good match for the mouthpiece tip opening you are using. With a Berg 110 - 0, a #2 would be a good size to start with.
 

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"ps. he's trying out different harnesses too. the one that came with the bari has no padding and he said it was painful (after playing an hour). but fortunately those you can buy, try it out, and return if it doesn't work..."

https://www.wwbw.com/JAZZLAB-saXhol...MI6M_f36Co5AIVhobACh3fqAv1EAQYASABEgK9avD_BwE

Hope that mpc works out ...

Zero chamber ...
The Jazzlab harness is the ONLY one that I’ve found that is comfortable with a Bari. They have a new version coming out soon but I’d grab one of the current ones to try out
 

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So I was wondering if there's a known good method to be able to try out different reed brands and strengths without breaking the bank?
This is a very good question, but unfortunately there is no simple answer. Partly it depends on what you mean by "breaking the bank." If you want to try and get by without spending much at all, then you won't be able to try out many different reed brands and strengths. Trying out a range of sizes and brands will cost some money. So I'm assuming you want to find out a way to limit the expenditure, which is totally understandable. But there are a couple of facts to take into consideration:

First and foremost, you simply can't make any reasonable judgment based on trying only ONE reed of any given brand or strength. This is because of the well-known fact that reeds are not totally consistent. So if you want to know how a given brand plays, you need to test out at least 3 or 4 reeds in that brand in a specific size. But if your son is trying out reeds that are way too hard or too soft (for him), that won't tell much about the particular brand either (he won't like any of them).

I would start by determining what size reed seems suitable. At least get into the "ballpark." Probably best to start with a med to med-soft size and go from there. You say your son finds a Rico reed #2 is too soft. Yet he really likes a 2.5 Java on tenor. So, while you can't directly compare tenor to bari for picking a reed, it makes sense to try 2.5 for the bari. He doesn't like Rico Orange, so try something else in a 2.5 size*. Maybe the Java. But trying only one Java 2.5 won't necessarily tell him much. Just get a box and see if at least some of the reeds play well. If he likes them well enough, then he's set for the time being. Maybe he will try a different brand the next time he needs reeds and now he'll have a base line (Java 2.5) to make the comparison. But he'll still have to shell out the $$ for a box of the next brand he tries. It doesn't have to be done all at once.

Just like everything else to do with learning music, there is no short cut to figuring out the reeds that he'll prefer. And it will likely change over time. It's just a matter of keeping at it and he'll get there!

*p.s. Keep in mind that the sizes don't necessarily translate across different brands. There are charts that give a rough comparison from one brand to the next.
 
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