Legere synthetic reed, and what to play it on, and how, and what to change.

This entry was first written in 2007. There have been many changes in all of the synthetics available. Legere itself has produced other cuts and models, its newest being its best.I have found a synthetic which for me, is the closest to cane, without the inconsistencies of cane.

To those readers who have an interest in Legere, here is a candid story from a doubler who has given Legere a very comprehensive try and has had some good results, also my own response, which as you know, was a bit different. I hope that this can be of some help in discerning whether a try of this synthetic would be of interest.In the end, I have reached a slightly different conclusion on this product, one based upon a long trial and comments such as those of Mr Aldridge.
The conclusion is quite simple: If you are searching for a reed that will allow you to play without preparing the reed prior to blowing it, this reed may be for you. You can put it right on , blow and it will play. Now, as to what contortions you may go through and also put your equipment through before becoming satisfied, that is quite another story.
The sound is only acceptable for a few minutes, then you begin searching: mouthpiece,ligature, reed strength, even instrument. If you have to alternate reeds in order to play them you are in the same ballpark as cane. Just what is it that you are doing? It plays immediately. So?
I myself, prefer cane reeds. I have never been kept from playing no matter how many times I have given clinics or taught while playing because of a dry or weird reed. I usually speak durng the performance of a concert of chamber music without fail. It is a way of becoming friendly with the audience and it is also informative. Never has a cane reed stopped me from speaking, or demonstrating.
best regards, sherman
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Sherman,

Speaking from my personal experience, I ended up changing mouthpieces and ligatures in order to get the best possible results I could with Legere reeds. I discovered that Legere reeds work better on some mouthpiece facings than others. When I tried Legere reeds on some mouthpieces the results were absolutely terrible. But, on another mouthpiece….hooray.

Most of my performances are in doubling situations. In this context having a synthetic reed that I truly like is like a gift from God after years of picking up a clarinet or saxophone from the stand to find a dried out reed. I first discovered the potential of Legere reeds on clarinet. If I had not seen that potential early on, frankly, I would not have bothered with them and the Legere reeds would have gone into the trash can….following the path of every synthetic reed I tried over the years.

As I mentioned in a previous message, it took me several weeks to become comfortable with Legere reeds on clarinet. But, it took even LONGER on saxophone. I quickly discovered that Legere reeds (regular cut) sounded terrible on my primary mouthpiece. I then went through a period of trial & error to see if I could find a facing that gave me a better results with Legere. Long story short, I hit pay-dirt with the Ralph Morgan 6C saxophone mouthpiece. For whatever reason, this facing and mouthpiece design works in a stunningly beautiful way with a #2.5 regular Legere.

I experienced similar mouthpiece issues on bass clarinet. I had been using a Morgan D. Cane reeds work fine on it. But, with Legere response went to hell in a hand basket. I then tried a Walter Grabner LB mouthpiece with a #3 Legere and it was like finding the promised land. I was amazed at the differences the Grabner mouthpiece made.

After getting such good results with the Grabner/Legere match on bass I then HAD to try a Grabner mouthpiece on soprano clarinet. Walter suggested his K14 Kaspar-style piece. I tried it with a #3 Legere Quebec and was deeply impressed with the improvements it gave me over the previous mouthpiece I used with Legere.

Along with the trial & error I was having with mouthpieces, I also discovered that the ligatures I used quite happily with cane reeds were problematic with Legere. So, more experimentation with Ligatures! UGH….. But, again I hit pay-dirt — this time with the Vandoren Klassik string ligature. Remarkable improvements!

Looking back, I shudder to think about all of the work I put into finding the best possible match between myself as a player, my equipment, and Legere reeds. I would NOT have done that for a different cane reed! However, I’m extremely happy with the results I’m getting on each of my instruments. I can honestly say that I’m happier now with these set ups than I was before. However, it’s also clear to me that Legere reeds are not for everyone. If one is happy with cane reeds on their particular mouthpiece and equipment why change?

Best Regards,
R A

Reply To Message

R:
Many thanks for your interesting and thoughtful reply concerning Legere reeds. The clarity with which you speak and the intensity of your search is impressive. I didn’t think there was that much to be gained, and it was perhaps my own problem, however I’m quite delighted that you are happier now.
see my article on Leger on my survey elsewhere in the archives.

s.f

Here’s a thought: as the field becomes more crowded and the product more consistent, players may always find tiny differences, which will exacerbate the problem…..all over again. There has been a perceptible change for the better with the appearance of the newest of the Legere reed. I will have to check the name. It does play circles around the others for the most part, however please give the poor players  a break on the price, which is around 30 bucks a pop, taxes in.

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