Sunday, 4 September 2016

Saxophone Basics - Which reed should I use?

Once you have found a saxophone to hire, it is important that you have a good reed to use. Often the company that you rent your saxophone from will supply you with your first reed. 

What is a reed?

A reed is a piece of cane, finely cut in a rectangular shape and calved with a groove that tappers towards the one side. The graduation of the thickness of the reed determines the size of the reed (eg. size 1, size 2 etc).

Which brand should I use?

While there are quite a few brands, and types of reeds available online and in shops in Cape Town, the most common are Rico Royal and Vandoren.

I usually recommend that beginners start on a size 1.1/2 Rico Royal reed. It is softer and cheaper than Vandoren reeds. Since the player shouldn't be on this low size for too long, it's not worth spending too much money on your first reed. As the player's mouth muscles develop strength, they will need a stronger reed for more resistance.

A soft reed allows beginners to produce a sound easily. If a beginner can produce a decent sound easily it does two things, 1. It provides confidence 2. It ensures that the player's mouth is relaxed. The more relaxed the player's mouth is in the beginning, the better their embouchure (mouth position) will be in the long run.

It's also a good idea to speak to your saxophone teacher about which reed to start with and when it is a good time to move to a harder reed. Things may vary according to the saxophone and mouthpiece that you are using.

Your teacher will also be able to show you how to position the reed on the mouthpiece. Watch out for my next blog post that will also give you some guidelines in this regard.

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