The thing that might push you over the top could potentially be the little extra help of the saxophone reed, whether you’ve just picked up a saxophone and are learning the tricks of the trade or if you feel that your musical abilities have reached a plateau. The saxophone reed may appear little, but it has a significant impact on sound quality and your ability to add notes when playing a certain genre. Your music may soar to new heights with the best alto saxophone reeds.
Of course, the saxophone reed is pretty little physically. However, it is regarded as one of your saxophone’s most crucial components, particularly in terms of tone and sound. In fact, if you want to be that bold, you could even say that it is THE most crucial component. The first step toward achieving the rich, warm tones you’ve been searching for all along is to assist you in selecting the appropriate sax reed for your instrument and ability level. On our guide today are some of the most well-known brands, including Vandoren and Legere.
Table of Contents
Vandoren SR213 Alto Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 3
- Traditional reeds are known for their excellent response in all registers, allowing a pianissimo attack in even highest notes.
- Extremely flexible, allowing the legato or staccato execution of large intervals while maintaining a richness of tone that gives body and clarity to...
- Traditional reeds are available for all clarinets and saxophones in various strengths.
It should come as no surprise that a Vandoren reed tops our list. This French company is as well-known in the reed industry as Selmer Paris is in the saxophone industry. Reeds have been produced by Vandoren since 1905, therefore they are experts in their field. These specific ones are among the most well-liked reeds in the world because of how adaptable they are for reed strengths. There are instances when you just want to buy reeds without doing much homework. You simply want a solution that is reliable. For many folks, these are a go-to option.
The 3-strength reed (SR213), though it is available in strengths ranging from 1.5 to 5, with 0.5 increments, would be the ideal pairing for an alto sax. These are incredibly flexible, allowing the saxophone players to execute long intervals legato or staccato without losing any tone richness. Additionally, it provides a clean, rich sound that is characteristic of Vandoren reeds at this price point.
Sax players can utilise the Vandoren SR213 reed when performing for concert bands, UIL solos, and ensemble pieces. Their quality surpasses that of a jazz band or small combination because of their outstanding reaction in all registers. Even with high notes, a saxophonist may execute a pianissimo assault correctly.
The Vandoren SR213 offers a warm toned, mellow sound with a very thin tip. Crisp and clear, it leaves little room for throaty or harsh tones. Each reed also comes in a sealed “Flow Pack” that protects it from humidity and keeps it fresh and ready to play because they are made of cane. They cost about $3 per reed if you buy a box of 10, which in my opinion is a reasonable amount given how much superior they are than less expensive choices. It’s an inexpensive method to improve your sound right away! This is the Best Alto Saxophone Reed in 2023.
D’Addario Rico Select Jazz Alto Sax Reeds
- Huge sound with powerful projection
- Strength 3S, Filed cut, box of 10 reeds
- Outstanding control and projection
One of the top alto sax java reeds is the D’Addario Rico Select Jazz, according to our guide. The D’Addario Rico Select Jazz comes in a wide range of sizes, from third strengths in the 2-4 range through soft, medium, and hard, and has a big sound with great projection.
They produce reeds, mouthpieces, and various accessories, and D’Addario bought them in 2004. The brand Rico was already well-known in the reed manufacturing industry. D’Addario was hesitant to change the name as a result. As a result, they added it to their own profile. Reeds for the saxophone called the Rico Jazz Select were created especially for jazz musicians.
Additionally, the D’Addario Rico Select Jazz is offered in two variations, filed and unfiled. This particular brand and design of saxophone is distinguished by its well-defined features, including a lengthier vamp and a structured heart. It projects beautifully and has a clear, fuller tone. It is ideal for jazz because of its crisper tone. For the jazz notes, the D’Addario Rico Select Jazz also offers flexibility and a lightning-quick response. Along with the protection provided by the strong spine, the premium cane characteristic makes it suited to last for a longer period of time.
Rico operates a cutting-edge reed research lab from its location in the San Fernando Valley, which aids in the creation of reeds like the D’Addario. Mark Nuccio, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Potter, Benny Golson, Ernie Watts, Bob Sheppard, Henri Bok, Richie Hawley, Eric Alexander, and many others have used Rico Select Jazz and equipment. This reed contributes to creating a powerful tone with lots of projection. Smooth, bright, and noticeable in the band’s instrumentation. They provide outstanding sound control as well. A premium reed that is offered in boxes of 10. This is the Best Saxophone Reed for Jazz in 2023.
Légère Reeds Premium Synthetic Woodwind Reed
- CLEAR AND EXPRESSIVE SOUND. The Signatures for Saxophone respond without hesitation. They are thinner and stiffer than a traditional cane reed, making...
