Monday, April 27, 2009

C Melody Sax reeds

A frequent question we get at Rico from players relates to what type of reed to use on C Melody Sax. As many of you know, the C Melody sax is pitched in C instead of Bb for Tenor or Eb for Alto. While there is limited ensemble use for C Melody Sax (wind and military band), the fact that it doesn't transpose makes it a versitle horn for reading music written for C instruments.

The C Melody sax is larger than the alto sax and smaller than the tenor sax. With regards to mouthpieces, a true C Melody mouthpiece is similar to a tenor sax mouthpiece. With this type of C Melody Sax mouthpiece, bass clarinet like Rico Royal or Grand Concert Select reeds work well.

However many people simply use an alto sax mouthpiece on C Melody Sax. If you are using an alto sax mouthpiece then alto sax reeds should be used such as Rico Royal or Rico reeds. You can also try the Reserve Alto or Reserve Tenor reeds.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Special Reed Boxes I have Known...

Special Reed Boxes I Have Known…

By Mike Zucek-North Central Regional Sales Manager

Last month, I left you with a teaser…regarding the old brown Rico “wood grain” boxes. Well, would you believe that the original Rico boxes were actually constructed of real California redwood! They were beautifully made, with dovetailed corners and a paper “cigarette pack” seal. They had a full length fabric hinge and to top it all off, were wrapped in orange/yellow cellophane. (These are now real “finds” for the collector!) After WWII, redwood was getting expensive and a change was in order to help keep down the cost of the reeds. Why not eliminate the wood, but keep the wood appearance! The “wood-grain” box was the logical result. This package continued in use until the early 1980’s, when the now ubiquitous “orange box” came on the scene.

In 1983, the Rico Company decided to produce a new package that eliminated all the layers of tissue that were used to separate the reeds. The Dispensapak was the result and was an immediate…….FAILURE! We knew right away that something was wrong as many customers promptly spilled the reeds on the floor while trying to figure out how to operate this new “trick” package! We immediately performed a costly re-design based on the time proven “Novapak reed holder” and learned a valuable lesson about the “KISS” principal in the process. Our quick about face, while not totally avoiding some embarrassment, allowed us to finally arrive at the right package and, more importantly, avoid forcing our mistake on the customer.

In 1987, Rico produced a special “sampler pack” for its line of Mitchell Lurie and Frederick L. Hemke Premium reeds. These packages held 8 reeds in Novapaks with an assortment of strengths from 2 ½ through 4 ½. They were in attractive, three inch square, “shrink-wrapped” boxes that were clearly marked S A M P L E R on one end flap.

Likewise, a few years later, when Rico introduced the ground-breaking Grand Concert clarinet reeds in ¼ strengths, another sampler pack was made available. These were based on the same package that the GC reeds were normally available in, but with the addition of a gold band seal that covered three sides of the box. On this seal was printed “Compliments of Rico International” and “Reed Strengths 3, 3 ¼, 3 ½, 3 ¾, 4” and finally “Complimentary Sample”. The white box held “standard blank” models and the dark blue box held “thick blank”.

Finally, perhaps the most unique reed package ever produced by Rico….the “Inaugural Reed Sampler”… “In Commemoration of President Bill Clinton, Music Enthusiast January 20, 1993”. These reeds were actually presented to president Clinton at the White House, but also made available in limited numbers to attendees at the 1993 Winter NAMM show. Each sampler consisted of an assortment of 4 reeds (2 Rico Plasticover, 1 La Voz and 1 Rico Royal in a Reedgard IV) for soprano, alto, tenor or baritone sax. The box was white with a blue banded overwrap, and had a picture of the White House at the top front. The Rico logo was in red and each reed, rather than being stamped with a brand name, was instead marked “1993 Inaugural Reed”. The Plasticover reeds had white lettering and one each of the remaining reeds was in red and blue.

In some future postings, I’ll get into the packaging history of Rico family brands that for many years never bore the Rico name!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Filed vs. Unfiled?

A lot of people ask about the difference between filed and unfiled reeds. Here's a brief explanation:

An option to fine-tune the sound, the file is often preferred by players who use traditional, moderately resistant, dark-sounding mouthpieces– the file helps such mouthpieces blow more freely.

For those who play relatively easy-blowing, moderate-to-bright mouthpieces (especially jazz or pop sax mouthpieces with a high baffle), an unfiled reed is usually preferred.

The French File (or “file”) is the area behind the vamp (or cut portion) where the bark is sanded
off in a straight line.

The File-
  • Provides ease of response, especially in the low register… …making soft attacks easier.
  • Also makes the tone slightly brighter… …for use with resistant mouthpieces.

An unfiled reed provides a darker tone and more resistance; a filed reed provides a brighter tone and is more free-blowing.

Recommended use of filed or unfiled reeds for common sax mouthpieces:

• Meyer
• Otto Link
• Selmer rubber

• Dukoff
• Beechler
• Selmer metal
• Guardala
• Berg Larsen

Rico offers the following filed reeds: Rico Royal, Reserve (saxophone) Rico Select Jazz, Hemke, and Grand Concert Select

The following reeds are unfiled: La Voz, Rico, Rico Rico Select Jazz

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Changing Seasons and Reeds

As we approach summer it is important to remember how the seasons and humidity affect our reeds.

Depending on your specific location summer can mean many different things in relation to reeds and RH (Relative Humidity). But, the most important point to remember is that the less change that happens to the reed, the better!

In other words, when the reed is not in use it is best to have it stored in a humidity-controlled case. The new Rico Reed case is ideal for keeping the reeds in a constant state of humidification. What this means to players is that the reeds will not be as prone to warpage on the table and at the tip. 

When you wet the reed and get those wavy tips, it can be due to the reed drying out un-evenly. This not only makes it take longer to warm-up the reed, but it also decreases the longevity or life of the reed as it is going through more changes.

The Rico Reedvitalizer system utilizes a Two-Way humidity control system that can both add moisture to the reed or take moisture out of the reed if it is too wet.  

The system comes in three different RH levels:
58% - Stable, long-term storage
73% - Requires minimal wetting
84% - Ready to play

In my next installment, we will explore how different people use the different Humidity levels for the break-in process... Stay Tuned.....