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I haven't had any luck with my reeds lately.
I've been using vandoren v16 for Alto for a few years now, & it feels like lately they have become really bad. I've been purchasing box after box & haven't had any luck with any of them. I'm not sure if the new packaging has anything to do with. Anybody else experiencing this problem? I've tried to switch to other brands but i just cant seem to get that sound i'm use to hearing from the old Vanodorens. The Javas are def better in terms of playing right out of the box, but they just dont have that extra beef the v16 use to have. Anyone else goin broke purchasing boxes and boxes of reeds??
 

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I've had the same problem with V16s recently. I've played them exclusively for about the last 7 or 8 years without problems. Lately they just don't play for me at all! The 2 or 3 out of a box that I get to play are just missing "something". I don't know what it is but I'm sick of trying to figure it out. I've been frantically switching mouthpieces, ligatures and reed strengths trying to feel normal again. Now I've just returned everything back to the way it was and switched to Rico selects. I don't know if it has to do with the new packaging or what but my problems started at the same time Vandoren went to their individually wrapped reeds. I understand the "bad box" theory but I've been playing V16's since they came out in the 1990s and haven't played anything but V16s since around 2000 and this is the first time that I just couldn't play them. I give up. It's Ricos for me from now on.
 

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Ever since Vandoren's new packaging appeared I've been unable to find very many playable Java reeds. For years I would get 3-4 very good reeds from a box of 5 and many times all 5 would be usable. I've just gone through 3 boxes in the last few days without finding any I would consider real good. All my gigs for the last 2 months have been on bad new reeds or worn out recycled reeds from months ago.
 

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I don't play V16's very often and haven't tried any in the new packaging, but I've had the same problems with the Vandoren traditionals. I never get good reeds in the new packaging, some are merely playable, but most are simply terrible. It seems that there's absolutely no resonance or "ring" to the sound these reeds produce. They just feel dead. My theory is that reeds that are manufactured in Paris probably play optimally in Paris. When they are shipped elsewhere, they have to become acclimated to different conditions (humidity, barometric pressure, etc.). In the old packaging, the reeds were able to become acclimated during shipment and then while sitting on the shelf at a distributor. Now that they are in airtight packaging, the reeds can't adjust to varying conditions, so when we open a new reed it is forced to undergo a considerable amount of change. I also notice that the tips of these reeds become rippled during the initial soak, while the reeds in the old packaging seemed to stay flat when I first pulled them out and soaked them. perhaps a sign of instability due to the change in climate. I've tried gradually breaking the reeds in to allow them to acclimate, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. After playing Vandorens exclusively for 8 years, I'm now working on curing 30 reed blanks in my first attempt at making my own reeds. A lot of people seem to be having this problem with the new packaging from Vandroen. It'd be nice if we could somehow convice them to go back to the old packaging, but for some reason I doubt that will happen.
 

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I dunno, does this acclimatization make sense? I mean when you play them they are totally wet so what difference does the ambient humidity make?

I don't mean this to be flip or insulting, just questioning the premise.

Could it be the reeds they're selling now came from a bad year?
 

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MM said:
Could it be the reeds they're selling now came from a bad year?
For me, the downward trend started a few years ago with the V16s. Seemed the reeds were playing flat in pitch and very mid range sounding. No top, no bottom. No center to speak of. I finally went back to LaVoz Hards and have been having great results. I have a song that I like to record the sax over every month or so and compare years past. I've been doing this for about 10 years now. The last time I did it with a V16 ( a month or so ago), the horn sounded like it had a blanket over it compared to a few years ago(2004). Same horn, mpc, lig, etc. The Jazz Selects have been better for me as well. But it seems the LaVoz have a more aggressive tone and feel like the Vs. Using the Rico Reed vault to store them in have seemed to also prolong the life.

On a side note, I have several boxes of LaVoz from the early nineties (unplayed of course). I think the new ones play better then those. Very vibrant and full bodied.
 

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I liked V16's for alto when they first came out, but I have had issues with the tips being funky,with lots of bad fibers for lack of a better word. By that I mean lots of clear stuff, and not the regular dark/light fibers that good reeds seem to have. So far I still like V16's for tenor.

Too bad LaVoz doesn't have a bit larger range of strengths. I find the gap between M and MH a large one. They also don't seem to last through very many playings. Have you found the new ones to be better for this?
 

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MM said:
I liked V16's for alto when they first came out, but I have had issues with the tips being funky,with lots of bad fibers for lack of a better word. By that I mean lots of clear stuff, and not the regular dark/light fibers that good reeds seem to have. So far I still like V16's for tenor.

Too bad LaVoz doesn't have a bit larger range of strengths. I find the gap between M and MH a large one. They also don't seem to last through very many playings. Have you found the new ones to be better for this?
I've not really had much luck with visually judging if a reed is going to be good or not. Some of the funkiest looking reeds have to turned out to be my best friends.

As far as LaVoz as of late, yes I do find they last longer. However, I am playing Hards now and used to play MH. I found that V16s when I used them, seemed to be a bit more on the resistant side (actually, the resistance in al Vandos seems to be in a different spot then Rico/LV). So when I went back, I started on MH, but they died quickly. Now I am start on a H and break it in. It's usually gig ready after 3 or 4 days of practice sessions on it. I never get more then 1 gig out of any reed, but instead of tossing it after, it is still good for practice and they haven't been dieing on stage at all. They really have had a great full tone, fat bottom, dry top, and a lot of center. Really good pitch. I do store them in the reed vault so they never go completely dry after 1st play. The reedgaurd IV keeps the heart and tip just a touch more moist then the rest of the reed.
 

