reeds

Visiting the hallowed plantation where Rico Reeds are grown-the ones I have blown for the past 30 plus years!!

Written by  on July 8, 2016

From a plaque big brother Simon saw in Hyeres lead us a couple years later to head for Hyeres.
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We were met by a wonderful gregarious big in stature and character Le Monsieur Philppe Weichel the head of the Rico Reed Plantation.
He hailed from the Alsace spoke immaculate English with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
He started working in the wine industry and 8 years ago was brought in by D’addario to run this plantation and with that brought in a more organic approach.All rejected reeds some 2 to 20 percent of the crop are mashed and recycled by the roots of the rows and rows of bamboo cane.

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This is part of the cultivation alongside Philppe’s addition from the wine world of some wild berry trees,then a lot of water,Cote D’azur magical sun and some mineral spray make this crop grow and grow.It has no Macbeth,nothing that can destroy it,it is resilent to any disease.

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(All photos by Simon Archer www.simonarcherphotograpy.co.uk)

The timing of the harvest varies but often after a frost in November then the cane is stripped and those that make the grade are dried out in the hangers.
There is a continual re-evaluation process as the cane that is deemed to knotty are literally weeded out so not to contaminate the good cane.
Each cane has different properties.The thicker part at the top can be for baritone,the next part down tenor,then alto,soprano sax..
other canes are strictly depending on their width for baritone,tenor or even clarinet…
and how many reeds per cane?
I said hundred..the reality 10 to 12!!!
Once dry the good cane is cut by special one off machines indoors and the very best quality are sent to the USA to be branded into Rico,Rico Royale and all the other affliated brands.
Over a million reeds orginate from this plantation and another near the sea in Hyeres.
Thank you Philippe for an informative tour.
I shall never think of a reed in the same way.
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Footnote.
He’s not forgot his roots he’seven growing some vines on site so Mr D’addario can have his own branded bottle of wine!

Lat week

The Collection of Top Level Professional Tenor Sax Mouthpieces

Written by  on October 8, 2012

The Collection of Top Level Professional Tenor Sax Mouthpieces.

One of our superkeen and very good Blowout Sax students who wishes for marital purposes wishes to remain Anonymous  went on his quest to find his personal tone.

He outlaid a small fortune on this collection of tenor sax mouthpieces which in time too will prove to be a clever investments.

To solve the connundrum of which was the one for him we recorded him playing the same tune ‘Make Sure You’re Sure,'(a Joshua Redman take of the Stevie Wonder classic) and left it ‘wet’ ie with echo and ‘dry’ without.

There are 5 different types here – an original  Dave Guardala David Brecker model,a vintage metal Otto Link and three different Freddie Gregorys-mark 3 mark 4 and mark 5.All these were played on a vintage Mark VI Selmer.

Have a listen and lets hope it can help you on your quest for your own personal sound and check out Mr Anonymous thoughts on the mouthpiece .

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Here’s Mr Anonymous take on the mouthpiece proceedings ….

As you know, it’s been the first time I have heard myself in a true way on all of the pieces, and interestingly I have found my sound that I like with my chosen reed (Vandoran Java 2.5 ) and again, interestingly I sound more or less the same on them all.

MOUTHPIECE REVIEWS

The Following Descriptions do not cover the detail/s of any Facings, Chambers as it often complicates

My Favourite (Just) The Mk 1 Vintage Hand made Dave Guardala Michael Brecker (GMB) with Pink bite Plate. They all have the famous faint hand markings on the shaft together with the number. These can be a brute at times and has a bit of resistance; It is the most difficult to tame and master; It has a fiercer high end that I love, its loud when pushed, and I have worked hard for around 4 years plus to get the low end sound right; The Journey is well worth it though.

Out of all the mouthpieces, it’s the thinnest in width and takes some getting used to as your embrasure has to change to accommodate this profile. It has the most wonderful, almost `crude but refined` hand finished internal walls that are so thin, its unbelievable; The Hand filling on the Inside Lay is a trademark that is unique to the Dave Guardala Hand Made Original pieces.

I use a `Francois Louis` Lig on this piece as I am a huge fan of them, they seem to keep the mouthpiece true to the sound, bright and are made in such a way not to `deaden` or muffle the tone, and once you master the technique of how to put the reed on with them, they are a breeze.

VALUE, around £1,500.00 to £1,600.00 IF YOU CAN EVEN FIND THEM (Rarer Than HENS TEETH) Put your own price on it if you like!!!!!!!

