Home Forums Reeds Non-monogamous Reed Use

This topic contains 10 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  jak Swift 1 year, 9 months ago.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 10 (of 11 total)
  • Author
  • #49102

    Keith Taylor

    Hello, I’m hoping some of the more experienced players here can give me some their insight / opinion on whether you feel it is okay to use the same reed on different mouthpieces with different ligatures. I’ve heard from a few different sources on various YouTube video’s concerning sax playing (don’t remember which ones specifically due to watching A LOT of them) that once you start playing a reed on a particular mouthpiece that they’re pretty much married and you shouldn’t try play them on other mouthpieces.

    So, my questions:

    1.) How many of you don’t believe in letting your favorite reeds run around with other mouthpieces they were not bought for?

    2.) What’s the average life of a 2.5 strength reed that you play in rotation with as many as eight to twelve others for practice that are kept in a reed guard in a pretty consistent environment (my apartment) as far as temp and humidity goes.

    I ask these questions because I recently bought a second mouthpiece (hard rubber T7 V16) and ligature (Rovner Versa). Up until then I had been playing my only other mouthpiece – which is a Jumbo Java T75 with a Rovner Light ligature. So when I got the V16 mouthpiece I started playing my good broken in reeds with it and they seemed to play fine. Then more recently I got the new Versa ligature and noticed that I started squeaking playing things that I normally would have no trouble with playing. I thought it may be the ligature.

    Then, I thought that maybe the reeds may be played out since I’ve been playing one box of 5 in rotation since Feb of last year, and the other and another box of 5 (Rico Jazz Selects 2 Medium) since July, and another box Java Greens since August. The Javas are the ones that seem to be given me the issues – the best ones from the box that I’ve played the most. Whereas the Jazz Selects have been fine. But, I have not yet used the new ligature on them – but have played them on the new V16 piece – which I got for Christmas. So, today I went and bought a new box of my favorites (2.5 Javas) and was amazed how much more air I could put through the horn – particularly in the higher register of the horn – without feeling like the sound would come apart at any second – or that I’d squeak. I can’t wait to get them broken in a little because it was like a whole new world of playing for me.

    But now I’m concerned about playing them on anything but that mouthpiece and with the Versa ligature. I play the V16 the most now anyway due to it giving me more of the sound I want for a project I’m working on, but I like playing the Jumbo Java when I’m wanting to get the brighter and edgier rock / blues sound it has. I hate to have to buy and break in new reeds for each individual mouthpiece, though. I will if I have to, but don’t want to due to the time and expense of doing so.

    I’ve written on the details of what’s going on because I’m trying to figure out if I run the risk of ruining my best reeds by letting them have unsafe sax with mouthpieces they were not meant or bought for.

    Not sure what it is with me and the bad puns tonight – I’m usually not such a pun guy.

    Anyway, I have only been playing sax again for a little over a year now after having not touched it for 10 years, and then another 14 years or so prior to that when I was in middle and high school band. So, I lack experience and knowledge in regards to all this – thus being why I’m asking the more experienced players here.


    jak Swift

    Wow, that’s one lengthy post man.Any tenor reed will fit any tenor mpc. Used or not change them around as you like. Some mpcs are more reed friendly but all in all the problem that has been talked up here a while is the consistency of quality. ( in cane reeds ) and that is why I’m ordering some fibereeds ( see Johnny’s clip ).
    Good that you are rotatating, but to ask the duration of any given reed is a bit of a crapshoot. I can blow out one reed in one session. Another will last weeks. Hope that’s some help. Good luck….jak


    jak Swift

    Green Java are my cane reed of choice #3. I would get the ligature checked out if this squeaking persists. It may not be compatible to the mpc.



    Hi Keith, I’m an amateur alto player and play around 8 hours a week on my sax. I use Vandoren #2 reeds, two at a time, alternating daily between the two. After use I wash and dry the reed and keep them dry in a ventilated tube, within their individual plastic guards. My reeds generally last for many months and when they become too soft for me, I give them to friends who are also learning alto. If one is careful and don’t damage the reed they can last me for 6 months or longer.

