Vandoren V16 Reeds

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Walrus78

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Apr 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/20/96
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In my experiences with Vandoren V16, I discovered for myself that these
reeds appear very high in quality, but have no life after three or four
days. Does anyone else have similar experiences?

ZigZag79

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Apr 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/22/96
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I played on these reeds when they first came out and they didn't hold up.
The longest i had one last was 4 days.
Rich

Michael Wells

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Apr 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/22/96
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> I played on these reeds when they first came out and they didn't hold up.
> The longest i had one last was 4 days.

Hmm. I don't often play them (just as the fancy takes me!) but I've never had these
problems. Vandoren are always a matter of luck, but maybe more so with these types?

umop apisdn - .\.\ichael...michael@zany.demon.co.uk...
http://www.rahul.net/rrk/SAXFAQ.html for the ams FAQ


bbb...@sheltonlink.com

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Apr 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/24/96
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In <453004...@zany.demon.co.uk>, Michael Wells <Mic...@zany.demon.co.uk> writes:
>
>> I played on these reeds when they first came out and they didn't hold up.
>> The longest i had one last was 4 days.
>
>Hmm. I don't often play them (just as the fancy takes me!) but I've never had these
>problems. Vandoren are always a matter of luck, but maybe more so with these types?

I'm looking for something a little darker than my Rico Royals and thought
I'd try some Vandorens.; Went to a couple of music stores to pick up some
(I always try to hand select reeds if I'm trying a new brand), and went
through 6 boxes of blue box and V16 to bring home 4 reeds that looked
good. Put them on the horn and two of them play well. 6 boxes for 2 good
reeds? Pretty low success rate, but the ones that do play, play great!

BBB


B.B. Bean bbb...@sheltonlink.com
Peach Orchard, MO http://www.cris.com/~Bbbean


Riz Hassan

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Apr 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/25/96
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On 24 Apr 1996 bbb...@sheltonlink.com wrote:

> I'm looking for something a little darker than my Rico Royals and thought
> I'd try some Vandorens.; Went to a couple of music stores to pick up some
> (I always try to hand select reeds if I'm trying a new brand), and went
> through 6 boxes of blue box and V16 to bring home 4 reeds that looked
> good. Put them on the horn and two of them play well. 6 boxes for 2 good
> reeds? Pretty low success rate, but the ones that do play, play great!

If you're looking for a darker sound, have you tried Hemkes? I've found
that they give me a darker sound than any of the Vandorens. And up here
they're actually cheaper.

____________________________________________________________________
Riz Hassan (has...@ecf.utoronto.ca)
"Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but
let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is"
- Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Michael Wells

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Apr 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/26/96
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In article: <4lle9p$2...@news2.inlink.com> bbb...@sheltonlink.com writes:

> (I always try to hand select reeds if I'm trying a new brand), and went
> through 6 boxes of blue box and V16 to bring home 4 reeds that looked
> good.

How do you select them, though? What are your criteria? I always look for balance (is
the heart like a central dark bit when held up to the light, or does it streak and bleed into
the sides and tip of the reed...etc). I rarely find a good reed from the shop using this
though. It's like predicting the stock exchange - on average, you're better off going
against your better judgement! :-!

I'd be interested to hear what you think...I agree that six boxes for two good reeds is not
good.

bbb...@sheltonlink.com

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Apr 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/29/96
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In <263256...@zany.demon.co.uk>, Michael Wells <Mic...@zany.demon.co.uk> writes:
>In article: <4lle9p$2...@news2.inlink.com> bbb...@sheltonlink.com writes:
>
>> (I always try to hand select reeds if I'm trying a new brand), and went
>> through 6 boxes of blue box and V16 to bring home 4 reeds that looked
>> good.
>
>How do you select them, though? What are your criteria?

First I toss aside the reeds that are assymetric (at the cut or the butt),
and then I look at the opaque(ness, icity?) for an even transition from
the thicker heart to the tip and rails. I feel the sides of the reeds
and tip and try to find reeds that feel balanced. I also stick my
thumbnail into the butt to check for hardness. I usually can get reeds
that are 2/3 to 3/4 playable using this method, but not in my last
adventure with Vandorens.

