The Scoop On Reeds For Clarinets and Saxophones

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The Scoop On Reeds For Clarinets and Saxophones
Reeds are small wedges of a bamboo like cane material that are attached to the mouthpiece to produce the sound on clarinets and saxophones.  The instruments from most rental stores will come with two reeds. However, beginning students are usually pretty rough on reeds and they break them easily, so I recommend purchasing a box of reeds, which will also save you money over buying them individually.

The easiest way to obtain reeds is to call Treble Clef at 708-598-7208. Mr. Oliver, from Treble Clef, visits our school every Thursday morning at 8:30. All you have to do is call and he will bring them on his next visit. However, if you order reeds from Treble Clef, you must then have your student come to the band room and ask me for them as I don't have time to go find students every time someone orders reeds.

Reeds also come in different hardness categories. Our beginning band students will be using No. 2 1/2 reeds; that's two and a half; the higher the number, the harder and stiffer the reed. Harder reeds get a better sound but they are more difficult to play. Softer reeds are easier to play but don't have the best sound. A No. 2 1/2 reed is just right for beginners.

There are also many different brands and quality levels. Rico No. 2 1/2 reeds are a good reed for beginners. Rico also makes Rico Royal, which are supposed to be better quality but they will cost a little more. VanDoren also makes very good reeds. For now, I would recommend standard Rico No. 2 1/2 reeds for both clarinet and saxophone students.

If you purchase reeds from a vendor other than Treble Clef, make sure they are No. 2 1/2. There is a store on Wolf Rd. in Mokena, just south of 191st street called All About Music. They should have these reeds in stock but I recommend that you call first to make sure. Their phone number is 708-479-0440. Other local music stores may have reeds as well. You can also order on line at

Again, I would highly recommend that you purchase a box of reeds. Learning to play clarinet or saxophone can be challenging enough, even with a good reed. Trying to play with a bad reed makes it ten times harder. I would also recommend that you not give your student the entire box of reeds at once and that you instruct them to be very careful with their reeds as they are very delicate. Reeds can last as long as a month or more if they are handled carefully and kept dry and in a holder while not in use. However, as soon as a reed is chipped or cracked, it should be thrown away and replaced. Students should also try to rotate their reeds so they don’t play the same one all the time. All students should have at least two good reeds at all times.

One accessory for reeds that makes a nice small gift is a reed holder. They come in different styles and sizes and hold two or four reeds. Reed holders can be ordered through Treble Clef.
I think that covers it. If you have any questions about reeds, please feel free to email
or call any time.

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