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Live Wire

Advantage Series 1/4" Straight Instrument Cable

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:: Guide Index » Accessories » Single Reeds

Single Reed Buyer's Guide

Single-Reed Breakdown

Recommended Reed Lists

section #5
 

Materials

section #2
featuring

Vandoren V-12 Advanced Bb Clarinet Reeds

Single reeds are made from many different materials, but it really comes down to natural cane vs. synthetic.


Cane Reeds:
It has long been believed that the best reeds in the world are made from a species of cane (Arundo donax). This type of woody grass cane is used for its deep-centered sound and rich tone quality. The most popular cane for crafting natural woodwind reeds comes from the Var region of France, but cane from other world regions is quickly gaining favor (including canes from Argentina and Spain).


Synthetic Reeds:
Synthetic woodwind reeds are made from a wide variety of materials, but each does its best to emulate the response and sound quality of a natural cane reed. The advantage of synthetic reeds is their consistency. Because they non-organic, synthetic reeds will not change with temperature and humidity. This means the reed plays the same every time you put it on your mouthpiece. Synthetic reeds are extremely popular with jazz musicians who play on wider tipped mouthpieces, pit orchestra players who need to pick up an instrument and have it respond right away, and marching band members who are often asked to play in adverse weather conditions.


Reed Strength:
The number on a music instrument reed indicates its stiffness or strength. Larger numbers indicated strong (more dense) reeds. Most instructors start students on strength 2 reeds (which are relatively soft) and gradually increase the strength as the student develops. The strength of the reed determines the tone that is produced. Softer reeds are easier to play, but have poorer tone. Stronger reeds produce a darker tone, but also require better breath support and embouchure strength.

If a reed is too soft for a player, it will tend to buzz or play overly bright. The upper register may be flat, or may not speak at all if the player inadvertently pinches the reed shut against the mouthpiece.

If the reed is too stiff, the articulation will suffer and the player will lose the necessary flexibility for proper intonation. It will also be difficult to play softly or in the lower register.

If you are unsure which strength of reed to get, consult your music instructor. He or she will recommend a strength that suits your style and ability.

 

Parts of the Reed

section #2

Tip:
The reed's tip dictates the initial response of the reed. The thinner the tip, the more immediate the sound will be. The heavier the tip, the greater amount of air it can handle. The trick is finding a reed that responds well, but is also capable of playing at higher dynamic levels without closing off.


Vamp:
A reed's vamp is the "cut" area of the reed where there is no bark present. In general, a longer vamped reed is very responsive, flexible and popular among jazz musicians. A shorter vamp reed offers more focus and is used more by concert players.


Heart:
The heart of the reed is found in the center of the vamp. It dictates the tone color of the reed. The thinner the heart, the more open and "reedy" the sound will be. The opposite is true of thick hearted reeds.

Buy Your Reeds with Confidence from The Woodwind & Brasswind

In choosing single reeds, you need to consider your musician's age and skill level, and the kind of use (school band, marching band, orchestra, etc.) to which they will put their instrument. If for school, consulting with the band teacher is a good idea.


Whatever reeds you select, you don't need to worry about paying too much. Our 45-Day Lowest Price Guarantee means that if you find the same single reeds advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the difference. When you buy any reeds from The Woodwind & Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.


*For sanitary reasons, woodwind reeds are not returnable.


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