Reeds and Ligatures

First you get the mouthpiece, then you get the reeds and ligature?  Well, sometimes.  Generally, classical playing means to get a hard reed and somewhat loose ligature and jazz playing means to get a soft reed and somewhat tight ligature.   Which are the best?  Well, for reeds, I bought up the last 20 cases of Vandoren "Jazz Modele" reeds (in the purple PAPER package) for bari a few years ago and they were the best.   The current Vandoren and LaVoz reeds are decent (the least amount of bad reeds per package with the best quality of cane).  I've used the Rico Plasticover for a concert where I was playing Bb clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax and bass clarinet and they were OK -- until the next day when they had warped completely out of shape.  Plastic or plastic/wood mix reeds are not really adequate for most players because most reeds are just a little too hard or soft and need to be adjusted by means of sandpaper (000 grade. Sand the FLAT side) or a reed clipper and the plastic reeds that I've tried (Plasticover and Bari) tend to affect my tone quality -- y'know what those Fisher-Price saxophones sound like?   'Nuff said.  Finally, note that you should go to harder reeds if you're playing classical because you'll like the control (less squeaks) and softer for jazz playing (the squeakiness makes altissimo easier to play -- Benny Goodman used 1 and 1/2 strength reeds), but the harder the reed, the harder to blow.

Ligatures (the thing that holds the reed) should be able to hold the reed securely and evenly against the table (flat part) of the mouthpiece.  Note that you need to have the reed move to produce the sound!  If the ligature is overly tight, you'll get squeaks and have problems producing notes. 

The best kind of ligatures I've seen and used are essentially a band of rubber that has a single screw through the top.  These range widely and wildly in price.

Further reed & ligature resources:
Info and Sales (Rico, Hemke, Grand Concert Select, Mitchell Lurie and LaVoz.  MP and lig. too!) (Tech article on reeds by Dr. Ed Yadzinski) (Reeds & ligatures) (Random music store that sells most lines of reeds) (Another one, just to be fair) (And another ...) (Ligatures) (Ligatures and other stuff)

See also the mouthpiece resources on my Mouthpieces page.  Most of those manufacturers make ligatures and/or reeds.



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