For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a Vandoren reed person. And for the last few years, specifically the V-12 variety. But I have always been open to other things. I’ve been known to play on Gonzalez reeds from time to time…they are pretty good, but I don’t think that I would ever perform on them, I only use them for practice. They play nice, but my Vandoren’s are just a step above in tone and response. Anywho…last week I decided to order, on the recommendation of my teacher, a new (to me anyway) brand of Rico. And normally, the name Rico sends shivers down my spine (flashback to students honking away on the popcicle sticks they call reeds….eek!) but I decided to try a box. This isn’t the first time I have given Rico a chance; a couple years ago I tried the Rico Reserves, the local music store gave them to me to try (Thanks Boomers!). I hated them, haha. But I still wanted to give these new Rico’s a chance, especially because my teacher had liked them. They are called Rico Grand Concert Select Evolution. There are three types of the Concert Select brand, and the Evolution is the most expensive (which I took as being the top kind). I figured that I should try the nicest kind to get a good feel for the Concert Selects.
In general, the Rico reeds were ok. They played pretty well, but the response was a little off. I think that I could have gone with a 5 strength instead of a 4.5 strength they felt a little soft and chirpy. Basically it still felt like I was playing a Rico reed, even when I moved the reed up on the mouthpiece. My high notes were much flatter than normal, and VERY unstable in the more extreme altissimo (notes that are almost always stable on my normal setup) Even when I compared the Rico to the Vandoren up in the light, you could see the difference between them. The tubuoles (or whatever they are, you all know what I’m talking about) were very skinny, dense and compact in the Vandoren, and in the Rico they were much more spread out and thicker. Obviously, the cane in the Vandoren is superior, and that’s why it plays so much better. I really don’t think that I will be ordering another box of the Selects.
I also ordered a box of Zonda reeds, but they were backordered so they won’t be here for another week or so (or more). I’m interested to see how those compare to my precious V-12’s (LOL) I have heard good things about this brand, and this particular box includes five hand chosen reeds.
I’m certainly not an equipment person, just give me a good mouthpiece (although I am a fan of the Zinner blanks!), ligature, and a responsive reed and I’ll be fine. But I am enjoying exploring the difference between reed brands, especially since I’ve been playing on the same brand for over a decade. Its nice to see what is out there!