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I find myself playing less saxophone on the gig and more wind synthesizer and lead guitar. The result is the reed dries out on the stand. Sometimes warping as it gets wet again.

I use a huge chambered wide tip opening mouthpiece and I have used Rico 1.5s for a long time. Sometimes they need a little clip, but most often they are just right.

So I'm considering an artificial reed. They are expensive so I'd like to get it right the first time.

I play Rico 1.5 regulars and like to be able to play from sub tones to overblowing for a nasty tone.

Any suggestions?

Sorry if this has been asked a million times before, but in all my searching, I can't seem to get a specific answer.

Thanks.

Notes
 

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I am really liking Legere reeds on bari sax. They even come in 1/4 strength sizes. I can relate. Years ago I played a very open Berg Larsen on tenor and anything harder than a 1 1/2 was too hard to blow. I was embarrassed to ask for that strength in the music store (before the internet).
 

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I am really liking Legere reeds on bari sax. They even come in 1/4 strength sizes. I can relate. Years ago I played a very open Berg Larsen on tenor and anything harder than a 1 1/2 was too hard to blow. I was embarrassed to ask for that strength in the music store (before the internet).
Legere seems to run harder than Rico in my opinion, and 1.5 is the lowest they make, and even that only in the studio cut, so it might not be the best bet.

I would think maybe a Fibracell 1.5 or Forestone S?
 

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Fibracell for sure, you'll have to try a 1 1/2. But, what horn are we talking about? If tenor, have you tried a baritone reed on your big mouthpiece?
 

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Legere seems to run harder than Rico in my opinion, and 1.5 is the lowest they make, and even that only in the studio cut, so it might not be the best bet.

I would think maybe a Fibracell 1.5 or Forestone S?
I generally agree with these recommendations. However, most Forestones seem to be graded with numbers rather than letters these days. I'd suggest a 2, in the Traditional (brown) model, or maybe the Hinoki. Fibracells might work better if you sometimes blow really hard. Forestones have very thin tips.

If you do try the Legeres, I'd say it would have to be the Studio Cut model. The Classic and the Signature will be too hard.

OP, remember that you are asking two different questions:
  • What is a good synthetic reed option for someone who likes playing soft cane reeds?
  • What is the synth equivalent of a Rico 1.5?
As numerous other synthetic reed threads have established, people experience reed strength differently. There's no guarantee that you'll get the strength with the right feel on your first try, even if the best available information suggests that the synth reed's rated strength is equivalent to that of your cane reed.
 

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Getting it right the first time is the trick.

Of all the synthetics, I like Fibracells the best. Even then, I find inconsistencies among the same-strength Fibracells. AND, in my experience, the Fibracells' 1 1/2 and 2's play very strong for me as opposed to similar numbers in Vandoren and Alexander cane reeds. And by strong, I don't necessarily mean harder, just with more punch, if that makes sense.

Plus, mostly it is now Fibracell Premier, which is numerically graded, while the old Fibracells were graded with words like SOFT, MEDIUM, etc. I don't know if the older Fibracells are still being sold, though, so the way they are graded may not be an issue.

Legere, on the other hand, remains a mystery to me. I have yet to find a strength I like and after going through the buy-return-re-try drill, I still haven't found one I like. The return policy is all well and good, but you can only do it once and that wasn't enough for me. To keep THAT process going didn't seem financially good for me. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, I'm a tenor player, with a Link Tone Master 8*NY.

I've been playing pro since 1964 and it's how I make my living. I have no zero experience with synthetic reeds so I'm a newbie at that subject.

I've owned a Conn Fireworks, Selmer Modele 26, Selmer Mark VI, Selmer Mark VII, Couf Superba (my favorite to date), Grassi Prestige, and I'm currently using the Grassi for outdoor gigs and a custom finished MacSax Classic on my indoor gigs.

Right now I'm playing Yacht Clubs, Country Clubs, Retirement Communities, and have a 10+ year once a week house gig at a marina that caters to a middle aged to senior audience. That means a lot of Baby-Boomer Rock and pop mixed with some blues, a few (very few) standards, some Caribbean music (African and Latin), a bit of light jazz, a tad of disco, some New Orleans (rock/blues/Zydeco)and a bit of country.

I cover a lot with my wind synth, it does nice ballads, but cannot do the "Texas Tenor" sound. That's what I need the sax for. I also use the wind synth WX5/VL70m/RolandXV5050 for alto, trumpet, trombone, harmonica, some guitar leads that I can't do on the real guitar (yet - it's my 7th and newest instrument), pure synth sounds, and horn sections.

So when I break out the tenor I usually use a lot of throat growl, wail a lot, and play very intense on the sax tunes. On the other hand I do a few ballads on the tenor and want a nice tone for them.

I might pick up the tenor from one to a half dozen times per hour, depending on the audience. Since I also sing and play the guitar flute and wind synth, the sax can sit on the stand a long time, and that's where I'm having an occasional problem. Reeds dry out and re-warp, and I can usually compensate for this, it also compromises what I can do until the reed starts acting right again.

I have some clips here. The last clip is on the sax, it was a first and last take on a song I hadn't heard before I got to the session. I was handed a chord chart with zero bar lines and no organization as to bars per line or anything, just running chords as if you were typing them with no line feeds until you hit the right hand margin.

Fortunately it was pretty much blues, and the guy asking me to play wanted it to sound bluesy, so it's not my best playing, but my best playing for that circumstance. It does give you an idea of at least that side of my playing.

http://www.nortonmusic.com/clips.html

Does any of this help you help me?

Thanks again.

And where can I try out reeds and return them if they don't work?

Bob
 

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Bob: None of what you posted (as interesting as it was) meant much to me (and probably others) when it comes to selecting reeds. It does show that you are an experienced player, which certainly counts.

