“ Musical Instruments „
To put this review into some kind of context, I should point out that, despite being a regular internet purchaser over the last few years, this is the first time that I have chosen to give feedback of any variety on the service that I have received: I certainly don't make a habit of complaining! The service that I have received from Reeds Direct this week, however, has left me peeved, and motivated me to write this review.
Whilst browsing the Reeds Direct website, I was drawn to the 'Sale Stock' tab at the top of the home page. In this section, I spotted a deal for ten Reeds Australia Tenor Saxophone reeds for the attractive price of £7.13, with free delivery. I'm aware that Reeds Australia have been re-branded as Razzco, and assumed that this was the reason for the reeds being sold off.
I duly placed the order, and promptly received an e-mailed invoice, confirming '10 per box'. The reeds themselves arrived within two days, which was very quick.
Unfortunately, I had been sent a box of five reeds. I called Reeds Direct to explain the problem, and spoke to a lady (whose name I took but won't use here), who was confused because apparently these reeds do indeed come in packs of five: she felt that 'The Owner' must have made a mistake when uploading the details on to the website. I explained that the reason that I had decided to purchase was because of their attractive 'sale' price - I would have bought my regular reeds otherwise. She told me that she, herself, had not checked my particular order as she would have spotted the error, and would have to speak to 'The Owner' about the problem, adding; 'You know what owners are like'. I'm still not sure what she meant by this!
I was told that she would call me back, if not that day, then the following one. I didn't receive her call, so three days later 'phoned back to see if the problem had been resolved. She told me that she had spoken to 'The Owner', who told her that it was a mistake, but he felt that the reeds 'were too cheap anyway'!
Slightly bemused by this, I told her that I wasn't really concerned if , in hindsight, 'The Owner' felt that he had priced his goods too cheaply, and that I was in possession of an invoice showing that ten reeds had been dispatched.
She said; 'He said you might say that' (so at least 'The Owner' was aware that his opening gambit was not likely to promote good customer service), and that if I did, she was just to send out another packet of five reeds.
Now, I completely appreciate that genuine mistakes can be made - but there was no dispute that an error had been made, and it could have been dealt with very quickly by popping the outstanding reeds in the post. I would have been a happy customer.
Instead, I had to phone back, and it appears that the lady who had been dealing with me had been given the task of trying to convince me that the advertised deal, for which I had been invoiced, was unfair!
Incidentally, the 'Sale' page was quickly amended to show five reeds at a price that 'The Owner' now considers to be reasonable! Suffice to say that there are plenty of alternative retailer from whom I can buy reeds, and Reeds Direct (and the mysterious 'Owner') have lost my custom!
** reeds-direct.com **
Coming from a very musical family of which I am the least gifted we often need to buy musical accessories. My Uncle Leicester is a keen clarinet player and I dabble badly. Though what I really fancy trying is the saxophone but I haven't plucked up the courage to buy am alto sax yet.
Both my uncle and myself buy reeds on line. He has the more manly strength ones where as I use the weedy 1 1/2 reeds which is about all I can cope with :o) one of the places we buy reeds from is reeds-direct as they are usually carry the items we order in stock. I tend towards the cheaper end of the market like Rico reeds which are almost always in stock anyway as they are so popular.
Ordering for the first time is not entirely straight forward because before you can process your order you have to sign up to the website. You sign up by giving them your email address and creating a user name and a password. This is OK if you use the site all the time but just for once I would like to buy something on line without having to sign up for it.
Return visits to the site are less trouble as you just sign in and then browse the site to find the reeds and woodwind items you want and add them to a virtual shopping basket. The site is well laid out with clear headings for items pertaining to various instruments so it is quite easy to navigate to the item you want. The sections include all the different types of clarinet and saxophone plus their accessories.
All the prices on reeds-direct include VAT and 1st class postage so there are no extra costs to worry about. I've used reeds-direct a number of times now and have never had any problems with the company. Orders usually arrive 3 or 4 days after I've ordered them but longer if I order just before a weekend.
Over all reeds-direct is a good competent site that I will keep returning to but sometimes a can find cheaper reeds by doing a google search so it is always worth checking the current prices at other shops before ordering.
Thanks for reading my review.
