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