One thing that many people seem to believe about playing saxophone is that it’s better to play a harder reed.
Should you play a #1 after five years?
No (for almost everyone).
But at the same time, you probably don’t need to play a #4 or higher, especially if your mouthpiece has a bit of an opening.
I personally have played different strengths of reeds. For a very beginning student I recommend using a 1.5. Between 2 and 3.5 is about normal for most sax players, depending on your preference.
Received a question and had a bit of a conversation about it.
Having challenges with sound quality – relating to breath control
Playing roughly six and a half years.
On Day 1, “I guess i didn’t sound real good. Probably breathy and somewhat resembling an angry goose.”
How can I improve the quality of sound I am making? I always sound breathy, and sometimes my tone isn’t great either.
What mouthpiece and reed are you using?
Currently I’m using a Yanagisawa 5c mouthpiece and a Vandoren Java 3 1/2 reed.
Have you tried a softer reed?
A reed that is too hard usually causes a breathy sound for me.
Cool, thanks. I’ll give that a try. My teacher has actually been prompting me to try a harder reed. Any idea why?
She is also encouraging me to play the clarinet. She says it’s less forgiving on technique, so it will help…
She might be good at the saxophone, I’m not sure.
She is right in what she says about the clarinet. It’s easier to go from clarinet to saxophone than the reverse. I started on clarinet. If you want to play clarinet, maybe you should.
However, I disagree about the reed thing. I think you should try a softer reed and see if it works better for you.
If you were using a mouthpiece with a more closed tip opening, then the harder reed might be a good idea.
Or if you were using a very soft reed. But I see no reason for you to use a harder reed, especially if it sounds from what you’re saying like it is too hard for you/your mouthpiece/instrument.
Thanks Neal, I’ll try that.
Basically, if your reed is difficult to play and sounds breathy, you probably should play a softer reed. Go down by a half size and see what happens. You can always come back.
First of all, I got some new reeds. Three two-and-a-halfs, one two, and one one-and-a-half.
I’m currently playing two, and it’s working much better.
It’s no longer hard to play, I’m no longer breathy, I can play louder and I sound clearer. Thanks heaps for the advice.