Soprano Saxophone Reeds
For such a small and inexpensive item, a reed can make a world of difference in the sound of your soprano saxophone. Every performance situation and musical style has different tonal and dynamic demands, and your reed choice can make it easier to meet them. From the ever-popular Vandoren to the responsive and flexible Hemke or the dynamically powerful Alexander DC, every brand of reed has something unique to offer. With such a wide variety of soprano saxophone reeds available, you're sure to find what you're looking for here.
When making a decision, the first consideration is the material; reeds can be crafted from natural cane, synthetic materials or a hybrid of both, all of which are best for different applications. Next, you'll need to consider the reed strength. Every brand has its own system for rating reed strengths which can make the choice even more challenging. A soft, or 1.5 to 2 rated reed, is a good starting strength for most students, but it's a fallacy that the goal is necessarily to work up to a hard reed. The ideal reed strength you settle on will depend on many factors, such as the shape of your mouthpiece and the style of music you play, and it may never make sense for you to play with a stiff reed. It's all about experimenting to find what suits you.
When it comes to what your reed is made out of, the most popular material is natural cane. Vandoren Soprano Saxophone Reeds are widely-used among musicians for their exacting standard. All Vandoren reeds are crafted from cane hand-harvested after 2 years and dried for an additional to 2 years, cut and finally inspected by trained craftsmen.
Hybrid reeds are also available, such as the Rico Plasticover Soprano Saxophone Reeds. These reeds are crafted from natural cane but are thinly coated in plastic, offering the quality of cane with the consistency and durability of a synthetic reed. They also resist humidity to perform equally well outdoors on rainy days and in the hot, dry sun.
Although they are less commonly used, synthetic reeds have some distinct advantages. They are by far the most consistent because they don't have natural variation like cane reeds. The Fibracell Synthetic Soprano Saxophone Reed, for example, is made from a composite of Kevlar and lightweight rosin in a design that precisely mimics the construction of cane. They deliver the same woody tone as cane but last up to four times longer and don't need to be moistened.
Selecting the perfect reed is as personal as selecting an instrument, so no one can do it for you. Try as many different brands, materials and strengths as possible to find out which one best complements your music and brings out the best elements of your sax sound.