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How wide a range of reed strengths do you/can you play on the same mouthpiece? I play a 2 1/2 on my Guardala, and that's it. I can barely get a sound out of a 3, and a 2 is like a piece of tissue paper.

What's your experience, and how do you do it? Vary the airstream? And why, different sound, volume, etc.?
 

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I use LaVoz medium-hard and medium and Gonzalez 2.5 on alto (Meyer 6M)and tenor (Link 7). The MH and Gonzalez give me good resistance and a darker sound. The mediums give a brighter, buzzier sound. I do need to back off with the mediums, and work a little harder to make sure I blow from my diaphram (I get lazy with a softer reed). On bari, with a HR Link 7, I use a wider range. For big band work, LaVox MH or M. For concert work I use a LaVoz MH or for a really smooth, dark sound, Gonzalez 3.25. The Gonzalez strenths are similar to Vandoren traditionals.

Changing reeds gives me, to my ear, different sounds. I don't know if the audience notices the difference.
 

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Frank D said:
What's your experience, and how do you do it? Vary the airstream? And why, different sound, volume, etc.?
I don't find that it has much to do with airstream, though I could be wrong about this: it seems more a matter of dealing with the reed/tip ratio with your embouchure. I have alternated among 2S and 3H Rico Select Jazz reeds on my RPC for experimental purposes, and they all play just fine; it makes some difference to my ear in the timber and in the response esp. on the high end, and I gravitate back to a 2M because of my own comfort level.
 

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I *can* play anything from a Rico Jazz Select 2H to a V16 5 on my Mojo Dukoff D7, but usually something around a La Voz medium works the best.
 

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Frank: I think reeds vary SO much that one can't count on any specific strength to play correctly. When it happens, it is unusual, not the norm.

So, I choose reed strengths around 2 or 2 1/2 and adjust EVERY one of them during the reed-prep process. If a reed doesn't play well for me, out comes the knife - EVERY TIME. I don 't even attempt to adjust my embouchure or anything else in my playing. DAVE
 

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I am a beginner, so I have limited experience with different reeds. I have found out that I prefer to very lightly polish my reeds before playing.

So far I have been playing on mostly Gonzales #2 or 2.25. But then I switched recently to a Rico Royal #2.5 and then to a #3. Before I couldn't play a #3. But now I can even if I tire a little sooner.

So I did a little shoot out, and compared my Gonzales 2, 2.25, Rico Royal 2.5 and 3, La Voz medium and VanDoren 2.5 (blue box I think).

On my first play through the VanDoren came out on top, followed closely by La Voz 2.5 and Rico Royal 2.5 on second. Then the Rico Royal #3.Gonzales was quite far behind, on account of being to soft maybe? The tone was inferior, as was the dynamic range.

What I was looking for was tone and ease of playing, the difference was much bigger than I had expected. I feel I is so much easier to reach the top of the second octave with a nice tone now. And generally it is much easier to play with a good reed.

There is absolutely no science to this, and I have yet to play through all the reeds again. But I saw this recommended here and I had to try.

My advise is go through you box and throw out the worst ones. You might even go down on the corner and pick up a few different reeds of your choice of strength and give them a try.

I soaked every one in 40C water, for about 5 mins before playing. I play Alto and a Selmer S80 D* mouthpiece.

My 0.02$

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OsloSax
 

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I'm into Hemke's now... they seem to work best for me on my Selmer Soloist D.

With a Hemke, 3's my max. Even with a 3 I still get a pretty air-y sound, but really nice tone.

About a week ago, I ran out of Hemke's and I just temporarily started to use a Superial 3 I found laying around... and it was like cutting butter compared to the Hemke 3 lol, but unfortunately... Superials are almost double the price :(
 

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Frank, with me I find Lavoz the best consistent but there are Meds. and Med Hards that are very similar that play good. There are also soft Meds and Hard Med Hards and those are the extremes.
I always used Med Hard but recently got Meds and this has made a difference . Effort is really minimized with the med strength. I use a 7 tip .102

Within there are differences like Dave Dolson says. I wouldn't be able to play a soft or hard reed, I mean I could get sound but I wouldn't be able to play on a good level with articulation etc.
 

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For me, I just pretty much play whatever sounds good. I basically have a good reed box :) that holds my good Hemkes, RJS, Vandoren Blue Box, ZZ, and V16 reeds. To me, they sound pretty much the same. It just depends on how I want to play it.

The sound comes out of the player, not the reed :D. But in terms of hardness, a MH LaVoz or a 3M RJS is good for me (around a Vandoren 2.75).
 

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Well on tenor I never wanted to go below a Vandoren 3 on my .80 tip mpc. On alto I'm finding an RJS 3S is just about right, on a mouthpiece of a tip of .83. But tomorrow I need to find a reed to make my other alto mpc (Brilhart Tonalin) which has a tip of about .85, play well. It sounds ok with a Vandoren 3 but this feels too thick for me to play. And a Vandoren 2.5 just doesn't do it for me. I have a bunch of Ricos and Royal 3's that I plan to try with it tomorrow. I have some RJS reeds but I don't like them on this mpc either. I know Ricos aren't the greatest but if I can get it playing maybe I can seek out something later that is a better alternative. I just want the Tonalin to play easier, without sounding thin and buzzy, and with easier to control intonation.
 

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Reedsplinter is right: the reed strength that seems to sound best on a given mouthpiece is a function of your tip opening and your embouchure.

I use a JodyJazz Custom 6 with medium (3.0, that is) Fibracells. Softer Fibracells sound OK, but then I don't feel like there's any power-on-demand behind them, and it's hard to play percussively (as in punchy R & B type things). Harder Fibracells tire my chops too quickly and sound darker than I want. The 3.0 strength offers the best compromise in power-on-demand, brightness of sound, flexibility of tone, and ease of control - for this mouthpiece and my embouchure.
 
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