Shooshie

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Apr 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/29/96
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|> In article: <4lle9p$2...@news2.inlink.com> bbb...@sheltonlink.com writes:
|>
|> > (I always try to hand select reeds if I'm trying a new brand), and went
|> > through 6 boxes of blue box and V16 to bring home 4 reeds that looked
|> > good.
|>

|> How do you select them, though? What are your criteria? I always look for
|> balance (is the heart like a central dark bit when held up to the light,
|> or does it streak and bleed into the sides and tip of the reed...etc). I
|> rarely find a good reed from the shop using this though. It's like
|> predicting the stock exchange - on average, you're better off going
|> against your better judgement! :-!
|>
|> I'd be interested to hear what you think...I agree that six boxes for two
|> good reeds is not good.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The time has come to talk about reeds.

I've been asked several times to discuss this, and have procrastinated for
good reason. This is a bad idea, trying to talk reeds without even so much
as a picture, but I've never really exercised the best judgment on UseNET,
so throwing caution to the wind, I proceed. At best, I can only put a
general idea out there; at worst, I could really give you some wrong
impressions, so feel free to ask questions:

Rule Number 1:
Every rule has exceptions. With reeds, the exceptions are the rule.
That is the only rule I'll be making. Stick to it wisely.

That said, let's move on to practical advice. Start at the butt, or heel
of the reed. Look for symmetry. A reed which is thicker on one side than
the other at the heel was cut out of a crooked piece of cane, or else
split at an angle or sanded flat at an angle, and therefore will be harder
on one side. Sometimes the backbone will actually run at a slight diagonal
up the reed. This always spells trouble, usually in the form of squeaks.
Often these reeds are buzzy and stiff, so that if you ever get the
stiffness worked out of them, they buzz like paper. Reject them. Any reed
of this sort which plays well is an exception, and most likely will quit
playing the moment you need it most.

The center of the heel should be in the neighborhood of half-again to
double the thickness of the edges. If the arc is too curved, the backbone
is going to be very thick. Too shallow and it will lack support. Middle
thickness rules.

The second check is to lay the reed flat on a piece of glass. You must
check the table of the reed to see if it is flat. See if it rocks from
side to side, like the bottom of a canoe. Some may actually have a concave
table. Perfect flatness is ideal, but it won't stay flat when you begin
playing it. More on this later. For now, if the reed has a tremendous arc
in the table, reject it. If it is only a slight arc, go ahead and work
with it for now. Note that this is not so much a defect in the reed as a
response to the environment. If you live by the ocean, you will find most
of your reeds to be flat or concave. If you live at high altitudes, cold
climates, or deserts - (dry air) - they will be canoe shaped. This is
something that takes a *lot* of learning, and I may not try to devote much
time to it here. It even changes as you play.

Now turn the reed so that you see a profile, heel to tip, along each rail
(the side of a reed). From the heel to the shoulder - where the cut begins
its wedge-shaped decline to the tip - the top and bottom of the rail
should be parallel. If it's not, then again the reed was cut wrong from
the tube cane, or the cane was crooked. More problems than you want to
fool with, trust me. Just reject it. Of course... if it plays it plays.
But it will probably have weird extreme registers, because the fibers will
not run full-length from heel to tip.

Symmetry, proportion and balance are the goals

Next, check the shoulders. Just like your shoulders, they work best when
they are located symmetrically, relative to each other. One shoulder
should not be higher than the other, or thicker. This will also mean that
the vamp - the scraped surface of the reed - must form a perfectly
symmetrical arc from one shoulder to the other. If this arc slides off on
one side or the other, then the reed is *definitely* imbalanced, and even
the best reed-knife technique will be challenged to restore the balance.
The shape of this arc is going to differ from manufacturer to
manufacturer. A good reed maker will adjust that arc for each reed he
makes, because it depends upon cane thickness, diameter of the original
tube, strength, and other subjective factors as well. Manufacturers cannot
do this, of course. Their machines attempt to scrape every piece of cane
into the shape of their pattern. Since every piece of cane is as different
as our faces, this is obviously impossible. It's potluck here. You'll have
to figure out how to measure a number of things subjectively. I'd have to
teach you personally over time, or at least show you some pictures, but
I'll attempt a description or two.

