Reed Selection

Reed Selection
Choosing the right reed is a huge challenge for any player, and is in many ways as important as the selection of the right instrument - though ultimately less costly. In combination with the right mouthpiece, (another challenge), finding a reed which gives the right amount of vibration and resistence is paramount to moving forward as a player. There are a great many choices (we list only a few here) and they all have different qualities to recommend them. Information is given about each type of reed (ie. french filed (like the Rico Royal) or not (like the straight Rico, or La Voz), the type of cane used, and what kind of playing styles they suit - although this latter is totally subject to the player. Just because you are a jazz player, don't automatically choose the Jazz Select or Vandoren ZZ. The strength of reed you use will also depend on the amount of time you've been playing, the tip opening of your mouthpiece and your embouchure. Usually smaller tip openings on a mouthpiece, requiring less control, are paired with a weaker reed - normally a 1.5 or 2, the reverse is also true, but again there are always exceptions. Young players, or those just starting to learn will normally start on a 1.5 or 2 reed.

All reeds are graded: either from 1 (very soft) to 5+ (very hard) or in the case of the Rico Jazz and La Voz reeds, from soft to hard (S, MS, M, MH, H) the M standing for Medium. The reed chart below shows there are considerable variations within makes and brands - a 1.5 Rico will not be the same as a 1.5 Vandoren V16.

Some reeds are made for longevity - the Plasticover have a thin black silicon coating and are therefore much harder to snag or break, but also slightly harder to play. The Fibracell are composite reeds and tougher still, if used correctly they should last for months. If you need advice, we will try and help - if you have a teacher they are probably your best source of help, particularly as they know best how you play and so what kind of reed will benefit you most. Most reeds are sold in boxes of 5 or 10 - the oboe and Fibracell reeds are sold singly.

All reed only orders go second class POST FREE in the UK.

Reed Comparison Chart,
Reed Comparison Chart
Strengths: 1-5 softest to hardest, S-H soft to hard (M stands for Medium)