Second Up (and so so so close to the Guardala) is the Vintage Double Ring Florida Otto Link. This was originally a 5 Tip but has been Re Faced up to a modern 8 Tip (110) by the famous American Mouthpiece technician `Brian Powell` It has the Original Lig and metal cap that both fit like a glove. In Beautiful condition and rare to find one like this.

The piece is the most free blowing piece I have, ITS AS GOOD AS IT GETS , the bite plate is mint and it ticks all the boxes with BIG, Clear Full Sound, Powerful when pushed, with a beautiful full low end sound, and is my close second favourite

I do have a Francois Louis Lig for it which makes it sound slightly brighter, but im happy to use the original Lig mostly.

VALUE, £1,200 to £1,300

My Next Favourite Piece is the FREDDIE GREGORY VINTAGE MKIII CUSTOM MADE 8* Tip. The Lig is a Selmer and fits fine, but I do use the Correct `Freddie` Lig (as in the other pic on the MK IV) and it fits like a` Chickens Lip` (Bang On) He detests making the Ligs and so these are even refer!! Now `Freddies` Pieces are renowned to have a fantastic hand finish, and its very true, the work is incredible, he is an old man now and lives in Spain, he is still making them to order, but a waiting list of around a YEAR is still current!! They are in high demand. This Metal Mouthpiece has the extra Blue Flutes on the sides (an extra) and is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, I could look all day at it (sad I know) It is Immaculate and has an amazing POWERFULL FREE BLOWING sound throughout the range that almost matches the GUARDALA (but not quite as edgy) , it can also `whisper` when you want it to, and Boy it puts a smile on my face when im up for the `Energy Rush` of blowing full on.

It is and can be your permanent piece, just taming it for all registers at your sound level is the trick.

VALUE £1,200.00 to £1,300.00 THAT’S IF YOU CAN FIND THEM!!! (Not inc Freddies Lig, I would say that’s Negotiable starting at around £150.00)

Fourth Up Is the Next FREDDIE GREGORY VINTAGE MK IV CUSTOM MADE 8 Tip Again the Lig is the True Freddie Gregory as mentioned above, It has Red Coloured Flutes which means its an early `Freddie` Piece and was actually made in the UK when he was living here, Once again it is a masterpiece and is Immaculate, I have the famous Tube that Freddie sends them out in, so it’s the complete package.

These MKIV are the most popular as they are the Ultimate All Rounder in Mouthpieces, they have that certain Tone that is Vintage, but bright when pushed, beautiful sound low down and so so easy to blow you could do it whilst asleep!!!!! So to speak. They are the safe bet if you only intend to buy ONE EXPENSIVE Mouthpiece.

VALUE £1,300 to £1,500.00 RARE TO FIND THOUGH (took me about 18 months to find this baby)

Lastly, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A UNICORN? YOU HAVE NOW AND ITS IN THE SHAPE OF A Hard Rubber FREDDIE GREGORY VINTAGE MKII CUSTOM MADE 7 Tip (Otto Link Selmer) design. THIS IS THE RAREST FREDDIE IN EXISTENCE I use a Francois Louis Lig On This Beauty. It’s the only Hard Rubber Piece I have as I do tend to favour the Metal Pieces; However, This is so so so so so Rare and Beautiful I could marry it!

I have Authentication By Freddie Gregory that and I quote `Yes, this is the only one I made years ago` This Mk II was designed with a narrow tip width, so it doesn’t really feel like you have a `train` in your mouth, The sound is Even and Warm and a very Classic Vintage Tenor Sound. IT HAS A SPECIAL LOOK AND FINISH TO THE BRASS SHANK AND TABLE

I’ve never played a mouthpiece that is so easy to play on, It just takes barely no breath at all to honk on this piece. I’ve never played on a piece that the low notes are just so deep and full, it makes your face tremble, If I could smile and blow at the same time I would

HOWEVER, you might say, why is it your least favoured piece? Its Simple, I’m young at heart, relatively fit, have buckets of air to throw through my horn, I love the Edgy Sound of My Tenor. I’m saving it for when im around 65 to 70 so I can slowly enjoy the last years of blowing on a fabulous free sounding piece without having a heart attack!!!!!!

VALUE. I WOULDN’T RAISE AN EYE BROW, EVEN IF I WAS OFFERED £3,000.00 FOR HER.