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What Strength Reed Should I Use?


What Strength Reed Should I Use?

by David

What strength reed should I use? 

Clarinet and saxophone reeds come in sizes or strengths.  Basically the higher the size number, the harder the reed. 

Young players just starting out tend to do best with a softer reed.  A size 2 or 2 ½ reed will blow freely without a huge effort.  As a player develops, a harder reed will offer more resistance resulting in a more refined sound. 

How do I know when it’s time to move up? 

Every player is different but after a year of playing (maybe two), it’s probably time to think about using a harder reed. 

 Some signs that you are ready:  

  • Harsh tone

  • Unintentional loud sound

  • Difficulty with high notes

  • Excessive squeaks and squawks

Try the next ½ size up and experiment with it.  If you’re turning purple or can’t start a note softly, it may be too hard or too soon. 

But hold on to those harder reeds and give them another try in a month or two.  Eventually you’ll be ready for them.