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Single Reed Survival Guide

Author - Provided by Rico

Selecting the Proper Reed

Reed selection
Rico offers a variety of reeds to meet the needs of players of all levels and musical styles. Rico reeds are made to exact intolerances to ensure the highest consistency and playability from reed to reed.

Reed strength selection
Reeds are available in a range of strengths to accommodate players of all experience levels. It is important to match the proper reed strength to your mouthpiece. Here is a chart that explains Rico's line of reeds according to player experience and tonal qualities.

As a reed begins to close off against the mouthpiece with normal jaw pressure, it is generally time to move up a half strength.

Make Your Reeds Last Longer

Tip one: protecting your reeds
Use a mouthpiece cap when not playing to prevent damage. To protect your reeds, store them in a Reed Gard or reed case.

Tip two: choosing the proper ligature
Choose a ligature that fits snug against the reed and mouthpiece. The new Rico ligatures feature a four-point system that applies equal and even pressure to the reed.

Tip three: rotating your reeds
Once you have chosen and adjusted your favorite reeds, rotate them to prolong their durability. Play or break in one reed for 10 or 15 minutes, then rinse it, and play the next reed. Always keep a number of reeds that are broken in on hand.

Tip four: marking your reeds
Mark your reeds on the front or back of the reed with a pencil in order of preference, and see how the order will change after a few days of playing. Rearrange the order as needed.

Tip five: clean reeds last longer
After playing, run your reed underwater and gently wipe away excess moisture. This will allow cane pores to remain unclogged and clean.

Tip six: humidity control
For maintenance free reed storage use the Rico Reed Vitalizer two-way auto humidity control system. The patented Humidipak technology helps prevent cracking and warping by regulating the humidity level and keeping the reeds consistently moist.

Assembling Your Instrument
Mouthpiece, ligature and reed
1. Slide ligature over the mouthpiece about halfway down – loose enough to allow the reed to fit underneath.
2. Slide a moist reed (either with water or in your mouth) underneath the ligature on the flat part of the mouthpiece (flat part of the reed lays flat against the mouthpiece), and align it flush with the tip of the mouthpiece.

Clarinet Assembly
1. Take the bell and gently twist in the lower joint.
2. Gently attach the upper joint, making sure to press down the upper joint rings to raise the bridge key.
3. Align and center the bridge keys.
4. Insert barrel all the way down then adjust as needed for tuning.

Saxophone Assembly
1. Hold the body from the bell and avoid touching keys.
2. Gently insert the neck into the saxophone's body; lift the connector key above the octave rod to avoid damage; do not apply cork grease on metal joint.
3. You are reedy to play!

Care Tips for Your Instrument

Tip one: Preassembly. Apply cork grease on each joint cork. Apply only when corks are dry, and do not apply on the saxophone's metal joints. Wipe the saxophone neck joint and inside the receiver with a soft cloth to ensure easy assembly.

Tip two: Assembly. Avoid bending keys by firmly pressing down keys during assembly.

Tip three: Swabbing. Take apart the instrument and use an absorbent drop swab to clean each section after every use.

Tip four: Cleaning. Clean hard-to-reach areas inside the joints with a microfiber or cotton swab to avoid unhealthy particles or cork grease buildup. Clean and pat dry moist pads with very thin paper.

Tip five: Reed preparation. Reeds play best when they are moist. Soak your reed in room temperature water for one minute before playing.

Tip six: Reed cleaning. Rinse away excess saliva with water. This will allow reed pores to remain unclogged and extend the life of your reed. Remove the reed from the mouthpiece after playing to avoid mold.

Tip seven: Mouthpiece care. Always clean your mouthpiece after use, and cover it with a cap to protect it and to avoid chipping your reed.

Tip eight: Key care. Do not place anything in the case that can press on your instrument and crush the key posts or other parts of the instrument.

Tip nine: Storage. Do not leave your instrument in places in extreme heat, cold or humidity. Wooden clarinets can crack during sudden temperature changes.

Assembly Tips

  • Never force the parts of your instrument together.
  • Keep extra reeds on hand as well as a clean swab and cork grease.
  • Always use a mouthpiece cap when not playing to avoid chipping your reed.