Reeds are a strange part of the Woodwind players arsenal – on the one hand, a good reed can make all the difference to a players tone. A bad reed can be the bane of the players existence!
The science of choosing a reed is a bit like the science of choosing guitar strings - there isn't one! Every player will have their own favourite brand, strength and even position, so it will take a bit of trial and error before you find what's best for you.
If you have been looking for a clarinet, it is likely that you will have been faced with choosing between wooden and plastic. The standard rule is that beginners use plastic clarinets and intermediate and advanced players will play a wooden one. If you are not sure which one is for you, we have put together a short guide of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Whilst keeping this in mind, the most important thing to consider is which one suits you!
The reed is the generator of the sound of a clarinet/saxophone through its vibration. It is crucial in determining the type and quality of sound produced. They are produced from cane which is meticulously cut and shaved to precise dimensions to produce a reed of specific cut or strength. The main reed manufacturers are Rico and Vandoren, who between them make the majority of the world’s reeds.