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Discussion Starter #1
I have a yamaha 62 tenor
mouthpieces
yamaha 4c which i no longer use
a yanigasawa 9 gap
a ebay 6c $45 metal mouthpiece
on all of these I can use with
Jave red 2.5
forestone ms
vandoren 1.5 to 2.5, the 1.5 on the 9 gap only
Legere 2.5

the only unusable reeds I ever bought were a 5, cant remember the brand.
and a legere 2
apart from these I have never bought a unusable reed.
It might take a single play session to get a reed to behave, some take three.
Current favourite is the ebay 6c with java red 2.5.
I rarely soften reeds though with synthetics I might have a bit of overhang on the mouthpiece.
What qualifies a reed as unplayable?
am I so bad I cant tell?
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Most original unmodified reeds will be playable for somebody. For me, a reed has to be in a very narrow window of attributes. I recently changed mouthpieces and the new one is a little more reed-friendly. I also had to change reed brand for it and a box of the new reeds has a very high percentage of instant players. Even though some of the reeds are harder than others, I eventually make use of nearly all of them with no modification. Over the years I have tended to start a night on a softer used one then change to a slightly harder newer one after the first set. I have noticed that I'm going through these reeds faster than I did the previous brand/strength but part of that is I have finally learned after 55 years of working as a sax player to throw away a reed when its done, not try to eke one more set out of it. They are expensive but not that expensive.
Can you expand on 'overhang on the mouthpiece'? The reed should be mounted so when bent to the tip it matches the tip - not over or under, although sometimes you can put it just barely under by the least detectable amount - never over.
 

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With natural cane reeds, some reeds just suck. Don't worry, you will find one eventually.

That said, some mouthpieces do better with certain reeds, some mouthpieces are more "reed picky," and some players are more picky than others.
 

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My secret weapon in dealing with my cane reeds is a 1.25" strip of emery cloth, which is like very flexible sandpaper.
Any reed that is being uncooperative, gets sanded into submission. I start with 2 1/2 reeds and when I finish, they are probably somewhere between 2 and 2.4, depending on the state of my embouchure at the time. I generally favour big tip openings in my mouthpieces and softer reeds, rather than small tip openings and harder reeds - this allows me to have a big, expressive sound, without working too hard, and so I can play softly as well.

I then mark a line in pencil in the end of the reed - one line for a reed ready for a gig, one and a half lines, two lines, etc., for lesser performing reeds. When a reed is no longer playing that well, I can add a line in pencil.
I like to have about 5 good reeds that are ready to go at any time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I am loath to trim a $40 synthetic reed so I let the reed tip go up to 2mm past the mouthpiece.
somedays a synthetic will seem softer and this hardens it on that day.
dont know why
but it works well. not on cane though.
 

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I am loath to trim a $40 synthetic reed so I let the reed tip go up to 2mm past the mouthpiece.
somedays a synthetic will seem softer and this hardens it on that day.
dont know why
but it works well. not on cane though.
Placing a 'too soft' cane reed a smidge over the tip of the mouthpiece DOES work.
Been doing it when necessary since I was 10 years old. Showed students the 'quick fix' as well. Worked for them too! :)
 

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"unusable reeds- do they exist?"

In a word...Yes.

When a reed is worn out, it's unusable, on a gig anyway, and with new reeds there always seems to be at least one in every box that is a total dud, no matter how much I work on it (it goes in the trash where it belongs).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
many thanks to all who replied to unusable reeds- do they exist?
Especially to the distinguished members who put it all into perspective for me
 
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