    I think the issue for reed-swopping comes down to whether the surface of the reed seals properly on the MP. I have had reeds which clearly show the inside lines of the MP, perhaps I tighten the ligature too much? If the reed is still good and perfectly flat so that it seals, it should be okay IMHO. I’d imagine that people who perform in bands will be working their reeds much harder, so I don’t know if my reed-life experience counts in that regard.


    fair questions Keith but I think these are very unique and personal things that will vary from player to player.
    I’ve never heard anyone talking about not using or using a different reed on a different mp. again, this is going to be one of those things that one guy will not even notice but another may because of the reed or mp and there are way too many variables there.
    regarding reeds, most of my playing over the last 30 years has been Vandoreen Java #3 because they work so well for me with my original Guardala. I’ve had one single reed last me entire tours of 3-4 weeks. those are good reeds but I only get one from every box of five! When I rotate I can go many months with just a few reeds so for me, these have not been a problem with how long they last…just getting one great one in a box of 5 does get expensive



    Hi Keith,
    I’ll tell you what an old mouthpiece maker says

    When someone walks in his shop and wants to try out a new mouthpiece he’s made for them, he can tell the men from the boys. The boys always bring in there favorite reed, whereas the men bring in a brand new unplayed reed.

    I may have only been playing 3 years on the sax and over 40 years on guitar,but my ears are very sensitive, so i am fussy about what a reed sounds like, otherwise i find it very irritating


    Keith Taylor

    Thank you for the insight everybody. And yes, now that I think of it, I realize that it’s impossible to guess how long a reed will last. Time spent playing it and the conditions it is in all factor in. I just want to get as much out of them as possible without messing up their playability. And I hate having to take the time to break in a new box and figure out which ones are worth playing on and which ones need to be thrown away.

    Johnny, the boxes I’ve bought so far has two to three that play well for me. Whereas the box I bought the other day – they all seem to play pretty well – with the exception of one that’s not as bright sounding and a little stuffy playing. At least I think they all play good. Maybe I’ve been playing worn out reeds thinking they were my best reeds for so long that any reed seems like a good one.

    I recently put in an order to WWBW for the new ligature I mentioned and put in an order for one of the hemp Fiberreeds after seeing your video. I do like the bright and buzzy sound it has, but I don’t feel like it plays anywhere close to as well as Java 2.5’s or my Jazz selects. I realize that I likely just can’t get as much out of it as somebody like you can due to lack of experience on my part. But, I was certainly hoping that it would in fact play as well as a good Java green.



    my 2 cents-
    In my observation when I put a reed on a mouthpiece at the start of a practice session (it was stored in the plastic protective case which it came with, and that also let’s it dry in as true a “flat” position as the plastic case is flat), it visibly starts out very straight, but 20min later if you remove the reed and site down it’s edge it will have a bend to it which naturally would be caused by where the face curve of the MP starts. It has “warmed” up and plays well with that “set” that it has taken on.
    Now if I take that warmed up reed directly to another MP, and know that the face curve is measurably a different design, the reed will (to my sensibilities) play with “issues”. Now if I forcefully played long enough so that the reed can take on the “set” of the new curvature? I think perhaps, but my initial impression is that it is not a good choice to be trying on the 2nd MP.
    If I were to put a new reed on or one that was previously played but stored a day or two in it’s flat case onto the 2nd MP, then I hear a noticably different result, which is more favorable. If the face curves of both MP’s are similar in length and curve, then there seems to be nothing of concern.
    I don’t consider myself a veteran player, but being an engineer I have applied myself to learning about the face curve and measurable features of a MP, and have machined a few of my own in the learning process(using a precision 3-axis CNC mill). Hope to have more time as I segway into retirement age to do some more in that respect…


    possibly light sanding the reed’s underside might help.
    at NAMM I had a talk with Mauro, reed expert and ReedGeek creator. who demonstrated how he always starts working on a reed by doing just that. having the reed “table” as it’s called, nice and flat will go a long way in giving the reed a better chance on any mouthpiece you put it on.



    I don’t even bother sanding them down any more, after a new reed has soaked i just rub it on a flat surface for a minute and press my thumb nail down and rub the slanted surface of the reed as flat as possible.

    The fact that i store them in water/mouthwash keeps them soft – so everyone in the box has played perfectly and lasts for several months, on average i buy one box a year . Before that i used mess about with reeds and shorten its life and spend ages waiting for it to warm up on the sax listening to it squeaking, and i was wasting more money buying several boxes of reeds a year.

    imho – its down to how you look after them, and you only need to rotate them if you are playing 10 hours non-stop. Just take the reed off wipe it down and put it back on and carry on playing no need to rotate.


    jak Swift

    The flat table Johnny’s talking about, has to match the facing. If the mpcs you have are new, its doubtful you’ll have any problems. Nothing worse than buying a used mpc, to find the facing is off.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 10 (of 11 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.