As some of you may have noticed I am a keen internet shopper - I hate shopping in person with a passion so find it much better to shop online.
I am also a keen musician playing clarinets and saxophones.
One of the bits of kit that is necessary for playing the clarinet and saxophone are reeds - the bits that vibrate and make a sound.
Where do I buy these? Normally Reeds direct.co.uk
What are they?
They are a music shop in Cambridge which runs an internet business selling, reeds and other musical items.
What brands do they sell?
All the major ones - Vandoren, Rico, Grand Concert, Legere - the list goes on.
They also sell accessories ranging from music stands to sheet music, to pull throughs and cleaning clothes. I have never been to the store in Cambridge but am reliably informed that it stocks a good range of instruments too.
This is very easy to navigate and you can either search using key words or if you are a registered customer they remember what you have bought in the past and you can re-order very quickly!
The site is secure and they accept payment from credit and debit cards. If you prefer you can call them up and pay over the telephone.
It is immediately clear what items are in stock and you will be told if there is a delay on an item. If you would like a slightly more obscure item then call them and they can normally get it for you fairly quickly.
Delivery of items
This is free on all items - most of the time anyway - I normally order a box of reeds which comes to over £10 anyway. The items are packed in a jiffy bag and sent to your address by Royal Mail. If you are ordering reeds they will fit through your letter box so you don't need to worry about waiting in for a parcel.
If you need to return an item you should pay to do this. Royal Mail is fine. On one occasion Reeds direct sent me the wrong item - I dropped them a line by phone, they sent a prepaid envelope and I returned the item that way without paying. They also sent my replacement (correct item) for free.
Extremely helpful on the rare occasion that you actually get a problem with the website. As described above I ordered bass clarinet reeds and was sent ones for the contrabass clarinet which didnt fit. The company could not have been more helpful - apologising and sorting out the issue quickly and efficiently!
All important I guess - these are very competitive - prices range depending on what you are buying but are very competitive - I paid £12 for 10 Rico Grand bass clarinet reeds last time and £14 for a Legere plastic reeds - these prices are both very reasonable.
If you play woodwind instruments I would thoroughly recommend this website for quick service and excellent prices.
Reeds Direct of Cambridge are an on-line music shop which provides reeds and spares for both clarinet and saxophone, plus other reeded instruments.
It isn't simply a place where musicians can buy these essential items. There is a lot of information available on reed types, strengths and pliability. This on-line store stocks a huge variety of brands and qualities, from very basic beginners reeds to high priced concert specialist varieties.
Brand names like Alexander, Rico, Sinus, Xilema and Zonda, among others, are all available here. You can also get a good selection of plastic coated reeds in various strengths which I find very useful because it is often difficult to find these in all the different strengths.
If you don't play a clarinet, or saxophone, and have no one to buy these for, there may still be something of interest to you in the new music shop which is an extension of this site :
Here you will find a selection of musical instruments, new and second-hand, plus accessories, sheet music and spare parts.
The reed site is an excellent site and the service is very good. Once you have made your choice and paid for it, delivery is very fast. I ordered clarinet reeds on Monday last week and had them by Tuesday. It probably takes a day or two longer with larger items, though.
Prices are very good and reeds are available in singles, or packets, so that you can try new strengths out to see it they suit you.
The extension of the online reed sales business to include a whole music shop is very useful if you are a musician, or have one in the family. Prices all round are competitive and service is excellent.
If you are running short on either clarinet or saxophone reeds, then this is the place to go, unless you have a really good music shop round the corner and you are happy with the reeds you use and you don't want to experiment, not even just to see what other reeds might be like, that you might not even know exist, and that might enhance the sound you make on your instrument and make people swoon.
+++What's if got?+++
It doesn't just cater for bog-standard instruments like Bb clarinet and alto and tenor saxes, it goes to anything likely and some that are very rare: Reeds Direct will supply you with reeds for:
E flat clarinet, B flat clarinet (A clarinets can use the same reeds), alto clarinet, bass clarinet and pedal (contrabass) clarinet. (This last one is a fabulously rare beast that I happened to see for only the second time in my life last night, watching a new opera called the Minotaur.);
and sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and the similarly very rare bass saxophone.
