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 If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Axel 
Date:   2018-02-25 15:35

...then watch this video of Andreas Ottensamer playing the Brahms Trio with Sol Gabetta and Dejan Lazic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP5vWqmiWfU

At 16 seconds you will see, he plays one. As far I know, he uses PlayEasy system from Austrian mouthpiece maker Nick K├╝ckmeier.



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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Johan H Nilsson 
Date:   2018-02-25 16:18

IMO they lack some tone color in the high clarion and altissimo but I am not sure the difference is audible for the listener. No one can complain about Andreas' playing in this video.

They are very predictable regardless of temperature and humidity and are easy to use. I use them all the time on alto and bass.

---
'The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.' - George Orwell

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-02-25 19:47

Great player. Very different setup from what most of us play, and Brahms is not Debussy or, say, Lindberg. It isn't a matter of being skeptical or not; it's a matter of what a player decides best supports their music.

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Zacharywest158 
Date:   2018-02-27 23:43

IMO synthetic reefs are fantastic in certain situations. For example, they are lifesavers when playing in an opera pit. They will be unaffected by the heat and humidity that comes from being crammed into that small space, and by the time the sound leaves the pit and reaches the hall it will usually sound pretty good.

Zachary West
B.M. Clarinet Performance
Cleveland Institute of Music


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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: antaresclar 
Date:   2018-02-28 00:53

The only top notch performance I have ever heard on a legere or any other synthetic reed was a live performance by Mate Bekavac with the Kremerata Baltica. This includes the aforementioned video and any of the others often mentioned here. The fact of the matter is that many of us are conning ourselves into believing that these reeds play or sound better than cane. They are time saving devices which I find hamper the artistry to produce a truly beautiful sound. Efficiency (synthetic) Vs. Artistry (cane).

Garrick Zoeter

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2018-02-28 02:51

Interestingly, both Andreas Ottensamer and Mate Bekavac are German system (including Viennese one) clarinet players but it looks like Legere so far does not want to release more German cut reeds. The only available model is a regular German cut but it is very picky on mouthpieces. For example. it plays quite badly on Wurlitzer mouthpieces.

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2018-02-28 03:40

Legere's success is widely accepted...notably with Euro Signature. And I think we'd surprised how many pros keep a couple in their case...just in case.

And I'm kinda on Zach's side with this. They have a time and place. I use them exclusively with outdoor summer (swamp) playing. My 3.75 saved my butt for a Christmas concert a couple of months ago when a harsh cold front changed all my cane.

With all that said, I suspect many could make the switch too Legere 100% -if they had to- with great results. But for me, there's something special about a great cane reed. A quality I'm enjoying more frequently since switching to Aria. Frankly, if I had to rely on Vandoren reeds, I'd play on Legere Euro Signature permanently.

~Robert L Schwebel
Mthpc: Behn Vintage, Lig: Ishimori, Reed: Aria 4, Legere Euro Signature 3.75, Horns: Uebel Superior, Ridenour Lyrique

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2018-02-28 15:32

I've only done bried experiments with Legere, and the one I've bought is slightly too hard. It feels/responds differently, and listening to myself play I don't like the sound as much as a good cane reed.

However....

I recorded myself playing a decent cane reed and then the same passage on the legere, and I couldn't identify much difference in the sound. Certainly if I didn't know which recording was which, I wouldn't be able to clearly pick which one was the 'fake' reed. So consider what sound your audience hears as well - they won't hear the same thing that you do.

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2018-02-28 17:15

So far no one has noticed, that i play with legeres. And when i tell them, they don't believe it before i show the reed on my mouthpiece.

Two things: you have to find a mouthpiece that works with the reed. Not vice versa. Second, play for some time exclusive with synthetic reeds, don't change back and forth with cane.

To my experience it helps that the mouthpiece is quite open. Very important is, that the tip rail is quite wide, playing a legere needs the possibility to move the reed slightly up and down the reed table to adjust the strength of the reed and the colour of the sound and that has to be done without needing to put the reed tip above the mouthpiece tip.

According to my measurements f.ex. playeasy B1 (french system) mp is open about 1.20 mm from the tip and the lay is about 20mm, specs that you wouldn't expect from a manufacturer that speaks german!

Needless to say, that i don't find the playeasy mouthpieces to work very well with cane reeds.

Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2018-02-28 17:18

Must add, that is sort of a nice experience to play the clarinet instead of a reed!

Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: William 
Date:   2018-03-03 22:20

I've been using Forestone soprano, bass and saxophone reeds for about ten years now and no one has ever noticed. Tone quality rich and resonate throughout the entire clarinet range, response excellent and they are always ready to play, no moistening or prep needed. Highly recommended as an alternative to the current popular Legere reeds, which I personally do not like. The Forestone reed is a Japanese product and consists of a mixture of bamboo resin and plastic giving them a more cane like tone, which I think is superior to pure cane. Check out the Forestone website for more inflo. FWIW, I am not a performing artist for the company, just a very satisfied semi pro user.

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-03-04 01:22

I appreciate the comment above from Jarmo- it's really great to have this element of variability taken out of playing, like the flute and trumpet there is just the player and the instrument...
I have done some very successful performances and recordings using Legere (in one recording I'm not happy about intonation but can't blame the reed for that!) but do prefer a good cane reed.
Where I will 100% endorse Legere is for teaching, I'm doing that for more than 25 hours a week and will never go back to cane for teaching.
- great to be able to just pick up the clarinet/sax to demonstrate.
- don't have to worry that the reed is drying and warping the mouthpiece facing
Dn

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-04 02:40

As a mouthpiece maker and refacer I occasionally get requests by my clientele to make a mouthpiece which is "legere-ified." And so my goal in such an assignment is to make the playing experience as "cane-esque" as possible.

That is to say that a good quality cane reed is superior to plastic in its vitality. It rings more, has improved access to focus, point, and fine calibrations in response. Cane has a wider range. Range being all things: Dynamics, Color, Response, etc. Cane tunes higher by comparison as well. So playing on Legere may require a slightly sharper barrel or mouthpiece to compensate. And cane allows one to more easily and fluently access the extreme altissimo.

So when I voice a mouthpiece for Legere, I make sure it sounds more lively and rings more like a good cane reed. I typically make the facing a bit shorter and slightly more open to invite the player to support the reed with the embouchure in such a way as to "invisibly" focus better...without the sense of "adding bite to bring the sound in place." I make the rails and upper baffle finer to invite faster response, and snappier ping. These treatments further benefit the altissimo register as well...bonus!

In my experience a very open facing is NOT required to play on Legere. It is more about the concept of the player and the type of sound the player is looking to achieve. Indeed a slightly more open facing can help facilitate a touch more focus which Legere lacks by comparison to good cane, but I suggest an hundredth of a millimeter or two, but nothing drastic. Wide rails further dampen an already darker and duller experience, so I would not advise going with wider rails on plastic reeds. All reeds, whether cane or plastic are finicky with placement, and while plastic which is translucent makes it more difficult to properly align in place, a wide rail simply isn't what I would suggest.

Unless...

If a player is seeking a duller tone, then a mouthpiece with wider rails may well be preferred. But to be perfectly honest, one can achieve richness AND ring in the sound with fairly narrow rails when all other elements of a mouthpiece are properly balanced. Indeed material formulation, facing, chamber geometry, baffle contour, throat shape, chamber volume, and baffle entrance angle are extremely important in how beautifully a mouthpiece performs, and rail width is just one small component within the entire ecosystem.

Richness and ring in combination create tonal sweetness, and when one achieves those elements in the sound, darkness isn't needed. When one achieves "sweetness" the sound is sculpted in such a way that one needn't hide behind a vail of gauzy dullness. One can now stand up and celebrate the sound which has character, life, and personality...beautiful!

So a good cane reed playing experience provides response, comfort, resonance, and sweetness. To bring out those characteristics on a plastic reed, a well chosen mouthpiece or a properly voiced refacing is a necessary component. That mouthpiece should add life and zing to compensate for plastic's lack of. And when life and zing are added, the player won't feel the flaws of plastic as much.

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: If you are sceptical concerning synthetic reeds...
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2018-03-04 12:52

It's interesting to follow the use of adjectives to describe the sound of a clarinet. What is dull to someone is dark, covered, mysterious to others and on the other side, i heard a string player colleaque once describe a sound that in my opinion was an excellent example of a bright, resonant and lively sound, a "mouth-harmonica-sound"!

About the rails, i wrote only about the tip rail. It's completely true, that those who favor ehm... dark and mysterious sound tend to prefer wider rails. I also believe that these people also tend to prefer the feeling that whenever they want something more resonant, they want to deliberately act to achieve it, someone might say force it out of the instrument. And to that playerpersonality it can be quite uncomfortable to play a reed/mouthpiece combination, where they sort of have to avoid certain sound qualities.

The tip rail is different, you can adjust the width of it. The effective width of the rail is from the bottom edge of the rail to the top end of the reed. When you lower the reed on the table, the reed plays more resonant and feels slightly softer as long as it doesn't start to leak from the top corners. If the tip rail is thin, like in older vandoren mouthpieces, under 1mm, you have no room for adjustment.

Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

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