Sax on the Web Forum banner
21 - 30 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,546 Posts
Back in the days of my youth, working on reeds was considered just part of what you did as a woodwind player, and the concept of trying a reed for a short time and throwing it away if it wasn't perfect out of the box would have been foreign to most reed players.
Hear, hear. I got serious about the clarinet when I was 12, and started taking private lessons. That would have been 1960. Somewhere in the first 3 or 4 lessons, shortly after the "Don't play Rico, play Vandoren!" lesson, I was introduced to reed rush and a small glass plaque. I was shown how to work on reeds to get them to play right. I've done that ever since. (I started saxophone on my own a year later, after being exposed to Art Pepper...) While I now use sandpaper instead of reed rush, the principles are the same, and so are the results.

It seems that a lot of saxophonists are afraid of working on reeds, and either just expect them to play out of the box, or expect them to play well after "breaking in". Those expectations are often dashed onto the rocks of reality, prompting people to go searching for a "better" brand, or even synthetics. (There are lots of reasons to play synthetics, but not being able to get a good cane reed is not one of them.)

My wife tells a story of watching Don Menza literally throw a box or two of reeds on the floor, one after the other, slapping reed after reed on his mouthpiece and tossing them when they didn't make the cut. (She had to sweep the bandstand after the rehearsal...) I think a lot of the top players worked that way in the 60's, 70's and 80's just because of time. Running from rehearsal to recording session to TV show to gig doesn't leave a lot of hours to adjust reeds. (Saxophone players have more time these days...)

But it doesn't take a lot of time, really, just a few minutes per reed (five at most). And learning to do that really is part of being a woodwind player.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Back in the days of my youth, working on reeds was considered just part of what you did as a woodwind player, and the concept of trying a reed for a short time and throwing it away if it wasn't perfect out of the box would have been foreign to most reed players.
Depending on what day you come from, the raw materials just seemed to be better. As you, I always flatten reeds. My teacher when I was 10 years old taught me that. But aside from a little strength adjusting, that's it for me. All that adjusting can't change bad cane.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,266 Posts
I bought a box of Blue Box for bass clarinet (I assume they cut them from the same cane as the tenor reeds) earlier this year that was absolute garbage. Every reed was just bad, almost all stuffy and nasal-sounding. Same with the next box. This was totally strange because I can usually use 4/5 in a box once they are broken in (I don't adjust reeds). The fifth one would usually be good enough for practicing slap tonguing or something.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at buying other brands that didn't work for me, I bought another blue box and this one seems to be just fine.

Who knows?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,969 Posts
Take the Vandorens out of their little stupid mylar package, put em back in the box and let them sit around for a year. They'll play better.
I do this too. Its not necessarily a year, but I get them out of that packaging asap when I buy them.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
I played Blue Box for a good long while trying to get them to work.

I experienced the exact same thing. Even in the right strength the way they are cut makes it seem like you are blowing into them rather than past them. A little bit of work and breaking in and it gets better but then they start to close up.

My solution was an easy one. I switched to red Javas. Still dark but way more free blowing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
435 Posts
I have used to much money on Vandoren. I loved the blue box until 5 years ago. Since then I have maybe tried 10-15 boxes, in hope that they would return to "normal". Every time is a disappointment. Very hard, unresponsive, harsh and cold. And each reed so different in strength. And not dark, but very bright and no body... I know reeds are changing each year. But all Vandorens I have tried the last 3-4 years have been bad. I always say, never Vandoren again. But in the old days, some of the best reeds I have had, were the tenor blue box..... So I always hope....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,085 Posts
I have used to much money on Vandoren. I loved the blue box until 5 years ago. Since then I have maybe tried 10-15 boxes, in hope that they would return to "normal". Every time is a disappointment. Very hard, unresponsive, harsh and cold. And each reed so different in strength. And not dark, but very bright and no body... I know reeds are changing each year. But all Vandorens I have tried the last 3-4 years have been bad. I always say, never Vandoren again. But in the old days, some of the best reeds I have had, were the tenor blue box..... So I always hope....
Did you try only Vandoren blue box in the last 5 years? Or perhaps V12 or V21? There is theory than when Vandoren markets a new, more expensive cut of reed, it gets the best cane and the inferior cane goes to the old cut. I have no idea if there is any validity to this, but you may want to try V12 and V21 reeds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
435 Posts
Did you try only Vandoren blue box in the last 5 years? Or perhaps V12 or V21? There is theory than when Vandoren markets a new, more expensive cut of reed, it gets the best cane and the inferior cane goes to the old cut. I have no idea if there is any validity to this, but you may want to try V12 and V21 reeds.
Yes a box of each. And yes I remember them as much better than blue box, Java Red/Green and V16. But they are somehow very expensive here in Denmark. So I decided to go Rico and other brands...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
I played Blue Box for a good long while trying to get them to work.

I experienced the exact same thing. Even in the right strength the way they are cut makes it seem like you are blowing into them rather than past them. A little bit of work and breaking in and it gets better but then they start to close up.

My solution was an easy one. I switched to red Javas. Still dark but way more free blowing.
Hmmm, funny: I've been on Red Javas (tenor, 2.5, 3, and 3.5) for years and never did anything to them; 3 out of 5 would play right away, the other 2 after a short breaking-in period. Since about March, I've experienced major issues, so I finally bought a Reed Geek this fall, learned how to use it properly, and that has indeed made a difference -- still, I consider myself lucky to get 1 gig-worthy reed out of 2 boxes after working on them diligently. The rest of 'em are good enough to practice on, but... The Red Javas for alto have been even worse for me, even though I don't play alto much. One day in the summer I went through a box of 10 and actually thought my alto needed to go the tech for sudden mystery leaks before, in desperation, I slapped on a different brand reed (an old La Voz I think it was) and realized it was those dang Vandorens. It got so bad that I invested a whoooole lot of $$$ in synthetic reeds, yet didn't find anything I liked. So for now it's back to the Reed Geek and the Vandorens, hoping, hoping, hoping that it was just a bad harvest or something...? I still have a stack of Vandoren Reds left, but I'm thinking about switching reed brands, I just don't know to what.........

-j.
 
21 - 30 of 30 Posts
Top