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Frederick Hemke Alto Saxophone ReedsThe dark tone of Frederick Hemke Alto Sax Reeds is favored by pro players from classical and traditional jazz ensembles. Well-suited design for traditional round-chambered mouthpieces.
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I've been playing saxophone for the better part of a decade and when my instructor and co-creator of the Hemke reed (James Bishop) told me to play these reeds, I must admit that I was hesitant to leave the Vandorens but after 5 minutes of playing on the Hemkes I literally broke every one of my Vandorens and started playing on nothing but the Hemke reeds. Since I began playing them I have never had a single problem with them, I paired them with my Caravan mouthpieces for my alto, tenor and bari and I don't think that there is any other reed that I would ever play on. These reeds provide excellent control and allow the player to dig deeper when working for a purely "dark" saxophone sound. If I had the ability and monetary assests I would see to it that every saxophone player on the planet could own atleast 5 of these perfect reeds.
I've been on Hemkes since high school, all the way through my music degree, and still play them today. They play well right out of the box, which was a big seller for me. I've known how to work on reeds for a long time, but when you're preparing for a recital, finicky reeds can be a real bummer. I rarely found myself working much on these reeds. As a result, I always recommend them to my students over Van Doren because of how easy they are to play.
I have to admit, however, that Van Dorens generally last a little longer for me. In college, I would get, on average, 2.5 weeks off a 4-set of Hemke reeds with ~5 hrs playtime a day before I started to feel one or two of them weakening. A simple reed clipper can extend the lifetime of these by a week or two.
That being said, 9/10 of the reeds come with a perfectly formed heart, no thicker, dark spots in the outer parts of the reed, with a silver shine around the tip of the reed when held up to a light. That's exactly what I look for.
I highly recommend these easy-to-play, non-frustrating reeds.
These reeds are the best sounding and give you a nice dark low sound with your lower notes. They are able to be play well on right out of the box. No troubling warm up or break in technique are needed for these reeds to sound beautiful. However, I do recommend going a little bit in strengths since 3's feel like somewhere between 2.5 and 3. The best reed you find in a box of vandorens would probably be a tiny bit better then the majority of these rico reeds, but vandoren's don't might have 2 or 3 good reeds out of a box of 10 while all of these reeds here are good. GOOD BUY!
I use Hemke 2 1/2 reeds on a vintage Meliphone mp.This setup gives me a large and warm sound. I had been using Rico Royal 2 1/2 reeds but as my embouchure improved (I've been playing about two years, this time around.) They were too soft and also the quality was not consistent. I tried RR 3 but that was stiff for me and not comfortable to use. I was consulting a reed chart when I noticed that (at least on that chart) the Hemke 2 1/2 sat between the 2 1/2 and 3 of all the other brands on the chart. I tried a box and was quickly convinced. The hardness is still perfect for me after about a year of using them. I love the big dark sound I get with the reed. Perfect for the blues I play with my band but also very nice for the wind ensemble I play with. I feel the warm sound blends well with the sax section and the rest of the band. The quality has been very consistent. Almost no bad reeds out of the box. All have gotten used.
I got it as a "sample" to try, and one day, when I ran out of my other reeds, I decided to try it. I've found that it has a shorter breaking-in period than the reeds I used to use (Vandoren); instead of taking a week to break in, this reed only takes about 2-3 days. I've also noticed that I have a darker, richer sound with this reed, as well as faster response. Usually, the whole box is pretty good, but I've purchased a couple boxes with a few bad reeds in them. For me, the only problem with this reed is that it only comes in a box of 5.
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