Hold the reed up to the light. Shield your eyes from the light so that the
reed appears to be illuminated from within. Now mentally draw an X from
the corners (at the tip) to the shoulders of the reed. Within that X, you
should have four sections. The rear section is roughly the backbone of the
reed, and should be fairly opaque. The right and left sides are areas in
which it is permissible to scrape for adjustment, and should range from
dark at the bottom to lighter at the tip. These *must* be symmetrical.
Here's the problem in 'eyeballing' it: strength does not always correlate
exactly to brightness of the light. You can learn what to look for within
that light - coarseness of grain, density of the tubules which are the
vibrating core of the reed, and the patterns they make - but when you are
learning this, brightness (how much light passes through) is about as good
a test as any.

Symmetry, proportion and balance are the goals

If you choose to adjust these sides of the reed (within the X pattern's
left and right sides), just be aware that any scraping you make must taper
smoothly to the tip. No gouges. If you see a little dark spot and try to
scrape it out, most likely you'll end up with a gouged area which will
ruin your reed. When you scrape, remember that you are scraping a tapered
incline plane. One stroke near the tip is worth ten strokes at the
shoulder. (Not an actual proportion, just a figure of speech) The shoulder
area is where you will need to work to loosen up pudgy low registers,
although, again, it must be worked proportionally down to the tip. When
you work on a reed in this way, it is balance you are trying to achieve.
If you find yourself trying to change the strength of each reed, making
them softer, chances are you just need to start with a softer reed to
begin with. But strength and balance are easily confused. The difference
is this: a balanced reed plays with a nice sound even if it's hard. It
will have finer overtone structure, but may just be uncomfortable to blow
if it is too hard, and may sound airy, even though it responds fairly
well. A reed which may be "soft" enough but imbalanced will feel hard to
blow because it doesn't want to respond to an attack, and certain
registers will play better than others. Often certain notes will sound
good but not others even nearby. Balancing it will bring out the good
overtone structure and make all registers respond more evenly.

Symmetry, proportion and balance are the goals

Now, the area in the front triangle of the X represents several special
areas. Let's imagine it as a slice of a pie stood on its point. It is the
most transparent of the four sections of the reed There at the vertex
(which was the center of our X) is what we call the heart of the reed.
That area is sacred. Only those who have been knighted by the reed-gods
are allowed to work in that area. But it's ok to mess around with it to
see what happens if you want to learn and don't mind wasting reeds.
Otherwise, how are you going to become a reed-god? You gotta learn, and
experience is a great teacher. Along with a few thousand reeds.

Too stiff a heart will make your attacks dull and airy. Too little heart
will make your altissimo and high registers weak and flat. Of course,
heart must be relative to tip, and we're going to talk about tip later, so
keep the heart in mind, always comparing it relatively to other parts of
the reed, but don't fret with it much for now. You'll figure out what to
do as you learn. This is a long-term skill. You don't become an expert on
reeds overnight. Even with the knowledge of what to do, your hands have to
learn it. It's as if the embouchure and hands communicate, and the brain
only gets in the way when you actually start scraping. This is a craft, an
art, so don't rush it.

Symmetry, proportion and balance are the goals

Feel the corners of the tip of the reed, and the arc of the tip from
corner to corner. In our pie shape, this would be the crust. Slightly
touch them so that they bend and spring back at your touch. If you are
sensitive to it, you will learn to feel when one corner is stronger than
the other. This always leads to squeaks, stiff attacks, and sounds which
are harmonically out of tune with themselves. The corners must be equal in
elasticity. Fine, even grain is a good sign, but too much grain is a bad
sign at the corners. The fully-formed tubules should fade from view about
one to two millimeters from the tip.

A trick which helps reed response, if you can learn to do it well, is to
scrape the last one-half millimeter of the tip to a very thin incline.
Rather than an abrupt square dropping off at a thickness of about .3 mm,
taper it down to about .1 mm. It just catches the air better and helps
transfer vibration into the vamp of the reed. I do this with a reed knife
on glass, but others may have better luck with sandpaper rolled around a
fingertip, or with dutch rush - an abrasive member of the fern family
which grows around creeks. Looks like a corrogated straw about a
quarter-inch (7 - 8mm) in diameter.

Do not work on the area from the heart to the tip (the "pie" shape,
excepting the crust - the extreme tip as described above) unless you are
experimenting. It is usually counterproductive, since that area of the
reed is the "patented" shape of each manufacturer's scrape, and since it
is very sensitive to mistakes of imbalance. If the scrape in that area is
not right for you, try a different kind of reed or make your own.