With synthetics, I've found that I had to match the mouthpiece to the reed, not the other way around. I use synthetics on horns that I don't play as much . . . I am mostly a soprano sax guy and used alto and clarinet in the bands with which I played. Those two horns sat on the rack/peg much of a set but had to be ready to go when I chose to play them. Cane tended to dry out and warp on my infrequently-played alto and clarinet, hence the synthetic reeds on those horns.

I wasn't able to slap a synthetic reed on any old alto or clarinet mouthpiece. For me, synthetics did not play the same as cane and required some effort to identify a mouthpiece that accepted them well for me.

Since I tended toward open mouthpieces on soprano, none of my favored mouthpieces accepted synthetics. But I was able to find alto and clarinet pieces that accepted synthetics (the more closed tipped pieces), so that ended up being a good arrangement for me.

I don't know anywhere that will allow reed returns, except for Legere - but like I said before, they'll allow only one exchange, assuming that players can settle it out with one exchange. Not for me.

Synthetics are expensive and while I certainly could afford to buy as many as it takes, I chose not to chase after the best Legere at those prices. I'm guessing the only way to solve the issue is to bite the bullet and start buying them and testing them. DAVE
 

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I’d go for a fibracell, they’re well underweight for their size.
Mind you if the orange box are working why bother?
I find myself playing less saxophone on the gig and more wind synthesizer and lead guitar. The result is the reed dries out on the stand. Sometimes warping as it gets wet again.
I'm guessing that's why.

I'm usually a cane player myself, but if I'm doing gigs where I'm playing a lot of guitar or keys or whatever and just jumping on sax for a song or two, I end up going synthetic as well. Though I have a bit easier time of it since I'm not trying to match a Rico 1.5.
 

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I would also go for Fibracell. I the lowest tenor size (1.5?) is still too hard you could try a baritone reed in that size. They play easier on tenor in the same reed size, but the high register can be tricky for intonation (you have to get used to it).
 

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Our Studio cut Tenor Sax reed comes in strength 1.5, and 1.75 if you want a bit more resistance. It's a reed with some buzzy qualities to it that may work. The Signature Series Tenor reed in strength 2 might be a good fit too, it has a bit more harmonic presence than the Studio, but does lack that buzzy-ness you might require for your playing. Both worth trying!
 

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I have some clips here. The last clip is on the sax..
Bob, I didn't hear any sax on that last clip (Caberet?), just guitar. Maybe I pressed the wrong link, but it was the last one on the page.

Anyway, as Dave pointed out, synthetics play a bit differently than cane reeds. Although I still prefer cane, I find the Legeres to play very easily and if I had to put the horn down for long periods to where the reed would dry out, I'd definitely use the Legere. I'm not so sure that the softest Legere (signature or studio) wouldn't work fine for you, even if it was 'harder' than a Rico 1.5. They play differently and respond easily, so it would be worth a try.
 

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Our Studio cut Tenor Sax reed comes in strength 1.5, and 1.75 if you want a bit more resistance. It's a reed with some buzzy qualities to it that may work. The Signature Series Tenor reed in strength 2 might be a good fit too, it has a bit more harmonic presence than the Studio, but does lack that buzzy-ness you might require for your playing. Both worth trying!
I love Legere Signatures, and they are my go-to reed, but with all due respect I have three reeds marked "2.25", one which plays like a 2, one like a true 2.25, and one like a 3. Others have also posted on SOTW about the issue of strength consistency. Now that we have your ear (eyes?), I hope that you can address the strength consistency issue, as you produce fantastic sounding reeds.

Sorry for the thread hi-jack.

To the OP, I have found the Forestone Hinokis to play soft. I have a MS and it plays like a 2 to me, so you might try their S (soft).

And as others have said you really have to match the reed to the mouthpiece and horn and see what works for you. For example, I don't like Fibracells, but others here like them at lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
JL, the sax doesn't come in right away (that wasn't my choice, when a hired gun, you have to do what the contractor expresses that he wants). I don't particularly like the engineering job, I think the sax sounds too thin and there is too much reverb on it, but I charge $50/hour and spent an hour on it. The guy gave me permission to use the clip. I did a few more for the same guy, but I don't know if they ever got pressed or not. He played the guitar, and everything but the sax was recorded before I got there.

Thanks again for all your comments. It's a good place to start.

I tried Rico Plasticover reeds and liked them but the habit of putting the reed in my mouth while I assemble the sax made my tongue numb, and when the plastic (or whatever) that was making my tongue numb started flaking off I figured perhaps I shouldn't be digesting it.

That's why I'm considering a synthetic reed.

So it looks like Legere or Fibercell. I guess I'll try both and see what goes.

I figure there might be an adjustment period. And to tell the truth, I hate to give up cane. But I've had a once-a-week for 10 years gig at a marina. I use my old Grassi sax, and some days I might only play 4 or 5 songs on it in the 3 hour daytime gig. Other days quite a few. But it's outdoors, sometimes hot, sometimes dry, sometimes chilly and the reed sometimes is particularly challenging if it sat on the stand for a while. But if I can make the adjustment, and the tone isn't compromised too much (I don't expect it will be), it seems like it would solve my challenge.

Now if the reed is almost good, can they be clipped or sanded like a cane reed? (Pardon me if this is a stupid question).

Thanks again.

Notes
 

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Hi Bob,
Regarding synthetics, the ones I've used can all be sanded with good results. These include Hahn, Fibrecell, Hartman, never tried clipping though. Lots of guys I've seen using several horns tend to wrap a damp cloth around the mouthpiece, keeps the reed moist. It seems to work for them. Best of luck.
Rob.
 
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