- SYNTHETIC FOR DURABILITY AND LONGEVITY. Legere synthetic reeds are not affected by environmental conditions such as high humidity. Legere reeds last...
- NO PRECONDITIONING. Legere reeds are ready to play. You won’t need to pre-soak a Legere reed to get the perfect pitch. Ready to play when you are!
The Legere Signature ASSS3.25 is an alto sax reed that is one of the most modernized forms of the signature Series technology for a synthetic pricing and a high-quality product. Legere employs the same process to make a synthetic sax reed that has a 3 in strength and a ground-breaking design from its previously successfully used clarinet reeds.
The Legere Signature ASSS3.25 synthetic reed has the same qualities as a damp cane, but what makes it unique is that you can play right away without having to pre-condition it. In contrast to other synthetic reeds with a bad reputation, it is made entirely of non-toxic materials, and the producer stands by it so strongly that it has both an exchange and a 30-day refund policy.
With this premium alto sax reed, you also won’t get the terrible, artificial sound that comes with a plastic or synthetic reed. The Legere Signature ASSS3.25 is known for its clean, expert tone that doesn’t become dry over time like that of other synthetic reeds. You can easily pick them up and play without wetting them. Customers have even gone so far as to claim that you can hardly detect the difference between how they play and cane reeds.This is the Best Saxophone Reeds in 2023.
Vandoren SR613 Alto Sax V.12 Reeds Strength 3
- Thicker heel with longer palette for more vibration
- Deep, rich sound with body to the attack due to the thicker tip resulting in longer lasting reeds
- Also available in other strengths
With 10 reeds sealed in a flow pack, you can be sure that you’ll have replacements for a very long time. These reeds are not only made of high-quality wood, but they also have a thicker heel and a longer palette to assist produce more vibration. This quality control will help you achieve the tone and notes you’ve been aiming for as well as distinguish your sound from other saxophones in use.
The sound of the thicker tip is not the only benefit of it; it also makes the tip last longer, allowing you to play more without having to replace it and paying more. This helps you produce that deep, rich sound with the body of the reed.
This includes a range of strengths to better fit your instrument and music and is available in strengths 2.5–4. The Vandoren SR613’s reeds are “Flow Pack”-sealed to solitude, preserving their freshness with each open. The Vandoren brand, which has been around for 25 years, has translated its clarinet success to the saxophone.
D’Addario Reserve Alto Saxophone Reeds
- DISCONTINUED: This discontinued reed is now available in our new organic reed!
- HEAVY SPINE: Heavy spine provides dynamic flexibility and exceptional tone quality in all registers
- ADVANCED PLAYERS: Ideal for the advancing student and professional
The Reserve reeds may be just what you’re searching for if you’re an accomplished performer who needs reeds that provide you dynamic versatility and let your tone shine regardless of the register you’re playing in. The Reserves are heavy-spined, thick, blank reeds that give you excellent control and produce a beautiful tone. You can play what you’re hearing in your head because to the superb projection and responsiveness.
Have you ever had a lot of excellent music playing in your head but couldn’t get it out when you tried to play it? Simply put, it doesn’t sound as fantastic as you had hoped. That may be the result of reeds not giving you what you require.
Since the Reserve Reeds offer such remarkable control, even in the low register, where many people frequently struggle, it is likely that you will find it much simpler to compose music with them. Advanced or even professional players are most likely to notice a difference, these reeds are suitable for beginners. In my opinion, the D’Addario Reserves are fantastic as budget pick.
D’Addario Hemke Alto Sax Reeds
- Shorter vamp for a darker tone
- Strength 3.0, Filed cut, box of 5 reeds
- Balanced, slightly thinner tip for quick response and articulation
The D’Addario Hemke Alto Sax Reeds may provide you with high quality at an affordable price. The D’Addario Hemke Alto Sax Reed has a strength of 3 but is available in a range from 2-4 and has a tone that is darker than others on the market and has a shorter vamp. It also includes a filed cut and is bundled with a box of five reeds, which may account for the low cost given that most other reeds are sold in packages of ten.
Do you like Frederick L. Hemke’s work? Find him if you aren’t sure who it is! His album Simple Gifts is my personal favourite; it’s fantastic! But why, when I’m meant to be talking to you about saxophone reeds, am I suddenly waxing lyrical about Fred Hemke? It’s because Rico inspired the name of these reeds! These are the reeds to choose if you enjoy Hemke’s incredibly gentle tone and want to play similarly to him.
The shorter vamp on the Hemke reeds produces a deeper tone. As a result, the bottom register sounds fantastic and the low notes are more audible than usual. To properly use these reeds, which were created with expert players in mind, you must be skilled. They are constructed from premium-grade cane, and agronomists, physicists, and musicians worked on their creation while carefully considering every aspect.
