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Getting the right reed is key to have success playing the saxophone. These particular plasticover reeds are perfect for practice and young players.
Most reeds are literally wood thats been shaven over and over to create a thin shape that vibrates when the saxophone is blown into, and therefore split very easily if not taken care of. Plastic reeds can be knocked on the ends and dont split, they can be left wet and not warp, they are very long lasting so one box at over £20 is an investment for a long time.
Young saxophonists are prone to breaking their reeds as they tend to either chew on them or forget they are attached and so bash them against various surfaces. These reeds are perfect for younger players as they can leave them on their mouthpiece and parents dont need to worry about them getting broken.
In terms of sound quality, its not the most beautiful of sounds, you dont get the depth of sound and its all very one level. If you are at home practicing this is fine, but if you are either performing in public or solo its better to get a wooden reed. They do however blend in well if you are playing in some sort of band where you dont play alone, and since they last so long they can be used for a whole terms worth of rehearsals without having to change to a new reed.
The box is quite small and has the Rico brand name written across it, you can also choose the strength of reed depending on your standard or mouth strength. Make sure you also buy the reed for either tenor or alto saxophone. I find that good stockists are sax.co.uk or ackermann music.
I have used these reeds for marching band on the Tennor Sax. I think they are perfect for marching band, but not concert, jazz, or symphony band. It just makes the sound quality of the insturment less. It takes a little more for these reeds to chip, therefore, they last longer. I also play clarinet, and there are plastic reeds for that also. Pretty much, for any single reed insturment, there are plastic reeds or "marching reeds". I have had these reeds chip only because they do not come with a case. Using an old reed case is a good idea for storing these reeds. The plastic cover is barely noticible, unless you are looking at it. (It is black).
So, if you want to sound great for concert, jazz, or symphony band, use regular wood reeds. If you are marching outside and have others to mask your sound, use these reeds.
Alto Saxophone Reeds (2.5)
Woodwind instruments use reeds attached to the mouthpiece by various means, on saxophones it is a ligature that does the attaching.
Reeds are generally made of cane and come in various 'strengths' from 1 to 5 (softest to hardest), this strength varies greatly from make to make, type to type, manufacturer to manufacturer, though there are some useful comparison sites on the internet which help understand these differences.
Generally speaking, the softer the reed the easier it is to use, particularly in mid range notes, as it is more malleable. The harder the reed the more the mouth and lip muscles need to work (embouchure). Now many saxophonists find that they move rapidly up to harder reeds, almost like a rite of passage, mainly because the harder reeds tend to work better in the higher register and produce 'crisper' notes (especially when playing fast), bit of a jazz thing methinks. Charlie Parker used a number 5 apparently, the hardest reed.
Recently some manufacturers of reeds introduced plastic coated cane reeds, initially for use by outdoor players as the plastic coating makes the reed less susceptible to temperature and moisture changes. However, there are a fair few musicians including myself that prefer plastic covered reeds all the time......why?
Before I go on, I have not gone bonkers with the spelling, it is a trademark.
I used to use plain cane reeds, but found a number of problems:
1. By the time I had got them 'right' or broken them in, it seemed to be a short time before they were 'over done' and needed replacing.
2. The variation between reeds and in the life cycle of the reed made it very difficult for me, as a beginner, to achieve a consistent sound.
3. The cane reeds are just too fragile, or I am just too clumsy.
4. I have a 'heavy' embouchure which means I denigrate reeds very quickly.
So, my teacher suggested that I try the plastic coated reeds and immediately, though I started on one of the softest options (number 1.5's) I found an immediate difference. They seemed to play straight from the box, they did not need and dampening, any wearing in or any fiddling with at all.
I found that the plastic coated reeds were more robust, and felt more solid when playing. Almost immediately my dread of High D, High D sharp and High E notes disappeared. I felt more confident in the higher register, literally, within minutes.
Finally, longevity. A cane reed used to last me between 4 and 5 weeks, the plastic coated ones last me at least 8 weeks.
I moved up to the 2.5's about three months ago and feel I will probably stay at this level as the music I am playing is 'working' with these reeds, so, if it aint broken, don't fix it.
This particular make (Rico) is one of the best known brands, but not the only brand, like the last point, these are working for me so I have no intention of changing, though I have friends that use other brands and are just as happy with them.
These come in a small cardboard box which contains five reeds, each housed in protective plastic sheaths. The box is clearly marked for what type of sax and strength of reed (all wind instruments use slightly different size and/or shaped reeds).
Box of 5 are between £11 and £12 depending on where bought, this is nearly double what you can pay for ordinary cane reeds, but it is not just that they last twice as long that makes them worth buying. For me, it is the ease of use of taking out of the box and playing with them straight away. I have been using plastiCOVER for well over a year and have never had one dud reed; I had plenty with straight cane.
So I would recommend these, though us saxophonists are a funny lot, generally, players are pretty loyal to their own brand, but hey, it don't hurt to give them a try.
More information on these reeds on the makers website, which is pretty good as it also has a section on who uses what reeds..........did I just say that? What a geek!!
Coated with plastic to resist changes in moisture and climate. Coating provides durability and clear tone.