Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds Review

Today, I am reviewing the RW Roberto’s Winds custom saxophone reeds released by Roberto Romeo at Roberto’s Winds in NYC.  Roberto’s Winds reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their saxophone reeds.  They sent me nine boxes of sax reeds in a variety of strengths to try out. Three boxes of tenor saxophone reeds, three boxes of alto saxophone reeds and three boxes of soprano saxophone reeds.

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds are made from arundo donax cane, which originates from the Rigotti reed factory in Cogolin, France (on the French Riviera).  I found this interesting website at bassooncane.com that has some interesting details on the arundo donax cane and the plantations that grow it.

The Rigotti company is in the Provencal town of Cogolin to the golf of Saint-Tropez. Franco Rigotti and his son Daniël have a modern workshop where not only arundo donax is processed, but also where tools (for making reeds), and accessories for wind instruments are produced.-bassooncane.com

Rigotti sells their products and different cuts of saxophone reeds to companies such as Roberto’s Winds, Boston Sax Shop, Ishimori, Lupifaro, as well as their very own brand of Rigotti Gold saxophone reeds.  I have tried all of these brands I have listed above and hope to complete a comparison review of all of them at some point in the future.

Rigotti Arundo Donax Cane for Reeds

Here is the description of the Roberto’s Winds RW custom saxophone reeds from the Roberto’s Winds website:

“For more than 30 years, Roberto Romeo has worked closely with many of the world’s top saxophonists, gaining uncommon insight into the art of sound production on the saxophone. In cooperation with Rigotti Reeds, Roberto has combined this knowledge with his world renowned creativity and precision craftsmanship to create his personal line of premium quality, affordable saxophone reeds.

Only Rigotti’s finest French cane is selected and precision-cut to meet Roberto’s rigorous standards of sound quality and durability. The “RW” custom cut gives it a solid core and powerful, even response throughout the entire range of the instrument while maintaining a colorful depth of character not found in other modern reeds.~Roberto Romeo (Owner and Repair Technician Roberto’s Winds)

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

Like the Rigotti Gold brand of reeds, the Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds also come in three sizes per half size of reed.  What this means, is that while other brands of reeds like Vandoren and D’Addario might come in sizes such as 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, etc…….  Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds come in three strengths per half size such as 2 1/2 soft, 2 1/2 medium, 2 1/2 hard, and then the next level of reed strength is 3 soft, 3 medium and 3 hard, etc……

One benefit to having these extra reed strength options is that you can really fine tune and dial in the exact strength of saxophone reeds that you prefer to play.  Instead of having a box of 3 strength saxophone reeds, where some of the reeds play soft, some of the reeds play hard and some of the reeds are perfect for you, you can now order a specific saxophone reed strength of 3 soft, medium or hard for exactly the strength of saxophone reed you prefer.

The second benefit to these extra reed strength options is that once you figure out which specific saxophone reed strength you prefer, you will get more saxophone reeds that play well for you right out of the box.

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

Roberto’s Winds sent me these sample boxes of reeds in early December and although I could have quickly done a reed review that same month, I wanted to play through the majority of the tenor sax reeds first so I could write about their consistency.  You can find specific clips of me using the Roberto’s Winds reeds in the sound clips at the bottom of these reviews I have done since December.

Recent Neffmusic Reviews using the Roberto’s Winds Saxophone Reeds

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

I honestly found the Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds to be incredibly consistent in strength and playability.  I have played most of the RW tenor sax reeds in the 3 soft and 2 1/2 hard strengths and every saxophone reed of the 16 I have tried over the last 3 1/2 months has played great for me.

I have only tried a couple of the alto saxophone reeds so far but the ones I have tried for the alto saxophone mouthpiece reviews above played exceptionally well right out of the box.  I just started trying out the RW soprano reeds I received a few days ago but so far the three I have tried play great as well.

Roberto’s Winds Reed Comparison Chart

To describe the strength and the tone produced by the Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds, I will have to relate them to the other Rigotti cane reeds I have been playing before I received the Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds.  These are the Rigotti Gold and Boston Sax Shop BSS saxophone reeds.