Many classical and traditional jazz saxophonists seek out that gloomy tone, which may be produced by using the filed cut that we already explained to deepen the harmonics. The D’Addario Hemke Alto Sax Reed is appropriate for a musical that wants to achieve the classic, round-chambered mouthpiece sound. It is basic in design but produces excellent sound. The response is a little more spontaneous, and the cut’s form clarifies the tone and facilitates gentle strikes. The D’Addario Hemke Alto Sax Reed is the result of years of science-based study and years of tweaking till perfection, backed by a reputable name like Rico.
Choose the best alto saxophone reeds buying guide
You should concentrate on each reed’s distinctive properties in order to choose the ideal one.
These characteristics not only enable you to determine if you are purchasing high-quality reeds or not, but they also enable you to determine whether the reed is appropriate for your level or style of music.
You may have noticed the figures in relation to the “strength” of your saxophone reed that were given above.
Typically, the range was measured from 2-4, like the most of the reeds on this site. The saxophone reed strength scale truly runs from 1 (the softest) to 5 (the hardest), even though there were none listed here with this range. These numbers are printed directly on each reed as well as frequently on packaging.
It’s also possible to see the strength described using phrases like “soft,” “medium,” or “hard,” which can be relatively easy to understand.
Your starting point should be softer the more inexperienced you are, which is why our student saxophone, the D’Addario RJA1030, starts at 1.5. You can go up to a harder number as you get better.
The standard scale is basically a straightforward indicator of resistance and cane stiffness, which directly affects playing quality.
The traditional reed is often made from a particular variety of grass called Arundo Donax, which is renowned for its deep tone. Similar to the D’Addario RJA1030, the Arundo Donax reed is also known as the cane reed. It normally originates from France, but it can also be found coming from Argentina or Spain.
Although this cane sound is regarded as the gold standard, each cane has a distinctive sound, therefore no two cane reeds are exactly same!
If you lack the funds to purchase a natural cane reed, you can choose a synthetic alternative, such as the Legere Signature ASSS3.25. Despite having a terrible reputation, the material’s quality—while synthetic—can be fairly high. For instance, they do have the benefit of being completely consistent from reed to reed as well as through time.
The synthetic cane also needs less upkeep and maintenance because it doesn’t need conditioning or softening like a natural cane would. Additionally, the synthetic material is unaffected by the weather, allowing children worry-free outdoor play.
It has also been known to select a reed based on the style of music. If you’re intending to play the saxophone, you should definitely look for a reed with a deeper tone.
You should aim for the type we indicated above, which creates a considerably brighter tone, if you’re specifically interested jazz music.
The strength of the reed serves as a proxy for the size of the reed. For a beginner, a 1.5 to 2 size will be ideal, however a greater strength size emits the harsh tone that most pros seek.
The cane’s design is mostly responsible for the sound that the reeds generate.
Before purchasing a reed, you should absolutely do some research because some of them are more suited to emit a darker or deeper tone while others are especially made to emit a brighter and more jovial tone.
The reed can be bought either filed or unfiled.
The bark is straightened when a reed is filed, commonly known as a “double cut,” by removing a small layer of bark from the back. This promotes a more fluid vibration, which results in a jazzier, brighter sound. For beginners, it’s also a better and far quicker response, which is helpful when learning.
However, the un-filed reeds (also known as “single cut”) lack that final cut, producing a tone that is more robust, deeper, and darker. Additionally, it will lessen the intensity and volume of vibration.
You should definitely try both sorts if you’re just getting started to choose which you like most.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the reeds from other saxophone types fit my alto sax?
Possibly in good physical shape. However, the right kind of reed must match the right kind of saxophone. Therefore, if you plan to play the alto sax, you must use a reed made especially for that saxophone instrument. Reeds for the soprano and tenor saxes will differ in size, shape, and pattern. The harmony of your sound will be perfect if you take the extra step and find one that matches and fits properly.
How long do alto saxophone reeds last?
There is no simple solution to this problem; it all depends on how frequently, what kind, and how your saxophone is played after each playing session. While some reeds can withstand three months of intense use, others will break down after just two. In this case, quality and maintenance go hand in hand. However, buying a reed package with a high quantity, like 10, will always be profitable.
Does the alto sax reed quality depend on the brand?
Naturally, purchasing a brand name entails investing in the product’s reputation as opposed to merely the actual goods. However, the manufacturing process—and ultimately, creating high-quality material—is how the reed acquires its reputation brand.
Investing in a company that makes use of subpar resources or hurries manufacturing is absolutely not a good idea. The process is challenging, from cultivating cane properly through the actual production process, which presents the chance for excellence when the organization takes its time.