Chapter 3: Saxophone reed care and position"The Definite guide for beginner saxophone"

Saxophone reed care and position

In this chapter you'll learn how to take care of your saxophone reeds, so that they will last longer and you'll be able to play them a lot better.
We also take a look at how to position the reed correctly on the mouthpiece, which is an important step to ensure the best vibration of the reed.

Saxophone reeds

Without it there will be no sound at all. So, it's an essential part of your saxophone efforts for sure.

You will eventually find out that a reed can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. We all go through this and it's part of the process of becoming friends with the saxophone.

However, there are a few things that will make it easier for you to deal with a stubborn reed and that's why I'd like to share my best saxophone reed care tips with you to easy any frustration.

Before that, I'd like to give you some more facts about saxophone reeds. Getting an understanding about them will help you fixing and evaluating the condition of a reed.


Facts about sax reeds

Lets look at some basic facts about reeds, so that you will get an understanding of what actually happens to a warped reed. That way it will be easier for you to prevent getting them in the future as well as knowing what to do if you end up with one.

The saxophone cane reeds are made from the Arundo donax plant, which is referred to as the giant cane or reed cane. It's tall and slim and usually round in it's original shape. You'll find the plant mainly in the mediterranean region, where the reed manufactures takes the raw material and turns it into saxophone reeds. It's the base material for all reed makers and is used for creating reeds to all woodwind instruments.

They've gone through quality checks during the manufacturing process, but still they can variate in quality quite a bit.

When you soak a reed it will not get evenly soaked throughout the entire reed unless you give it a few minutes. I'm not gonna get to "technical saxophone geek" on you here, but basically there are small channels in the reed that needs to get filled up with the moist from your saliva or the tap before it can even out any warped reed.

How to fix warped reeds

Let the warped reed soak fully immersed in water for about 5-7 minutes. That will give it enough time to absorb the water into the channels of the reed and even it out. However, in some cases you may need to put a little bit more work into straightening it.

In those cases I use a quick fix that will determine if I can save the the reed or if I should just throw it away and get another one.

First of all, you must make sure that the reed is wet, which I've already talked about. After that I follow this easy 3 step procedure to flatten the saxophone reed. It works about 8 times out of 10, which is great and it saves a lot of money at the same time.

Saxophone reed care tips

Now you know how to fix a warped reed. However, you can prevent your reeds from this in the first place by following these two easy steps:

1. Always remove the reed from the mouthpiece after playing

2. Store the reed in a reedguard or in the reed box

Common issues with Saxophone reeds

You want to keep the reeds evenly moist at all times, so that they will work well for you. If you are in air conditioned settings or in overall dry conditions this could become an issue.

The reeds tends to "die" on you and it can be hard to find a good working sax reed.

That's why some players choose to keep their reeds in a cigar box with constant humidity. However, I've never felt the need of using that.

Instead I like to keep a few extra reeds in a reed guard that I keep moist and rotate between practice sessions and gigs.


Quick tips and takeaways from this chapter

  • Always soak the reed before playing for best performance. Use your mouth or rinse under water
  • Always keep at least 2 reeds going in case you break or wear out one of them. That way you always have a backup
  • Always remove the reed from the mouthpiece and store it in a reed guard to preserve it until the next practice session
  • Never adjust the reed position by pressing down on the tip of the reed. That’s the easiest way to break a reed!

Position the sax reed on the mouthpiece

  • Y

    This is the correct position. If your mouthpiece look like this when the reed is applied then you have prepared for a good practice session with your saxophone.

Chapter 3: Saxophone reed care and position"The Definite guide for beginner saxophone"

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I made this to help as many aspiring saxophone players as possible, so I truly appreciate your support. Thanks! ~ Greger Hillman