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Huh., 3 or 4 practice sessions first, then 1 gig, and then more practice session out of one reed is ok, but 2 gigs is not? Are your gigs really long and your practice sessions short? I'd find it a drag to never be able to use a really nice reed several times. But only Vandorens seem to last through multiples playings for me; never Rico products such as LaVoz, RJS or Hemke.

There's material for a new thread here. For example, I find it a hassle to pick a reed for a gig...often there is no good place to warm up and at the same time I hate to change reeds on a gig once I find one that will work.
 

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MM said:
I dunno, does this acclimatization make sense? I mean when you play them they are totally wet so what difference does the ambient humidity make?


If this was the case, and the fact that the reed is wet while playing meant that changes in humidity and other conditions didn't make any difference, reeds would always play the same from one location to the next. I know from experience that they behave VERY differently from one place to the next. For example, every time I attend James Houlik's Saxophone Retreat in NC I have to play reeds 1/2 strength softer than usual. In fact, last summer I ended up dropping from a #4 to a #3 on soprano. I had a similar experience last year when I flew to Memphis to give a recital and masterclass. So I find it impossible to conclude that changes in humidity and other environmental conditions have no effect on the responds of my reeds, and I think it makes sense that if a reed is subjected to these changes very suddenly, the effects are even greater.
 

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MM said:
Huh., 3 or 4 practice sessions first, then 1 gig, and then more practice session out of one reed is ok, but 2 gigs is not? Are your gigs really long and your practice sessions short? I'd find it a drag to never be able to use a really nice reed several times. But only Vandorens seem to last through multiples playings for me; never Rico products such as LaVoz, RJS or Hemke.

There's material for a new thread here. For example, I find it a hassle to pick a reed for a gig...often there is no good place to warm up and at the same time I hate to change reeds on a gig once I find one that will work.
Actually, my practice sessions are really long (4 to 6 hours a day) and my gigs are only 90 minutes. It is a pretty intense 90 though. After one gig, the reed isn't quite up to another. Never quite as centered or as full sounding. I can let it chill for a few days and it will snap back a little, but it wouldn't last a whole show.

The 3 or 4 practice sessions before are really just break-in period. Few minutes each day until the reed feels settled and I know how it will react on stage. I keep all the reeds in a Rico Vault. I generally rotate 16 reeds for practicing and keep another 4 to 6 gig ready. I have found the humidity makes a huge difference and know the numbers I am most comfortable with. You can't control the humidity, temp, altitude of the city you travel to, but you can control the room you break-in the reed in and how you store your reeds. That really is the most crucial. Carry a little humidistat with you and check out your practice room from day to day and the gigs. You will start seeing a trend of how the reeds react. If you really want to get methodical about it, keep a log. The key is the player controls the reeds, not the other way around. I went down that road and will never do it again.

There is room here for another thread for sure.
 

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v16's suck!!

i play a dukoff d6 on alto . i use to play a meyer with v16's, but now they suck. i don't get a rich bright tone anymore. What's going on, any reccomendations SP
 

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V-16's

I recently switched over to V-16's on tenor from the traditional. The slope is more gradual and they have a thicker tip. I practice on some ricos here and there, but they just don't seem to have the kind of heart the Vandoren's have-so they rarely make the cut when it comes time for a gig.
Also when I work on them or balance them (ricos), they seem to get brighter unlike the Vandoren's which maintain a certain "darker" resonance.

I notice the Gonz, Potter, Garzone, and many others endorse the Rico Jazz Select-I wonder if there's something to this or is it just an endorsement.

Furthermore, I notice the frustrations about the packaging. Personally, I doubt the packaging has that much to do with the quality of the cane.

I do subscribe to Liebman's teaching's about the mouthpiece reed combination. He says that a good round chamber mouthpiece and good piece of french cane are the only way to go.

Check out Charles McPherson on alto-plain 'ol Meyer 5M w/Traditional Vandoren 3 1/2! :)
 

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eugesax said:
I never get more then 1 gig out of any reed,...
Man, this would be totally unacceptable to me. I've been using V16s on tenor for several years and haven't noticed any significant change recently. For a time I used Rico Jazz Select and liked them, but they didn't last as long as a V16. They still lasted longer than one gig, though! I can usually get at least 3 gigs out of a good V16, and sometimes more. And these are 3 to 4 hour gigs, with lots of hard blowing in a blues band.
 

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I have always hated the V16's. I remember in high school/uni I was a very very very strict Vandoren (purple box) 3 to 3 1/2 player for everything and was very happy. I would generally have two to three reeds going, usually monday I would end up snapping one at the end of the day to make sure it didnt fall back into rotation. I dont have the patience to document 16 reeds!

I find that smaller reeds (soprano, clarinet) tend to last a lot longer for me than say, baritone reeds. I feel like I could use a brand new bari-sax reed every single time I play. But when I have to bust in a soprano reed on stage in the heat of the moment....well....peking duck anyone?

With the humidity I live in (almost zilch at this elevation) and lots of trying different things, I found I like the Hemke's the best, because they last the longest and are most consistent from reed to reed.
 
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