In my years of playing saxophone, the most frustrating thing has been finding a good reed to play. Each shinny package I buy promises wonderful range, dynamics and tone. After sanding, clipping, soaking and cursing (more than necessary) I usually end up with some reeds that play “okay”. It has never been much fun.
And, in desperation I tried alternatives. Closest I got to something that was workable are the Rico Plasticovers. The tone is not the best and the fact that they are black make them very difficult to place on a mouthpiece. Not sure about the chemicals in the coating either. But, I have gone though more that a few packages. And they are “okay” enough.
A few weeks ago I ordered a (yes “a” ... one reed at a time) Légère Signature Reed. Just to spoil the rest of this review: I was immediately impressed.
The reeds look like they are made from clear plastic. But, if you go and visit the Légère website you'll find that the material is pretty special. And, no, they are not extruded ... they are manufactured using CNC technology.
And they are not cheap. About $30 a pop (shop around for discounts).
But, really, who cares about cost and how they are made. We just want to play! And these little guys play!
I'm finding that I can go from low Bb right up to my limited altissimo range with no effort. Clear and consistent.
I think there are a lot of players out there who really believe that old fashioned cane is better. I think they are pretty much wrong.
The reeds come in three different flavors: standard, studio and signature. I tried a standard and found it a bit stiff for my liking, but if you are after a more classical sound you may prefer these. I am currently enjoying the signature cut since they seem to be a bit more responsive.
Oh, and before I forget to mention ... the customer service at Légère is amazing. I ordered a #2 strength reed and found it a bit on the soft side. So, I sent it back using their “trade in” program (see their website) and got back a 2.25 reed in about a 10 days. Over Christmas. And if you have a specific question, fire an email off to firstname.lastname@example.org for quick and detailed answers.
In an earlier version of this mini-review I suggested that the reeds didn't last all that long. I think I was wrong! After letting the reed I thought was dead have rest I tried it again. And, it was great.
I do find that the reeds are very sensitive to being positioned correctly on the mouthpiece. If you aren't getting the sound you want, try moving it up or down a little bit.
So, what happened? The reed certainly didn't “restore itself”. Nor did my mouthpiece change. Nor did I change enough to make a difference. But, one thing did change ... my ligature. Yup. Even though I'd pretty much moved to the “it's a clamp” camp, I think (now) that for certain reed/mouthpiece (and player) combinations they can make a significate difference. The one I'm using now is a cheap Chinese knockoff (less than five bucks on ebay). And it works wonderfully, especially with the Légère.
More updates! I'm still using the same reed ... several months of playing. I have [Q discovered] one interesting trick: if you get a spitty sound put a very small amount of cork grease on the back of the reed where it lays on the mouthpiece. I've been told that my mouthpiece could be out of level, but it's been checked and is flat. So, honestly, I don't know what's going on. But, this trick works.
So, now I have well over two months of play on a single reed (about an hour per day). It's going strong. I really suggest you try Légère. Let me know your thoughts.
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