Minor Music
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Reed 411


How often does your middle schooler replace the reed in his saxophone? The experts we spoke with all agreed that 2 months is a reasonable lifespan for your average reed.

When you play a woodwind instrument, the sound is produced as a result of the vibration of the reed. So, it’s important that the reed is in proper playing condition. Our friends at Selmer share some advice for young players.¬†Michael Holmes, Director of Marketing for Saxophones reminds young players to look for obvious signs of wear.

“Chips,¬†cracks and thinning all detract from the reed’s ability to vibrate properly, ” he says.

Natural reeds are made from the Giant Cane plant (aka the Arundo donax). It’s a sustainable plant grown, often organically, in many parts of the world. But also getting some buzz lately are synthetic reeds. These are made from a polypropylene material designed to mimic the characteristics of cane.

Holmes encourages young players to opt for the natural reeds over synthetic. “Synthetic reeds certainly have their place,” he says. “But it won’t have the same qualities of natural reed.”

For most student applications, Holmes prefers the earthier, warmer tone produced from a natural reed over the brighter, edgier sound of a synthetic reed.

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