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Home Alt Forums Reeds After nearly a year of searching, I found a winner.

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      I hate to ramble, but I am pretty thrilled about this. I really wouldn’t call this a review, but maybe more so a testimony.

      So, about a year ago, I began hunting for a reed to stick with and get my money’s worth out of. I was tired of buying a box of Vandoren’s, only to get one, maybe two good reeds out of the box. It was a waste of money. I know this is not a brand new topic, and this has been brought up many of times, but it’s an important part of our sound, and here is my opinion after a lot of experimenting.

      I think since I played a cane reed since grade school, I had the mindset that “it’s the only real reed out there”. I flirted with one of the earlier “plastic” reeds for marching band, and it would play, but it was terrible overall in regards to tone. So, I became biased and always leaned towards natural cane reeds from that point on. A lot has changed in 10 years, and synthetic reeds are now incredibly resembling the natural cane reeds one may be accustomed to.

      I tried a Legere’ Reed earlier this year, and it was an improvement from the plastic reed I had 10+ years ago. But, to be bluntly, for me, it still played like crap. It was too unnatural of a feeling for me. I tried several brands of cane reeds, and I kept going back to my “green box”. But then I decided to try something else out.

      Boom, night and day, hands down, the best reed I have ever played was the Henry Hartmann’s Fiberreed. I just bought a carbon onyx from Johnny, and I am blown away from this. There is no “break in” period, there is no soaking before hand, simply, I popped it on the mouthpiece and began playing. Immediately, I can play better in regards to ease in going from multiple ranges, from low B flat, to high F#. I noticed an improvement in regards to the dynamics of my tone, with the ranges of playing crescendo, decrescend, piano, forte, etc improving drastically. This really has opened my ability to express myself through the horn, which is the reason I play, to make art. The intonation has been dead on. The responsiveness of it has been flawless for me.

      I threw together a quick recording of it being used on my horn with one of Johnny’s background tracks, Winter Wonderland.

      I am not going to make claims saying this reed will make you a professional in the matter of seconds, as I am nothing close to a professional musician myself, but I do believe this reed can be a tool to make your playing easier, and much less frustrating both financially and mentally. Less struggle with the setup of your horn means more time to focus on studies to improve your ability. I feel it is now one less thing I have to worry about when I want to jam out. I know not everyone likes this sort of reed, but, if you were in the same boat as I am, for $20, it’s worth a try.

      Some of us won’t think twice to spend a few grand on a good horn, a few hundred on a nice mouthpiece, but when it comes to the reed, I feel a lot of us overlook the importance of having a quality reed, I know I have for years. It’s worth looking into honestly. Definitely not something you can knock if you haven’t tried it. Thanks for sharing this product with me Johnny, I am extremely pleased.

      I am just really mind blown about it. Thanks for taking the time to “reed” about this. 🙂

      brother cavefish

        here are many great reeds, the onyx has it place, a little buzzy and bright for me, , but many good reeds out there ,,personally i prefer the cane, it just sounds better to me , it it definitely a journey each one of my mouthpieces work with a different reed,


          Well played Louis,( thought I was listening to Johnny for a moment) it sounded great. Regarding the reeds I agree with you
          I bought the Hartman hemp reed months ago and it is still going strong, then I bought the carbon onyx like the one you used in the demo, love them both, last week bought a box of ZZ cane reeds just to see if I was “missing” anything with the cane and I can honestly say I am not.


            I can see where you’re coming from Brother Cavefish. So far this reed has worked well on my SYOS and my Otto Link Tonemaster. I feel I still get a warmer, darker, vintage jazz tone on the Link with the new reed still, but it is still slightly brighter than a cane reed. I’d be curious what the other Hartmann reeds would sound like on it for the heck of it. Might be something I’ll try in the near future.

            And thanks a lot Pete, that is quite a compliment! When you got the hemp reed, and then the onyx reed, did you notice any difference in the playability with the consistency of the strength between the two? I wouldn’t mind giving the hemp a try. I really don’t think I will be buying cane reeds anytime soon.


              Louis I prefer the hemp reed of the two, I think you will like the sound and ease of playing the hemp but hey why change you have a very nice sound, I would stay with it.
              The carbon onyx is a little brighter IMO.


                great track Louis, you sound really good.
                haha, I woke up this morning with my onyx in mind cause yesterday I noticed it chipped (yes this is the 2nd one).
                I will make another video update regarding these reeds cause they’re kinda new for me as well.

                as for your testimony and thoughts on them…I couldn’t agree with you more!
                Vandoren java have been the best reeds for me over the last 20-30 years and now I just play the onyx.
                are they better than that perfect java I get in a box? No, but they’re so responsive, give me the sound I want (which is full and bright) and I don’t spend any more time soaking, testing, soaking, filing etc etc…
                an onyx has averaged me around 10 months and they’re under 20 bucks.

                brother cavefish

                  10 months , something to say right,,,,yea the Javas are sweet, i have got into rico select unfiled too,, the vandoran trad for real dark, the hemp one might be worth trying,,, for me each one of my MPs need a different reed the woodstone like Java, the Gerber likes V16, and the refaced otto likes Select,, my 10mfans well we will see

                  Robert Frederick


                    What kind of mouthpiece and ligature do you use on this demo?

                    My Black Onyx plays perfect out of the box and then can get buzzy or stiff with time. I am thinking it is my ligature.

                    Dr. Bob


                      Great recording!! I too am a synthetic carbon onyx user. Again, not for everyone but after years of various canes I love these things. I hated Legeres, stiff and horrible to me. I actually played on Fibracells before switching over. I am horrible to my reeds. Leave them on my horn on the stand. Pick em up and go when I play. After a couple of minutes warm up, good to go in my opinion. Love how they just respond to me right away. Also, the altissimo is easier for me with these reeds too. I have a hemp reed and way more subtle sounding as compared to the loudness and brightness of the onyx. Not a hemp fan, again, it personal choice. It’s a great feeling when ya get a go to setup!! Keep Rockin!!


                        Legere was my first try at synthetics and I didnt like it ( made a video on it which still might be in the blog section)
                        Fibracells were better, by that I mean felt closer to a cane reed but it wasn’t until I tried the Fiberreeds that were good enough to leave the cane behind.

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