Symmetry, proportion and balance are the goals

Ok, that is a brief discussion of the scrape of the reed. Now for a
serious problem that affects everyone, but which few people are aware of
just how seriously it affects them: the table's flatness. If there is any
leakage between the table of the reed and the table of the mouthpiece,
that leakage forms the equivalent of a vent, like an octave key. It wants
to make your tone break at a squeaky-high harmonic. One way to tell if you
are getting a leak between the reed and the mouthpiece is to place your
hand against the back of the mouthpiece (or the larger end of the
saxophone neck with the mouthpiece on it) to seal it off, then form a
suction in the mouthpiece, pulling it from your mouth and sealing it off
with the reed as it goes. This should hold for at least a couple of
seconds. If you can't get a suction, there's a leak. I find this test to
be slightly damaging to the heart of the reed over time - it's not good to
bite on it - and it can actually create a leak. So, I perform another test
which kind of gets a 'crowing' sound from the reed by sucking air through
your horn (fully equipped with mouthpiece and reed). There's a certain
sound it makes when everything is ok, and it cannot do it if there is a
leak. This is a more benign test, and easier to perform, but more
difficult to describe in print.

If the reed is warped in a canoe-shape convex table, then you have some
choices. You can sand it flat if the warpage is minor. Beware, though,
because this weakens the overall reed. A better approach is to wet the
reed and store it in a hermetically sealed container overnight, then take
it out, play on it and work on it the next day, then repeat this each day
for about two weeks. Before you play, soak the reed well with saliva from
heel to tip and give it time to absorb it, rewetting it from time to time
over a period of about three minutes. After about two weeks the reed's
pores begin to seal off and the warpage becomes less pronounced. At this
point, you can polish the table of the reed by placing the reed flat on a
piece of paper on glass. Not sandpaper, but plain paper. Holding onto the
reed with some downward pressure, slide it from side to side, quickly, as
though you are sanding it. After a while, you can achieve a hard shine as
the surface becomes glazed with heat and friction. This helps seal the
table itself.

I recommend two methods of storage. Smaller reeds store well on glass in
those felt-lined wooden reed cases. Larger reeds are even *more*
susceptible to weather changes, and I recommend a bottle of some sort with
a sealed lid. I have a plastic bottle not much bigger than the reeds
themselves. I put sponge in the bottom to protect the tip. As I put reeds
into it (after playing), I may breathe a little air into it before putting
the cap on. That puts the moisture of my breath in there for the reed to
absorb. [note: if you leave this for a few days, it will be nicely covered
with a furry mold. I've actually just scraped it off and continued using
the reeds. Sometimes the mold actually fills the pores and prevents
drastic warpage! But I'm not recommending it.]

If you live in a relatively humid climate, this is not a problem you will
have to deal with so much until you go on tour. When you tour the mountain
or desert states, you'll be wishing you remembered what ol' Shooshie told
you.

As you play, the reed may dry out and warp on your mouthpiece, especially
in the desert states. This is why I keep all sorts of reeds in the
preparation stages, and finish them on site. A reed which is concave in
Miami is going to be flat in Denver or Phoenix, but a reed which is convex
in Miami will be unusable in Denver.

Again, this is an art form, and many people develop their own methods. I'm
just trying to make you aware of it. Younger players tend not to know
about these things, and get bewildered especially when they travel and
find that their lightning technique suddenly can't get off the ground when
they change cities. It's an eye-opening experience, but you don't have to
travel out of state to experience it. Go from a house with old-fashioned
gas space heaters and into a building with central heat and you'll get the
same effect, or from an air-conditioned practice room to an outdoor
concert.

Five pages. Too much. And I've really only scratched the surface. Let me
tell you, reedmaking is the evil twin to all the technique which you work
on daily in the practice room. Ignore it, and it will steal away all your
ability and make you impotent just when you think you're a stud. If you
are playing on a high-level, or aspire to it, then you're either an expert
on reeds or soon will be - or else you'll soon shift careers.

Oh yes, one last thing; did I mention that symmetry, proportion and
balance are the goals?

