Ladies and Gentlemen, today we have an epic showdown between two heavyweight champions! In one corner, we have the undisputed heavyweight reed in Steve Neff’s reed drawer. This is the formidable master of disaster the “Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 Strong Reed”. In the other corner, we have a new comer to Steve Neff’s drawer. The Legere Signature Reed! Although a newcomer for Steve, some say this reed’s strength and stamina are far superior. Rumors are that this reed was invented in a lab and grown from a test tube. Some say it’s average life expectancy could perhaps surpass hundreds of cane reeds. Could it be true? We will put these two reeds to the test today and the truth will be revealed!
All jokes aside, I received some samples of Legere Signature reeds and I thought it would be interesting to do a head to head comparison with them and a cane reed. I was playing on a Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 strong reed on a new D’Addario Select Jazz hard rubber tenor mouthpiece this week and thought it was a good time to try this experiment. The Select Jazz mouthpiece has a 7 (.105) tip opening and the 2 1/2 strong Rigotti was perfect on it. I have four Legere Signature reeds to choose from, a strength 2, 2 1/2, 2 3/4 and finally a 3 1/4.
Legere Signature vs. Rigotti Gold Reeds
I first tried the 2 1/4 and it played nicely but I thought it was a tad soft so I went to the 2 3/4 strength. This one felt great but after going back and forth, I realized that the 2 3/4 felt stiffer than the Rigotti reed so I went back to the 2 1/4 which felt closer in strength. I don’t have a 2 1/2 Legere Signature but I’m guessing that might be even closer perhaps.
Although there are some differences between how the two reeds blow, I was surprised more by the similarities between the two reeds than the differences. I am not a synthetic reed “guy”. I have never really liked them in the past when I have tried them. These new Legere Signature reeds are quite a bit better than the synthetics reeds I played in the past that is for sure.
In general, the Legere played surprisingly well throughout the range of the horn. The synthetic reed seemed to vibrate and buzz more on my lower lip than a cane reed (at least that is how it felt to my lower lip.) There were some notes that didn’t seem to have the same resonance as they do for me on the cane reed. The primary one for me was middle “E”. With the cane reed I always feel like that note is a bit more “alive” and “resonant” but with the Legere it seemed more “average” to me. I also noticed that my high G in the second octave had a tendency to be easily overblown (that’s when you get this sorta raspy sound that seems like a mix of high G and low G together-great for rock n’roll solos). After a little bit of playing time I was able to control this for the most part. As a side note, the G did not get overblown with the Legere 2 3/4 reed at all so maybe that is an aspect of the softer reed?
I did try the 3 1/4 Legere reed but it was way to hard for me on this mouthpiece. I never took the size 2 out of the package as the 2 1/4 was great and I just assumed the 2 would be too soft.
Now, I am joking a bit with the title of this article, this is not a fight to the death or battle royal but more just an interesting experiment to see how similar or different a Legere synthetic reed would be from an average cane reed.
I’ve included 7 sound clips below. For each one I have three versions. The first clip is the full clip with something similar played on both reeds. You can listen to that if you want to see if you can discern the difference between the two reeds and where it occurs. The two clips after, are the full clip broken down by reed for those of you who can’t tell the difference and maybe want a hint. The second two clips work well if you want to compare clips by going back and forth.
There are certainly differences between the synthetic reeds and the cane reeds. The purpose of this post is not to say they are equal but more about testing to see what those differences are. As someone who just spent about $500 on reeds, I can say that if I can use a synthetic reed and cut down on that cost it would be well worth it for me!
Although I can hear the differences in the recordings below, I am pretty confident that I would be hard pressed to recognize a Legere Signature reed when listening blind. Matter of fact, I had a Skype student a few weeks ago and I asked what mouthpiece and reeds he was using. I was shocked when he said he was using a Legere reed as I had no idea from listening to him over the course of the lesson.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I have my own thoughts and opinions based off the experiment but I am curious what you hear. I’ll post my thoughts and answers to any questions in the comments below as people start responding. Thanks, Steve
1.)Bb to low Bb Chromatic
Bb to low Bb Chromatic Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
Bb to low Bb Chromatic-Cane
Bb to low Bb Chromatic-Legere
2.)Full Range Chromatic
Full Range Chromatic Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
Full Range Chromatic-Cane
Full Range Chromatic-Legere
3.)Slow Donna Lee
Slow Donna Lee Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
Slow Donna Lee-Cane
Slow Donna Lee-Legere
4.)Fast Donna Lee
Fast Donna Lee Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
Fast Donna Lee-Cane
Fast Donna Lee-Legere
Tonguing Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
Funky E Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
7.)My Shining Hour
My Shining Hour Full Clip-Can you hear a difference?
My Shining Hour-Cane
My Shining Hour-Legere