While reeds are a very small part of playing an instrument, they do alter your saxophone's sound significantly. For the richest, most beautiful notes, choose the right reeds for your skill level and your instrument. Purchase saxophone reeds from many brands and play your best every time you pick up your saxophone.
The most popular reed type is of natural cane. Professional saxophone players often use cane reeds. Though each reed is different due to its natural make-up, cane reeds provide a lovely, bold sound overall and just the right amount of vibration. There are several noteworthy brands of cane reeds, including Vandoren. Cane reeds provide a warmer, deeper sound than synthetic reeds, but they are more expensive. Cane reeds also vary in quality because they are natural, so one may sound better than another.
Made from a composite of materials, synthetic reeds attempt to recreate the sound of cane reeds. They are an affordable alternative to the more costly cane reeds, and they do not need the conditioning, softening, or altering that some cane reeds may require for playing. They are also more durable than cane reeds and do not warp, bend, or break as easily. Synthetic reeds provide a more consistent sound since each one is the same. Bari and Legere are reputable synthetic reed brands.
Plastic-Coated or Semi-Plastic Reeds
A semi-plastic reed is a cane reed which includes a plastic coating. Rico makes a popular model. This type of reed gives you the best of both worlds: the sound of a cane reed and the sturdiness of a plastic reed. Plastic reeds made entirely of silicone provide you with a booming sound perfect for jazz music. These reeds work well for all skill levels and allow you to enjoy a consistent sound.
Matching Reeds to Instruments
It does matter which type of reed you use, whether you play a tenor or an alto saxophone. Since the instruments sound different and produce different tones, you should choose a reed meant specifically for your saxophone type. Look for alto sax reeds, soprano sax reeds, or tenor sax reeds. Choose the reeds that match your saxophone for a more customised sound.
Reed Softness or Hardness
Notice the number under each type of reed. This lets you know the reed's softness or hardness. Saxophone reeds vary on a scale of one to five, with five being the hardest reed. Most beginners start with a softer reed, such as a two, and work up to a harder reed, such as a four or five. Most professional players use harder reeds. It does not matter which reed strength you choose; it may be a matter of personal preference based on the sound you desire. If you have a wide mouthpiece, choose a soft reed for the best sound. Narrow mouthpieces work better with hard reeds.