Reeds are expensive, especially when using professional reeds. Or even worse, baritone saxophone reeds. Some musicians joke that they choose to buy reeds instead of eating. That’s how you can tell the true musician- right?
When there’s a problem, people are great at finding solutions. Cutting the cost of reeds is no exception. Since we can’t do anything about reed prices, musicians have learned how to make their reeds last longer. This is a huge topic, but we’ll just provide the basics today.
Posts of the Past
The last couple of posts have focused on finding the right reed- a reed that will bring out your best tone. (Your Perfect Reed & You May Be Using the Wrong Reed) When you find a good reed, how do you keep it playing as long as possible?
Rotate Your Reeds (Step 1)
First of all, have multiple reeds that you can play on. Here’s a trap that many beginners fall into: playing on 1 reed every single day until it wears out. To help your reeds last longer (and to make sure you don’t become too comfortable with 1 reed), have multiple reeds to play on. Play on reed #1 today and then play on reed #2 tomorrow. Continue this process through all your reeds. This will help your reeds last longer.
Storage (Step 2)
Here’s the big one! If you store your reeds well, they’ll treat you well by lasting longer…much longer. Check out the points below and you’ll begin to notice a difference in your reeds.
Throw it Away!
You know the plastic or cardboard sleeve that the reed comes in? Throw it away! For some reason, the reed companies have this magical ability to place their reeds in these sleeves, with little or no negative affect. But as soon as you get the reeds wet, the magic disappears. In fact, once you’ve played on the reed and return it to the sleeve, the sleeve will warp the reed and make playing difficult. Easy solution- throw away the sleeve!
The Budget Approach
There are all sorts of reed holders/cases out there, ranging from $3 to $75- and I’m sure there are more expensive cases too! But first, let’s do the budget version.
- Purchase an inexpensive reed case, specific to alto/tenor/bari.
- Some brands include Vito, Rico, and Protec.
- Place the reeds in the reed case when done playing.
- Place the whole reed case in a plastic bag. A sandwich bag will work well.
Why the sandwich bag? When wood gets wet and dries out quickly, it warps. Putting the reed in a case with a flat surface and placing it in a bag keeps the reed from warping too much. The bag sustains the humidity, slowing down the drying process, resulting in fewer warped reeds. Warped reeds = bad playing reeds.
Companies such as Vandoren and Rico have researched the area of reed storage. They have produced effective products that are more scientific then our sandwich bag option. But the bottom line: let your reed dry slowly on a flat surface.
If you apply the 2 techniques in this post (rotation and reed storage) you’ll notice that your reeds will last longer and you’ll begin to sound better too. And the other benefit- you’ll spend less money on reeds.
What Do You Think?
- What do you do for reed storage?
- Haven’t tried reed storage and rotation? Try it out and let us know how it goes!
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