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Reeds For Saxophones

Saxophones use a single reed, like clarinets do. Reeds for saxophones are wider than clarinet reeds

. Different sizes of saxophones use different sizes of reeds. For example, alto saxophones use a different sized reeds than baritone saxophones.


Reeds for saxophones are available commercially in a wide array of brands, styles, and strengths. Saxophone players usually experiment with reeds of different hardnesses to find which strength suits his or her mouthpiece and playing style.

The strength of reeds for saxophones are usually measured using a numeric scale that ranges from 1 to 6. There are very few saxophone players that use a reed that is at either end of this spectrum. This scale is not standard between brands, though, and each brand can vary greatly. Sometimes players of saxophones make their own reeds.

This can be done from "blanks", but is very time-consuming and requires expensive equipment and skills that most players of saxophones just do not have. Most players of saxophones adjust their reeds by shaving or sanding them. There are many methods for breaking-in reeds.

The care of reeds for saxophones and the adjustment of them are hot topics among players of saxophones and opinions vary greatly on the subject. Most players of saxophones agree that reeds are somewhat inconsistent and do require maintenance.

Saliva comes in contact with reeds, so that means that they should be rinsed right after playing in order to stifle germs and to prevent saliva from corroding the reed's fibers. If a reed is kept on the mouthpiece for too long, mold can form between the fibers of the reed.

Players of saxophones spend years perfecting their methods of reed selection, storage, and adjustment. Most reeds for saxophones are made from cane. There are synthetic reeds for saxophones that are made from various substances that are really only used by a small number of players of saxophones.

Many players of saxophones consider the synthetic reeds to have poor sound or say that they would consider them for use only in a certain context, like in a marching band

where tone quality is relatively unimportant. It is important to note, though, that synthetic reeds can be more durable than their natural counterparts.


Synthetic reeds for saxophones do not need to be moistened prior to playing and really can be more consistent in quality. There have been recent developments in synthetic reed technology has produced reeds made from synthetic polymer compounds which are gaining increased acceptance among some players of saxopones.

The acceptance of synthetic reeds is especially true for players of saxophones that only use their instruments intermittently and that the length of time between use would cause a natural reed for saxophones to dry out.



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