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Old 02-03-2008, 04:18 PM
RainTurtle RainTurtle is offline
Junior Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 5
Default Clarinet Reeds

Hi, all.

In some places, you'll find that the only people who play on 4 1/2 reeds without seriously altering the reed with a knife are the high school students. The last time I played on a 4 was in grade 7. I usually play on a 1 1/1 or a 2. Sometimes, I'll use a 2 1/2 if I'm playing something in the altissimo register and I feel like being lazy. At university, typically the clarinet majors use 2 1/2 or a 3 depending on the brand of reed, so you won't need to feel inferior if you are not playing a 4 1/2 or 5 or whatever.

That said, if you like playing on an unaltered 4 1/2, and you get a good sound with it without too much extra effort (or even if it does take a lot of extra effort, but you just want the bragging rights), there is no real reason not to do so.

Stiffer reeds make the highest notes easier to play, so if you need a "crutch" to get the high notes to speak, having a stiff reed in your reed-case may be handy.

Softer reeds give you more options. There are things that can be done with the dynamics and tone that a stiff reed simply won't let you do. For example, that trick of coming in on a pianissimo note so softly that the audience can't tell when the note starts.... Also, it is much easier to get a lovely tone, even when you are not in top form. (If nothing else, that is something to remember if you ever need to play an exam or festival when you are sick.)

By way of explanation, although I'm new to the forum, I've played clarinet since 1983 or so, and I have a degree in Music, majoring in Woodwind Performance.

Have fun.

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