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How to Pick Saxophone Reeds

Learn how to pick saxophone reeds in this Howcast video.


Hi, this is Troy Roberts. We are going to talk about picking a saxophone reed. This is a reed on a saxophone. They vary in sizes and brand, and there is no one brand or size that is better than another. It is really important that you spend a lot of time figuring out what size or brand you prefer. Within a box of reed, the five or ten or however many you buy, each reed is actually going to be different, simply because you cannot keep consistent the growth of cane. It is cane, essentially. It is important to try out a lot of reeds, and see what you like and do not like about them. You can also really feel the difference between the edges of the reed. Sometimes there will be an imbalance, with one side of the reed being thicker than the other, and you can really feel. That is going to affect the way the reed performs. There are tools that you can buy that are designed for working on reeds, so, when you pick a reed out of the box, that does not have to be it. You can invest in these tools that are designed to shave little parts of the reed away to make it perform better, or to alter an okay reed anyway.

Depending on how much you play, if you are playing every day, a reed could last you months or it could last you weeks. I have reeds that have lasted me only a couple of days. There are methods of storing reeds in water, or sugar free mouthwash, and some people use vodka, that supposedly help reeds last longer. There are many methods and brands and sizes out there, it is best to just find what is best for you.

When working on reeds with a reed altering tool, there is a little test you can do. Once you have the reed on the mouthpiece, you can actually blow into each side of the reed, and see which side is not actually working to well. Maybe too thick or too thin. For example. I think that right side of this reed, is a bit stuffier than the left. If I were to work on this reed, perhaps I would work on one of those sides.

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