What Are Saxophone Reeds? How To Choose Them

The saxophone reed is a shaved bit of cane situated on the mouthpiece. Reeds turn a collection of tubes and brass valves into a real musical instrument. They are originally created from cane and have a structure that is thick at the bottom and thin at the top. The top is also curved to a low angle so that the sound and airflow is better. A ligature – a metallic band that secures the reed to the instrument is also present. The reed acts as an airflow regulator, enabling the sax player to control the rhythm of the sounds.

A reed also has the role of making the air vibrate, which is, in fact, the way sounds a re emitted from the instrument. Since the reed needs to be wet in order for the sound to come out right, many sax players will wet the reed a long time before the actual performance.

How to choose saxophone reeds

alto saxophone reeds

This choice is very subjective and it is a matter of individual taste. There are several aspects related to durability, tone and sound quality that you should consider. Thinner reeds are favored by a large number of saxophone players as they produce better vibration, thus giving them more control over the accuracy of the music. The cane from which the saxophone reeds are made of decays in time, so keeping a set of reeds handy and using them by rotation is a good idea.

Of course, the thinner the reed is the more chances it has of cracking, so a balance has to be found between the thickness of the reed and it’s ability to produce melodious sounds. Many saxophone players will tell you that no reed sounds like the other – you will most likely have a couple of favorite ones in an entire box.

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