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Reed Sound Samples

The following sound samples represent 30 different cuts of alto saxophone reeds, including a few vintage reeds thrown in for kicks. Each example is a very short scale starting in the middle register (B) and extending to the top (palm F) and then down to the bottom (low B) on the alto.

I performed the entire session in one day playing each reed the exact same way with little to no dynamic range to keep everything consistent. I also randomly pulled 2 reeds per cut from the drawer. All of the reeds tested were in original condition and not cherry-picked. Every sample was a first take recording.

The point of this experiment was to see how these reeds sounded, and what the differences were between each cut. I found that, for the most part, all of the reeds were very similar in sound. The main difference was how they FELT. That's where the greatest difference existed. At the end of the session I felt I could easily play on at least 10-15 of these cuts, with little, to no problem. I've been telling players this for years...our reeds are actually pretty damn good these days! So, saxophonists, STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR REEDS!

Suggestions on listening:

Use headphones and A-B them quickly going from one sample to the next. In some cases you don't need to listen to the full 10 seconds, just jump to the next sound sample. Some of these samples are almost identical so listen carefully.

For you gear-heads, I used a 81K Selmer Mark VI alto with a Selmer Short Shank mouthpiece refaced by Ted Klum at .068." The ligature was an older Selmer 2 screw ligature.