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So today, my commissar told me he had heard that Branford prefers to use a clarinet reed on his soprano sax and ordered me to investigate the matter. Frankly, this was kind of new information to me as I never had the thought of using anything but a soprano reed on the soprano. I had heard Branford in concert, and his soprano sound is fantastic - one of the best IMO. Hey, maybe that's the reason why I can't sound like him - I'm using the wrong type of reed!

So here are two clips Sop97 & 98, recorded simply and directly into a Zoom H4. One of them is with a clarinet reed Rico Royal 3.5, and the other is with a VD 3 reed. Have a listen and see which you prefer (if any), and can you guess the identity on the clip which is featuring the clarinet reed.

Oh, and I did learn it's not the clarinet reed that makes me sound nothing like Brandford, as will be apparent in the clips. I'm using a SML (Riffault) stock mouthpiece, don't really know the tip size, and the horn will remain anonymous for now.

This is my first time uploading clips to SOTW so I hope this works.
 

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On first listening, they sound quite similar. On repeated listening back and forth, I prefer Sop97. I feel there is a depth and complexity to the tone that is not as evident in Sop98. Sort of like a nice french burgundy compared to an australian Shiraz. As for which is the clarinet reed, I have no idea. So this does make it a blindfold test of sorts.

My 2 cents.
 

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The first one is a little more complex in sound, a little more buzzy. The second one sounds "cleaner" to me, more open in the higher register.
I think, the first one is played on a soprano sax reed, the second on a clarinet reed.

I like them both, soundwise.

This is very interesting for me, as I thought I found my personal soprano sound with the combination S-80 F/ Vandoren blue clarinet reeds 2 or 2 1/2 ( with a Yani S 800), which does not work for me at the moment. So the search is on again...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The first one is a little more complex in sound, a little more buzzy. The second one sounds "cleaner" to me, more open in the higher register.
I think, the first one is played on a soprano sax reed, the second on a clarinet reed.

I like them both, soundwise.

This is very interesting for me, as I thought I found my personal soprano sound with the combination S-80 F/ Vandoren blue clarinet reeds 2 or 2 1/2 ( with a Yani S 800), which does not work for me at the moment. So the search is on again...
So by first clip, I take it you mean 98? Your reply is intriguing in that you are saying that you played for quite some time with a Selmer S80 F using VD clarinet reeds, with your Yani S800 horn? So firstly, why did you prefer to use the clarinet reed instead of a soprano sax reed? And secondly, what changed to make you feel that now this combination doesn't work for you anymore?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to listen and the feedback..
 

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When I switched to Rico Plasticover reeds exclusively for all my saxes, I didn't have one for soprano. But I was using them on my clarinet, so I tried the clarinet Plasticover and I really liked it. I haven't looked back since. Plus they are cheaper.

The length of the clarinet reed is alittle longer than a soprano sax reed, but I like the fact that it sticks out alittle bit.
 

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[QUOTE

The length of the clarinet reed is alittle longer than a soprano sax reed, but I like the fact that it sticks out alittle bit.[/QUOTE]

Why???
 

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So by first clip, I take it you mean 98? Your reply is intriguing in that you are saying that you played for quite some time with a Selmer S80 F using VD clarinet reeds, with your Yani S800 horn? So firstly, why did you prefer to use the clarinet reed instead of a soprano sax reed? And secondly, what changed to make you feel that now this combination doesn't work for you anymore?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to listen and the feedback..
Yes, 98 for me sounds like a soprano reed, 97 like a clarinet reed.

I took clarinet reeds, because my yani really sang with them. I like a somehow open, "classical" sound, and the clarinet reeds did the trick.
My problem now: My sound isn't stable at the moment, tone disappears sometimes, when I come down from 2nd octave. Don't know why (perhaps my embouchure is too relaxed I thought) And so I check out different mouthpieces and reeds again.
 

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98 sounds has a very 'nasal' sound, too buzzy kinda harsh. I think 97 sounds better :)
I don't know which is which but for what it's worth I use clarinet reeds as well on soprano.
 

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I just took out some soprano sax reeds and clarinet reed and measured the widths of the cut portion. The soprano reeds were very close to 1mm wider than the clarinet reeds. This could possibly have an effect upon the control of the sound on mouthpieces with very narrow side rails IMO. I agree that length is not that important, but my question is why not just use the reed that is designed and made specifically for the dimensions of the soprano mouthpiece?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I just took out some soprano sax reeds and clarinet reed and measured the widths of the cut portion. The soprano reeds were very close to 1mm wider than the clarinet reeds. This could possibly have an effect upon the control of the sound on mouthpieces with very narrow side rails IMO. I agree that length is not that important, but my question is why not just use the reed that is designed and made specifically for the dimensions of the soprano mouthpiece?
The only explanation given to me was the clarinet reed had "more heart", and I suspect this refers to the longer shank and length of the clarinet reed. My own view, from my short play between them, is that the clarinet reed had a slightly cleaner, more focused sound. The soprano sax reed sounded more spread and natural to me. The differences are so slight as to be explained away simply by reed to reed variation IMO. I personally find both clips acceptable, just slightly different.

Interestingly, almost everyone who hazarded a guess on which clip was of the clarinet reed got it right - rather impressive! 98 is of the VD soprano #3 reed and 97 is the Rico #3.5 reed, and both reeds are filed designs. Significantly, quite a few of the posters preferred clip 97, i.e. they preferred the sound of the clarinet reed.
 

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I don't use clarinet reeds on soprano. But I do use soprano reeds on clarinet. I know they cost more, but they sound much better to me.
 

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I don't use clarinet reeds on soprano. But I do use soprano reeds on clarinet. I know they cost more, but they sound much better to me.
This is also something interesting and may make some sense.

I did some further testing today going between various mouthpiece and reed combinations. The clarinet reed on sop seems to have a quieter, cleaner and more focused sound, but there are some trade offs for this. It doesn't seem to articulate as well, such as when playing faster tongued passages. I also feel that the extreme high notes like F3 don't speak as easily also.

Overall, I still prefer the soprano reed. It has a fuller, wider sound and feels more natural to me. I find it easier to get a warmer rounder sound with the soprano reed, which ties in with what Enviroguy said above about getting a better sound using soprano reeds on clarinet..
 
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