April 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm #8911
I have heard that plastic reeds exist for tenor sax (and plasticised reeds?). Surfing the net gives opinions that are about 10 years old. In the meantime technology has moved forward. Does anyone know what the status of plastic reeds is at the moment? Does anyone have recent experience?
DolphApril 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm #10107
Yes, they make plastic reeds for all the saxes, not just tenor. It's a tempting thing to try because if you can find a plastic reed that works for you it'll last a really long time because they don't break or wear out so fast like cane reeds.
Problem I found is that they just don't feel as good, or give you as good a sound. Mind you, last time I gave them a try was over 10 years ago so to your question, has there been any improvements in the technology, I don't know. I will find out but kinda doubt it since I haven't seen or heard of any great recommendations and none of my pro friends use them.
The plastic coated ones seemed a bit better as these are actual cane but covered with a thin type of plastic coating.
The ones that are 100% plastic don't behave like cane… I remember hitting an aggressive high note (altisimo) and the plastic reed just split and broke. Since that kind of playing is a lot of what I do there is no way I could use them.
I would buy a few and try them out if you never have and are curious enough… you never know until you do, plus there is a chance they have been making them a little more like real reeds..
Here's a search page I found, Rico is still the #1 producers for the plasticover reeds but also scroll down further and check out the other ones called Fibracell. I've never tried them but they're not cane or plastic.
If you do try any of these please share your experiences, it would be very interesting.May 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm #10119
Someone already played with the Légère reed ? Guys told me it is a kind of synthetic reed (I think it's plastic) and the sound quality is very good.
MorenoOctober 4, 2011 at 5:22 am #10161
Just a few thoughts on the plastic reeds. I was a huge fan of Plasticover Reeds for years. My Band Director was cool with those (he plays Sax) and this was some 28 years ago. Since that time, many seem against them. I like them but found that they have become increasingly harder to use for a long period of time. And they soften up quicker – probably since I'm getting older.
That said, I tried a bunch of different plastic reeds and here's what I found:
*BARI Associates: To me, these felt like playing on a piece of glass. Also, my chops were in pain afterwards.
*Fibracell: The sound was pretty good, but not easy to play for long periods of time. If I went back to another type of reed during a practice session, it was difficult to get a good tone.
*Plasticover: I've used them for years but they seem to get softer faster.
*Légère: These are my new favorites! There's something different about these reeds that I'll try to explain. They are plastic, but have the feel of cane. They play instantly and if you're playing an open mic or have to sit out for a while, you don't need to suck the reed again to get it to lay flat (as you would with cane or plasticover). They cost quite a bit, but they last for months AND sound great. I like the Signature or the Studio Cut versions and just bought one last week after playing on a Signature for several months. Worth a try!
Obviously everyone and every setup and skill level is different and unique, so you'll have to see what works for you. I play on a Cannonball Tenor, with a Jody Jazz Classic mouthpiece. I can hit lows and highs and altissimo with relative ease. I'm not an expert and I play as often as possible in Open Mics and Sit-In with my professional Jazz Cat Friends. So, my advice to you is to try them out one-at-a-time. I'm not a paid endorser, but I did send them a nice email about my experience with their reeds and the Légère VP of Sales responded personally.October 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm #10163
Thanks for that Chazz, a very comprehensive reply. Much appreciated. I will give the Legere a go in the near future.December 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm #10195
I was a month ago in Washington D.C. area, and had the privilege to meet Perry Conticchio http://www.myspace.com/perryconticchio/ in the L&L music store of Gaithersburgh (http://www.llmusicshop.com/). Perry spent over 2 hours with me, helping me getting closer to the sound I have in mind, and among various things we spoke also about plastic reeds.
He recommended me the Legere reeds, and he played with one of them to me. Indeed there is very little difference from wood ones … the major disadvantage being the price … The Legere are not "pressed" or "fused" but instead are manufactured in such a way that their fibers are very close to the ones of real wood. Infact, you can even "suck" through them like the wood reeds.
The advantage of plastics is that you do not need to soak them, and according to Perry (that teached me great things also on how to "prepare" the reed) with Legere one looses no more than 10% in sound quality (whatever it means …).
So far I did not tried it out yet myself ( I kind of keep it as "reserve" in extreme situations) but on all other tips that Perry teached me I am totally happy …
My horn is a Yamaha 62, I play with Otto Link 5* and usually with Vandoren Jazz 3.
Hope it helps, if so you can thank Perry from Luca 🙂December 26, 2011 at 11:28 am #10196
My teacher has recommended Fibracell reeds over Legere. This is based on his experience. He's ordered a couple for me to try on my tenor & soprano. I'll let you know what I think when I've had them long enough.
Of course I will only be able to compare them with the cane reeds that I have…
CheersDecember 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm #10197
Yes, let us know how they work out Alan. I have a Legere but have not tried the Fibracel yet. The Legere are playable and worth having as a spare or back up but they don't compare to a nice-working cane reed.January 9, 2012 at 11:05 am #10227
Well, I got the Fibracells on Saturday & used them for my lesson. I gotta say I'm impressed! Like I said before, I have no experience with Legere, so I can't compare the two plastic varieties, but I can with cane – really happy. They played so effortlessly and with good tone.
If you are thinking of getting Fibracell, the one thing to keep in mind is that you should go for one size up from the canes that you're used to playing. e.g. I play 2.5 cane, so my teacher got the 3.0 Fibracell for me. Good move!
My problem now is that I still have a heap of cane reeds to use up!
AlJanuary 10, 2012 at 12:35 am #10228
Thanks Alan, that's just the opposite from the Legere because they are harder so recommended to go a size lower.December 6, 2012 at 9:32 am #10540
I have just gone back on to Legere (from Reeds Direct uk there about the cheapest) and really like it. the Rico cane 2.5 was really too hard for me my bottom lip was sore, and plus I went through a stage of damaging so many reeds, you know bending down to pick something up the tip just touches your head,,, oh no theres another reed gone.
So I bought a Legere 2 , had it for a month now its so easy to play and no sore lip. It does get a little tired after about 45min it isn’t perfect but what is. Another plus for me is I can wash it.
Soon be Christmas, if I’m good and practice Santa might bring me a 2.5
hey 64 years old and still believe in Santa
CheersDecember 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm #10552
Hi Johnny ..
I’ve been learning the sax now for about 8 weeks and using a 2.5 Vandoren reed on my alto .( What’s that saying where angel’s fear to tread fools rush in ) The problem is my bottom lip is red raw , I’ve got to say it looks more like an allergy to the reed . Tonight I’ve tried swapping it for a plastic covered Rico 2.5 and although my lip is still sore from last night it doesn’t feel any worse . Would appreaciate your thoughts on the matter .
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