In my opinion, the Roberto’s Winds 2 1/2 hard saxophone reed felt like it was somewhere in-between the Rigotti Gold 2 1/2 strong and the 3 light saxophone reed. The RW 2 1/2 hard tenor saxophone reed felt similar in strength to the BSS (Boston Sax Shop) 2 1/2 tenor sax reed with the BSS reed feeling just a tad harder to me.

As far as tone and sound, the RW 2 1/2 hard reed seemed to sit somewhere in between the Rigotti Gold and the BSS (Boston Sax Shop) saxophone reed. The Roberto’s Winds saxophone reed wasn’t as bright as the Rigotti Gold reeds but it wasn’t as dark and warm as the BSS saxophone reeds as well.  It seemed to combine some of the brighter tone characteristics of the Rigotti Gold reeds with a bit of the complex richness that the BSS Boston Sax Shop reeds have.

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

The Roberto’s Winds 3 soft tenor saxophone reed felt a little harder than the Rigotti Gold 3 light sax reed but not as hard as the 3 BSS (Boston Sax Shop) saxophone reed.

The tone of both the 2 1/2 hard and 3 soft RW saxophone reeds was full and rich with a lot of complex overtones in the sound but missing some of the brightness and edge I perceive with Rigotti Gold saxophone reeds many times.

The Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds seem to last a similar length of time as my other Rigotti cane reeds I have tried such as the Rigotti Gold, BSS and Lupifaro saxophone reeds but I really can’t give an exact measurement on this just because I review so many saxophone mouthpieces and have not yet played any of these Roberto’s Winds sax reeds to their death (meaning they become too soft for me).  I will state that the RW reeds I have tried so far are still in reed cases in the hopes that I will be able to use them again on future mouthpiece trials and reviews.

Roberto’s Winds RW Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone Reeds

If you are interested in the Roberto’s Winds RW custom saxophone reeds,  you can order them from the Roberto’s Winds website.  They come in strengths from 2-5 and are made for all the saxophones (baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone) as well as for Bb clarinet and bass clarinet.

Thanks to Nicky at Roberto’s Winds for sending me these great RW saxophone reeds to try.  I am very grateful to have the chance to try these Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds as they give me another choice of reed when playing the saxophone that are consistent and dependable.

If you try the Roberto’s Winds saxophone reeds, please come back and tell us what you think of them in the comment section below.    Steve

Disclosure:  I received a sample package of 9 boxes of the Roberto’s Winds tenor, alto and soprano sax reeds in various sizes for free in the hope that I would try them and perhaps review them here on my blog.  Regardless, I only review products that I believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also.     Steve
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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. Avatar Ian Bumstead says

    Thanks for another honest review Steve!

    Your experience with Roberto’s mirrors mine with regards to their strength and tonal characteristics as compared to Rigotti Gold and BSS reeds – all of which I have played pretty extensively. So I’ll just add that European customers can buy them direct from Rigotti here:

    http://www.reedsonline.fr/boutique_reedsonline/en/accueil-gb/

    Ian

  2. On Otto Links I never could use any other reeds than Orange Rico’s. After 30 years I’m very happy with the RW reeds. And off course they are so much more consistent. I used Orange box Rico 3 before, now I use RW 3M

  3. Avatar Piotr Michalowski says

    I have been using Roberto’s reeds for some years now on tenor, soprano, bari, and bass clarinet and only on soprano do I also use Vandoren blue box reeds. Over this time the consistency has been very good. I find that they have very good resonance, without the overt brightness I do not personally like, and have a deeper sound in the middle of the overtone range, They do very well in altissimo. I am particularly fond of the bass clarinet reeds. I have also found that they last quite long.

    The trick with reeds that have such 1/4 strengths is to find just the right one. I did this while visiting NY and getting a few individual reeds to try first and found just what I needs, usually a bit stronger than what I was otherwise using.

    • Hey Piotr, I’ve been trying to find a review of the Roberto’s bass clarinet reeds for so many years and haven’t found any before, so thanks so much for sharing your experiences here! Just wondering how to they compare to the Vandoren Blue Box Bass Reeds in terms of strength & feel? Thanks a lot again!
      -Josh W.

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