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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Which reeds, on alto, are the best for taking lots of air for lots of volume but not closing up when I blow harder? I have a filed cut Vandoren Bluebox 3 that closes up when I play at max volume and I need to play loud since I'm lead alto in my school band. Any reed recommendations?

Thanks
 

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First question is what makes you think the reed is the problem?

Is it because you don't get this issue with other makes/strengths (in which case you already know the answer!!)

What other reeds have you tried? what is your mouthpiece?

I would have thought you just need to experiment as it's a combination of different things:

Reed, mouthpiece and your embouchure. It could be that it's a question of different embouchure and/or air support.
 

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^ +1.

Give us plenty of info about your playing level, experience and setup. THese are important in helping you with your concerns.
 

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It's tempting to ask if the rest of the band know how to play quieter...
 

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Lead alto has to play loud? Why?
The rest of the band has to play at a level so as to NOT overpower the lead alto!!!
Hasn't anyone explained the meaning of the word "BLENDING" to your band?
Sarcastic sounding? Good! I meant it to.
Have a talk with your director about your 'closing up' issue and why it is occuring and see what they have to say about it.
 

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Others on SOTW are much more knowledgeable about this than I am, but my first thought was it's the mouthpiece, not the reed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I use a Vandoren Jazz V5 A45, a Rovner Dark ligature and Rico Jazz Select 2 medium filed. I also use Populaire #2 reeds but they're only backup reeds.

As for asking the rest of the band, that isn't really an option... no offense to my band teacher, but he's not really considerate when it comes to us (the band). He's always says the same thing about my reed closing up, that "Band is not for wimps!".

So I guess it's either changing my mouthpiece or my reed choice...
 

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Either your director is a jackhole brass player or drummer OR You're not telling the entire truth.
I don't know of a band director that wants a LOUD band over a band that can blend.
Try bumping up the strength by only 1/2. See if that doesn't help with the clamming up issue.

I think you may have misheard the directors quote. It's "MARCHING BAND that's not for wimps." ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, I'll try that. Thanks alot. :)

My teacher is a woodwind guy, he's pretty good too; he studied under Andy Fusco from Buddy Rich's band. I guess he's trying to push me to do better, since he does that with students he likes.

Anyways, thanks for the advise.
 

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Yeah, lead alto has to have PROJECTION. Sorry BM, but back in my lead-alto-in-a-big-band days I was so desparate for more power that I was playing a .095 tip Beechler diamond inlay with 3.5 javas. I had NO low end tone, but everything from D1 on up could SCREAM if I wanted it to. Massive resistance, tons of practice required to play softly (I COULD play softly), not comfortable AT ALL. I had to lead my section, which had power -- thus, power was required of me. There is such a thing as a loud band that blends. (For the record, my high school bandleader was a drummer -- ha -- but we were also consistently the best jazz band in state.)

Your V5 A35 has a nice .085 tip and a good "meyer-ish" style. That's totally respectable for a lead alto mouthpiece. I wouldn't play blue box for lead alto, but the fact that you find more volume there than on your Rico Jazz Selects also tells me you need a harder reed. So +1 to the folks who said "harder reeds". If that doesn't work, yeah ok, try a different mouthpiece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My other ligatures scratched the hell out of it before I bought the Rovner. I'm guessing a Vandoren ligature might be more suited to a Vandoren mouthpiece...
 

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If the reed is closing up, it's tempting to say it's too soft, and it may be, but not if you're using a #3; far more likely, you are biting down when you try to play louder. Biting will tend to close the reed down, so try not to bite. Rather, loosen up your embouchure a bit, use lots of air support, and put that air into the horn!
 

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^^ +1

If you're playing an .085 tip with a blue box 3, it's not that the reed is too soft or that you need a new mouthpiece. It sounds like biting and/or simply over-blowing.
 

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I actually think a soft-ish reed is best for the most volume. But in order to play it, you have to be very very disciplined with your embouchure. Do not bite, no matter how hard you blow. A harder reed will actually *_sound_* softer than a softer (but not too soft) reed, everything else being equal. You THINK you are louder because you are working harder to blow, but the sound isn't actually any louder. All that energy is just going to keeping that stiffer reed vibrating.

Make sure your mouth is OPEN - as in saying "AAAAHHHHH" when you play (not "EEEE"). Resist any urge to clamp down on the mouthpiece at all.

A good exercise is to play with a bigger, more open sound is to loosen your embouchure and jaw to the point that the sound falls apart - gets honky, goes flat, and stops. Then bring your embouchure tension and jaw up JUST to the point where the sound is in tune. You will be surprised how open your mouth is and how loose your embouchure is compared to before.

The trick of course is learning to play at that point. It will take time, and you may find your embouchure tires easily at first. But your sound will grow immensely.

I agree with the others, a Vandoren 3 on a 0.085 tip opening is more than hard enough. I would play that mouthpiece with a RJS 2H or 3S, which is much softer than a Vandoren 3.

Oh yeah, one last thing - if your belly isn't hard like iron when you are playing, you are doing it wrong. You need firm breath support and a solid, but loose embouchure to get the best jazz sound.
 

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+1 on soft reed, loose embouchure, and push air from your diaphragm, not from mouth/throat.
 

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Yeah, lead alto has to have PROJECTION. Sorry BM, but back in my lead-alto-in-a-big-band days I was so desparate for more power that I was playing a .095 tip Beechler diamond inlay with 3.5 javas. I had NO low end tone, but everything from D1 on up could SCREAM if I wanted it to. Massive resistance, tons of practice required to play softly (I COULD play softly), not comfortable AT ALL. I had to lead my section, which had power -- thus, power was required of me. There is such a thing as a loud band that blends. (For the record, my high school bandleader was a drummer -- ha -- but we were also consistently the best jazz band in state.)

Your V5 A35 has a nice .085 tip and a good "meyer-ish" style. That's totally respectable for a lead alto mouthpiece. I wouldn't play blue box for lead alto, but the fact that you find more volume there than on your Rico Jazz Selects also tells me you need a harder reed. So +1 to the folks who said "harder reeds". If that doesn't work, yeah ok, try a different mouthpiece.
He's playing an A45.
 

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Just a thought...

As we play single reed instruments more loudly the pitch lowers, as we play brass instruments (and flute) more loudly the pitch sharpens (this is without making any other adjustments to how we are playing). Is your clamping the reed up maybe a function of you trying to bring the saxophone up to a higher pitch centre when the band plays loudly by firming up your embouchure too much?

I'm another one who agrees with Pete Thomas' idea of 'working up to softer reeds'. Over the last 15 years I've moved from 3.5 to 2.5 strength reeds on saxophone(s) and I'm not playing any softer.

Maybe MartinMusicMan is on the right track in post #6 a different mouthpiece might be a better solution to your problem? I tried playing a blue box vandoren 3 today off my classical setup on my Meyer 6M today and couldn’t get it to clamp up without playing too close to the tip. Does more in your mouth help?

Sorry for the endless string of question, just trying to get you and the other SOTW’ers to keep thinking outside the box a little.

JimmyB.
 

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I'd get rid of the rovner ligature if I was you and use a standard two screw metal ligature.
As weird as it sounds, there is some truth in this. I had to play clarinet solos in a live show every night for a year. Did a lot of testing to see what would give the most volume. I tried many of the ligatures out there (including some expensive ones) and the most projecting volume of sound came out of a couple of old two-screw type ligs. However, make sure they are not bent. This is important because the metal can cut into the cane. These ligatures vary in quality and it's worth trying a few. They are not as easy to use as Rovner.

Also, Rovner makes a "light" model which is very good.
 
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