Better Than Cane

Millicent Stephenson Sax set up Jody Jet Hartmann Rovner

Please excuse me for just a moment while I geek about Saxophone reeds..but I‘ll keep this simple.

On the saxophone there is a part that goes in the Saxophone player’s mouth called the mouthpiece.  The mouthpiece has an opening which the reed, a small piece of filed Cane, covers over.   The reed is secured to the mouthpiece with a band of metal or other material, and we call this band the ‘Ligature’.    The mouthpiece and reed goes into your mouth and you blow.  I won’t describe the blowing technique or the intricacies of lining up the reed but what I will say is your air vibrates the reed which allows the saxophone to sound.

There are lots of things which need to be in balance, however, to get a really good sound from your Sax e.g. your posture, your ability, the quality of your instrument, quality of your mouthpiece, and so on but your reed is key to your sound. 

Over the years I’ve used cane reeds, some good, some not so good.  While they are responsive they have to be moist to work well.  They dry out when not in use.     Also since the recession I’ve noticed the quality of Cane reeds has decreased. They don’t last as long. Within a box of reeds there are probably one may be two really good ones, the rest you have to work on or discard.    

Millicent Stephenson Sax Hartmann Hemp Reed Jody Jet 8 Rovner Ligature set up
Mouthpiece ready to blow!

So I’ve been on the hunt for something better than Cane, something I can put on my instrument and it plays straight away.  No warming up.  No moistening.  A reed that responds like Cane to the different playing techniques.  It must not dry out while I’m on a break at my Gig or if I’m talking or singing within my set.  A big ask, but you know what, I’ve found it!

When I came across Harry Hartmann Fiberreed I did my research.  I like the concept of the Hartmann ‘Hemp’ reed.  I thought, ‘A reed made of 80% natural materials and 20% synthetics? This I’ve got to try!’ and to my surprise, I have found it better than Cane.  Good longevity while maintaining warmth and responsiveness.  I should say that I’ve tried synthetic reeds by other manufacturers but for me they lose their responsiveness quickly unlike Hartmann’s Fiberreeds.  

Now, I know the price can be a turn-off and you’re thinking you can get a box of reeds for that. It was something I had to weigh up for myself but trust me I have found that one reed is brilliant and works every time.  As mentioned before, you can buy a box of Cane but there is no guarantee what you will get when you open them.  My Fiberreed goes the distance.

Is Harry Hartmann’s Fiberreed better than cane?  I say it is.  Try it for yourself. Click here to go to Harry Hartmann’s website.

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