Shooshie

Rich Rousseau

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Apr 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/30/96
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In article <453004...@zany.demon.co.uk> Michael Wells wrote:
>Hmm. I don't often play them (just as the fancy takes me!) but
I've never
> had these
>problems. Vandoren are always a matter of luck, but maybe more so
with
> these types?
>

I tried several boxes and found it to be true with all


Charles J. Lord

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May 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/1/96
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I still have not found a more cost effective way to get good reeds than
to buy Ricos in bulk from a wholesaler and throw the rest away. Until
some brand starts producing >50% usables, I see no advantage to the
premium brands.


Michael Wells

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May 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/1/96
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Hi!

> First I toss aside the reeds that are assymetric (at the cut or the butt),
> and then I look at the opaque(ness, icity?) for an even transition from
> the thicker heart to the tip and rails. I feel the sides of the reeds
> and tip and try to find reeds that feel balanced. I also stick my
> thumbnail into the butt to check for hardness. I usually can get reeds
> that are 2/3 to 3/4 playable using this method, but not in my last
> adventure with Vandorens.

I do all this but I've never tested the heart with my nail. Just lately I've had a really good
run. I've got three Vandoren 3.5s on the go which are _incredibly_ good. I mean
outstanding. They are the best I've ever had. It's going to be horrible when they get
broken or worn out. :-(

Looking at them, though, the main characteristic which they all have is a very exact
symmetry, especially in the tip, with a good, consistent tapering of the heart. The heart
is central and doesn't bleed away into the sides of the reed at all. Also, there are no
streaks or stray splinters of cane. The sides of the reed are lined up with the direction
of the cane's 'grain', which is often not the case imho on Rico Royals. Also, having
sanded these reeds a little, they are completely smooth. I can remember that at least
one of them seemed unplayable when I first got it. The sanding helps enormously. I
use a super-fine emery cloth, which is technically a metal sander, but because it has no
harsh crystals on it like sand or glass-paper, it is perfect for reeds.

Vandoren all the way for me. If you take the view that no reed will be perfect from the
manufacturer, then it's just a matter of finding the best sort of 'blank' to work on.
Vandoren are thicker in the tip and, provided you find their tone agreeable, they are
easier to work on. I have a suspicion that Hemke may also be good but I've not
persisted with these reeds much. Rico...well...they are a good reed. They are also a
little limited. I don't quite know how. Perhaps I just dislike the sound. They give me the
impression of super-mass production, whereas Vandoren do seem to be just a little bit
more carefully made. For example, I once bought a Rico Royal 3 which was so
splintered and coarse that it would never play (it was in a box of 10 - that's one
argument against buying by the box) - hand selection would have helped a lot there.
It's obviously cheaper to buy mail order, though, where you just can't do that.

The one thing that irritates me INTENSELY is being offered a box of reeds which is
obviously just a collection of rejects from other boxes which have been sorted through
in the shop. I never shop anywhere where this goes on. It makes financial sense, but it
should also be made obvious from the outset. These boxes should be cheaper, if
anything.

Reeds, reeds, reeds...<sulk>

:-)

--

* umop apisdn - .\.\ichael - mic...@zany.demon.co.uk
* http://www.rahul.net/rrk/SAXFAQ.html -> alt.music.saxophone FAQ


Everett Carroll

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May 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/4/96
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I get >80% usables by simply buying about 1/2 strength too hard,
and shaving them to perfection. Almost every reed ends up at least
serviceable, and most are outstanding. I prefer (or should I say, my
moutpiece prefers) Vandoren V-16, and/or Java. The stainless steel
Beechler I use will play either type without a problem, but the
stainless bronze Berg Larsen I'm experimenting with likes the V-16 cut
much better - and, it is also picky about the reed being "just so".
But, nevertheless, even with the Berg, I get >80% usables by buying
hard and adjusting.

Isn't life grand ... :)


--- H O T Sax, Flute, Horn Parts for your tunes A D A T W W N ---
EMC Music Services.................sax & flute perf, record eng/prod
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sax...@liberty.com (Everett Carroll) Garden Grove CA USA 714.539.7887
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Chad Bloom

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May 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/6/96
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> But, nevertheless, even with the Berg, I get >80% usables by buying
> hard and adjusting.
>

I'm curious - How long does it usually take you to shave the reed down and
have it playing the way you want it? I've recently been starting to
adjust my reeds with a reed knife, and have also been experimenting with
shaving a hard reed down. The problem I find in shaving a reed down is
that it just takes up so much practice time, and I really don't know if it
will die on me or be usable after all the work of shaving it down.

-chad

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