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 reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: rstanley 
Date:   2019-05-10 21:39

Hi All - I've recently strayed from using Vandoren Rue Lepic 3.5 Bb reeds on my Grabner G11*/Chadash barrel/Buffet R13/ and gone over to European reeds like Leuthner, Steuer, and most recently to Oklahoma's finest, Behn's Aria reeds. Of these I like the Aria the best (3.5 - 4) with the Leuthner a close 2nd. The Steuer Exclusives were very flat in the altissimo (as has been mentioned here before I think), but I'm finding the Aria to be a bit flat as well. I believe the Leuthner have the best pitch in the upper registers but I prefer the sound and playability of the Aria reed.

Has anyone else had this experience? Are there different reed styles from these makers to consider?

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-05-10 22:06

All of this depends on the mouthpiece facing. You must find what works the best for your mouthpiece. It is not a judgement on the reed's quality. For me, the Pilgerstorfer Dolce works on my mouthpiece but the Behn Aria on my Vintage II. On my old Kasper, the Steuer Classic works best, and my............

Your next Grabner G11* may need a different 'best' reed also.

You get the point

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2019-05-11 06:11

I love the Arias, but they do run soft, which can make altissimo flat. Do the Aria 4s make any difference over the 3.5s?

Another brand to try are the Pilgerstorfer Dolces. I ordered strength 4, after worrying it would be softer than my Aria 4s. I have only had them two days but so far they seem promising and seem to be ever so slightly stiffer, just enough to make tonguing and high notes easier than the Arias, with a similar ease of play. It is early days, though, so I will reserve judgement until they are broken in, adjusted and played on for several weeks.

My experience with Leuthners was they were much stiffer than the Arias (I ordered strength 4), so if you like the altissimo with those but the playability of Airas, you might try the Dolces in the same strength you favor in Aria to see if they work better.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-05-11 06:34

I have a trouble believing that the strength of a reed is causing the pitch to change. On all my mouthpiece /reed combinations, I have never noticed the reed causing a pitch problem up high. I can play C an octave and a half above the staff, and even above, on very soft reeds without having the pitch change. Maybe on a reed so soft that it closes up and barely speaks in any register. But the pitch would be lower in all registers anyway.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-05-11 08:17

Personally, I find the Aria reeds to dip in pitch in the altissimo when the facing is too long. Idk the specs of your mouthpiece but this could be the reason.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: rstanley 
Date:   2019-05-11 20:09

Yes, thanks for the useful feedback. I usually find an Aria 4 is better for pitch. The Dolces sound worth a try.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: rstanley 
Date:   2019-05-11 20:11

Ken -
I was surprised too, but in directly comparing the Leuchtner with a VD Rue Lepic there was no doubt that the Leuchtner was significantly flatter in the altissimo without affecting the lower ranges. I don't know enough about reed crafting to say why though.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-05-11 20:24

For me, Leutners seem to have a longer break-in period, and that might have something to do with your experience. Haven't noticed an altissimo pitch difference among performance-ready reeds, though.

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: TomS 
Date:   2019-05-12 02:14

Dolce #4 on Daddario Evolution MP works great ... no tuning problems. I really am good with this combo for warmth with clarity and easy control.

The Evolution MP has a compactness to the upper clarion register and above, and makes articulation crisp without thuddyness.

Give the Pilgerstorfers a try ... they have several different cuts ....

My 3-cents ...


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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-05-12 10:07

Depends on the facing and the length of the mouthpiece. Also the R13's do play flat in general, since the bore is larger now.

This is why some mouthpiece companies are making mouthpieces that tune to 442 and why some horns do NOT drop in pitch in the upper register. Vandoren has the BD13 442 mouthpiece and I have a Cicero 442 mouthpiece so you don't have to throw away your horns. Problem with the BD13 is it's very open. Not good for anyone except a few pros.

Barrels help. So you may want to look at 64mm barrels probably with a reverse taper.

I don't play on Buffet's but I do use Steuer reeds sometimes and they do NOT go flat. If they do have your mouthpiece facing fixed. Shortened to be exact. Maybe as short as 32 to 34. Depends on the tip opening. I also make my own reeds as well. If you use thick cane as mentioned above and you are playing flat, its not the reeds.

So as you can see with someone made millions of reeds at Rico, including designing the Grand Concert reeds which have sold millions, you need to trust me here. Yes some reeds die and collapse and go flat because this is simply horrible cane, but that's not the subject.

In almost all cases it's the bore of the clarinets and the length and bore size of plus the chamber of the mouthpieces. For example the Vandoren M13 is too long so you have to use a short barrel around 63mm's to 64mm's on R13 horns. I can hear it now, people will say they use a 65mm barrel and they are fine. That's great, I'm happy for you. But this player is reaching out for help and I think these are the answers he needs. Also maybe the orchestra or band is tuning high. At 442 there is little hope that the upper register on a Buffet R13 made today will hit 442 on a standard 65mm Buffet barrel. It's not gonna happen. Reeds won't help. He needs to change his setup a bit.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: rstanley 
Date:   2019-05-13 01:14

Bob - Thanks for the feedback. I have considered going for a shorter barrel but always thought it strange that I should have to go below 66mm. My older R13 in A uses a 65mm Chadash and I feel it's a much better horn than my 4 y/o Bb R13.

Of course...when the flutes in your orchestras tune sharp so that they feel they project then all hope is lost.


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 Re: reeds are flat in the altissimo
Author: eac 2017
Date:   2019-05-13 16:28

I am quite intrigued about your comment about the M13 and R13's. I play a Buffet Vintage model from 1988. Would you happen to know if the same observation applies for the Vintage? Thanks!

Liz Leckey

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