+++Choices of reeds+++
For each instrument there is about as wide a choice of reed as you can get. You might think that if you were a pedal clarinet player there would only be one reed because they wouldn't probably sell like hot cakes, but, lo and behold! you have a choice of three. To find out more about what the different reeds are like, you click on the name, and up comes a list with descriptions of how the reed is made and how it plays. This is vital information. They supply reeds from Alexander, Superial, Double cut, Classique, AW, A&W, Bari, Bari Plastic, Daniel's, Fibracell, Hemke, La Voz, Legere, Mitchell Lurie Standard and Premium, Reeds Australia Vintage, Vintage XL and Studio Plus, Rico, Rico Jazz Select, Rico Grand Concert Select, Plasticover, Rico Royal, Sinus Model F, Vandoren Traditional, V12, Java, V16, 56 Rue lepic, German Cut White Master and Black Master, Xilema, and Zonda, among others.
Also of prime importance is getting reeds of the right strength. This varies according to instrument, style of music, playing experience, stamina and personal taste. To start with, most players will have taken advice from their teacher, or if they don't have a teacher will have gone for a relatively soft (1 to 2) reed to start with. Where it can get confusing is if you switch between brands, as they are not all graded on the same scale, or even with the same numbers that indicate strength. However, most reeds are supplied in strengths from 1.5 up to 4.5, with some starting at 1, and others going to 5.5 or 5++, but to make sense of this you need to look at the comparison chart (see next paragraph).
This is where Reeds Direct really helps by offering to send you a brochure to browse through. Now you might think that's a bit like having a brochure on spark plugs or cooking oil, but this is really interesting to read, so it's worth getting. There is a big chart on which you can compare the strengths of the various makes of reeds. There is also some excellent advice on how to care for the reeds once you have them, and help them to last for a long time. I think this would be really helpful to include on the website.
The costs of reeds are competitive. No point quoting, as you can have a look and it will change over time. I like the fact that costs include postage, as it always annoys me to be seduced by an attractive offer and then get stung in the tail by high P & P charges. If you order five boxes of reeds, then the prices come down a bit, so if you play, for example, clarinet and two or three saxes, then you might as well stock up for the future and save in the long term. Reeds have a pretty good shelf life.
Ordering is easy-peasy. Click away until you're happy then press the magic button. If you do this by 2 p.m. they say they will post it that day. Payment is by credit card, and the site encrypts details securely. I have not found them on Ebay. Postage is 1st class, so you usually get it the next day. Every order I have made through Reeds direct has got to me the next possible day, and has always been packed accurately. You can talk on the phone - they give a free 0800 number - and contact them by e-mail too.
+++Anything else apart from reeds?+++
As well as reeds, you can also buy lots of useful clarinet and saxophone accessories, such as reed guards, cleaning swabs, ligatures, reed cutters and other goodies. I've not had any of these, but guess that they would be sent just as efficiently.
The bane of a woodwind player's life is the quest for decent accessories, and, in particular, assuming that you're not a flautist, reeds. If you are a beginner then your local music shop is likely to stock most of what you require but if you are a better player or if you play one of the less popular instruments (soprano sax or Eb clarinet for example) then your local music shop is unlikely to be of much help. This is not so much of an issue if you live in London (or I assume the other large English cities) or if you happen to live near to one of the specialist music shops. If, however, like many, you don't you have an issue.
Removing the geographical boundaries is one of the best things in my opinion about the internet. I don't have to wait for a catalogue to be sent to me and I don't have to travel miles to find that the item I require is out of stock. I simply find an online retailer and away I go.
Reeds Direct is one of the larger online purveyors of things woodwind. They specialise in reeds but do sell other relevant accessories such as cleaners, pad guards and the like. Although the range of accessories is not huge they do seem to stock items that are hard to obtain elsewhere which is useful. Their mainstay is, however, reeds.
Almost all of the known makes of reeds are stocked or obtainable through Reeds Direct. The more obscure reeds such as Sinus reeds take longer to get (and this is noted on the site) but the website claims that orders placed by 2pm will often result in same-day posting of the goods from the store.
