Reeds for Soprano

Unless you’re new to playing saxophone, you already know that finding the right brand and strength of reed can be a tough and frustrating job. For soprano saxophone, I think it’s one of the most important things a player has to accomplish because it sets things up for the “real work” of developing the response and sound, and the music itself.

Poor reed choice can set a player up for frustration and even failure, perhaps.

So, let me say this about soprano saxophone reeds: I do not endorse any product and I have no formal or even informal agreement with any reed manufacturers. But I do have some very strong opinions about my reed choices.

First, I feel that many manufacturers have devoted little, if any, attention to making superior soprano reeds. Consequently, there are a lot of brands that, to me, are, well……….. terrible.

That includes a number of very well known brands, and that includes reeds that many, many players seem to like.

So, I certainly do believe that REED CHOICE IS VERY PERSONAL ! If you like the reeds you are using, they are good reeds and that’s that. As Duke Ellington famously said: “If it sounds good, it IS good!”

BUT…….. here is what I have found about soprano reeds- there are a few brands that seem to have put something extra into their soprano reed offerings. In no particular order, they are Marca, Hemke and Alexander. They are different one from the other, with Marca being the brightest and Hemke being the darkest. But they all exhibit a liveliness and responsiveness that, to me, is important in selecting a soprano reed.

And, I am not a purist about reeds. There are synthetics that can play and sound great. Once, I asked Lee Konitz what was new, and he answered: “I’m playing plastic reeds now” (that was in the 1980s). I was shocked then but I am no longer shocked. There are great synthetic choices for soprano sax which include Hahn, Fibracell and Legere Signature.

Again, what works for you is what counts.

But if you are not happy with the sound or response you are acheiving, try a different brand.