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This question may be extremely subjective, but here goes...

Often (especially lately) I find myself wondering if I have ever played on a perfect reed for me. I'm still unsure. What constitutes a perfect reed? How can I tell if a reed is too hard or soft? How freely should a reed blow? My reeds seem to change so much as they will be too soft one day, too hard the next, and then just right another.

I guess what I am trying to ask, is how can you all tell if you are playing the perfect reed? Also, do you have problems with your perfect reeds once you have found them?

Thanks in advance everybody.
 

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If you have to ask............

I've played a lot of perfect reeds. While they last, it's sheer heaven. While it lasts.

All I can say is you'll know it when you find one. However, if by perfect you mean it will last forever, then of course the perfect reed doesn't exist. But in a temporary sense, just like all good things, the perfect reed can be found, but won't last. This reminds me of the lyrics of a great Mose Allison song:

"Such a perfect moment, never twice the same, such a perfect moment....will keep youuuuuuuuuu ...in the game."
 

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I've had "perfect" reeds. They come and go. You really can't look for one. Since JL quoted the great Mose Allison........ let me loosely quote John Lennon, It just kind of "happens while you are busy doing other things". I suppose the perfect reed is the one that allows you and your mouthpiece to express yourselves as you desire.
 

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You find the brand and strength reed that most often is playable for you. You will find in every box one or more reeds that have 'it', whatever 'it' is for you. For me its a loud response with moderate effort, and not stuffy in the middle and low notes. Altissimo will pop. Effort-wise, I like this reed to be just a little 'hard'. Actually when getting ready for a 3 or 4-set gig, I may put this reed back in the Reed Guard for later, and play the first set on an older reed that used to be just like this new one, but now is nearing the end. I do this to let me play decently while I warm up my embouchure in the first set while things are a little more subdued. By the second set when there is a people-buzz in the room and things are louder, I will need that harder reed when I really start bearing down. I always have a loaded Reed Guard with me on stage and usually change reeds at least once if its more than one set.
But like already said, there is no perfection; not in you, not in the horn, not in the mouthpiece and not in the reed. With reeds, sometimes its okay to go where the reed wants to take you rather than you trying to drag the reed kicking and screaming where you want to go. You never know, you might discover something interesting.
 

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You'll know when you find it, that's for sure. Also, what's the perfect reed one day may stink the next.
Sometimes I spend too much time finding the next perfect, or playable reed,while I have a couple that are working ok.
The other problem is having that reed that works well and you're trying to save it for gigs.
 

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You'll know when you find it, that's for sure. Also, what's the perfect reed one day may stink the next.
Sometimes I spend too much time finding the next perfect, or playable reed,while I have a couple that are working ok.
The other problem is having that reed that works well and you're trying to save it for gigs.
Yup. Then there's that day when none of your 'good ones' seem to do the trick, and as a last resort you go to one that's been squirrely or less-than-desirable in the practice room, and it gets you through the night like a rock star.
 

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If you have to ask............

I've played a lot of perfect reeds. While they last, it's sheer heaven. While it lasts.
It's a lesson on impermanence - keeps us humble.
 

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What is "the Perfect Reed"?

The one I didn't have, meaning, the cane always looks good on the other side of the tracks and it is always an endless search for "the perfect reed."
That goes for mouthpieces too.
 

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I had the perfect reed for about 2 days in April 1978...
 

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Placement of the reed on the mouthpiece is very important, it will change how a reed plays, e.g. If a reed is a bit hard you can move it down a bit, and if a bit soft you could move it up. If you're not placing the reed exactly the same way on the mouthpiece from day to day it could produce the changes in hardness you are experiencing.
 
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