I can find that ordering from a website is a little impersonal and I like to think that there is actually some physical presence behind a business, particularly when ordering things that are expensive. Reeds Direct offer comfort here in that they have a physical shop in Cambridge (why were they not around when I was in Cambs?!) and so, if there were any real problems, I feel that I would have somewhere to follow up.
The website is fairly easy to navigate. It's not the kind of website that you'd visit for fun and, to be honest, it looks more like an electronic catalogue than an internet portal. Having said that, reeds are not really that exciting (unless you're a real woodwind anorak). All of the reeds on sale have a bit of blurb about them, should you not know what you are looking for although this is really not much more than the maker's sales blurb and won't help you if you have no idea at all. Annoyingly this is contained in a separate page from the order form/list of products and it takes you away from the order page but gives you no easy link back (other than your back button). I have found that, when navigating this way, I can end up losing products that I have already selected and put in my basket meaning that it can take several attempts to get all of the goods in the basket.
Reeds come in many different strengths and if you omit the strength then a useful pop up tells you to select which strength you want and won't let you navigate away before you have done this. If you're not sure which strength reed you need (and they vary enormously between makes) there's not much to help you. You'd be best googling the reed make to see if you can find someone who says how hard/soft they come up (eg Vandoren V12s play about ½ a strength softer than the standard Vandoren reeds).
Once goods are in the basket you'll go to a very standard checkout screen that requires you to sign in (if you've been before) or to sign up (if you are a new customer). If you are a new customer then it's not immediately obvious how you do sign up. In fact, the only way I found to do it was to click the "sign in" radio button, leaving the email and password fields blank. This then took you to a standard sign up page. This is far from intuitive and I feel the site may well lose customers at this point (or at least cause them to pick up the phone and make a telephone order (which thankfully is possible)). Also, if you are a previous customer but enter an incorrect password you'll be sent to the sign up screen rather than being told that the password is wrong. Rather time wasting and annoying.
Payment via all major credit cards is accepted and taken through secure channels.
Postage and packing is included in all prices stated and so there are no hidden extras. I like this as I can easily see the order cost from the offset. Prices on the site are, in general below RRP but it does pay to check at the time of ordering.
OK. So, do they deliver?
Well, yes they do, but, unfortunately not quite as quickly as the website would have you believe and not without some annoying hassle that could so easily have been sorted out quickly.
My last order was placed at around 8am on a Tuesday. The site states that orders placed before 2pm will be dispatched by first class mail on the same day. Come the Friday I'd still not received anything and was about to call them when an email came through - they'd had difficulty entering my credit card details and so were asking me to resubmit the order on the site and then they would delete the original order. This was just a tad annoying for a number of reasons. First, it was time consuming to do, but, second, the site requires you to enter a phone number - why had they not just called to say that there was an issue, taken my credit card number, and processed the order on the Tuesday? They do have a physical shop so it's not that they don't have a credit card machine or staff to do that. I'm not sure why they ask for a phone number if they are incapable of using it!
So, I resubmitted my order before 2pm on the Friday and waited... my reeds arrived on the following Wednesday. So, for a site that says same day dispatch (and I'd expect the mail to be through within 2 working days for first class) I'm not that impressed as it took over a week to get my order. If I was in a rush for the goods then I'd have been upset.
The goods arrived packaged in a jiffy bag and otherwise sealed as though you'd bought them straight from the shop. The invoice was included in the package. No mention was made of the "cancelled" order and so I'll be checking my credit card statement very carefully when it comes as I'm not paying twice.
In summary I found the site to be functional but no more and the delivery to be poor given the expectations of the site. I do think, though, that a week for an order is adequate and so will happily order from here again - I'd just urge them to remove the quick delivery expectation from the site as it only leads to disappointment. I found that the prices were very favourable when compared to other retailers but it's disappointing that you can only buy complete boxes of reeds rather than single reeds as you could in a shop - this means that it's not an ideal way to try out a new type of reed. If they offered a single reed service I'm sure that they'd get loads of customers as there are very few places which stock, let alone sell, individual speciality reeds.
If I owned the business I'd really work on the website, making it more intuitive and user friendly. There's a lot of potential here but I guess also a lot of inertia as wind players need reeds and so will buy irrespective of the site.
Recommended with a wait.