When should I get a harder reed?
Do you know when to move on from your beginner's reed? Alice gives some advice...
Most new learners will start on a strength 1 ½ slab cut reed like the orange box Rico or Vandoren Juno. These are thinner tipped, with less central material (heart) than a French filed reed meaning an easier blow and less expense when (and they will) get broken.
As you play for a bit longer your embouchure (mouth shape/ muscles) will strengthen and you will get better at supporting the air you create. At this point your 1 ½ reed will be very easy to blow and will be prone to squeaking, note cracking, make your high notes harder to get and sound weak/ edgy.
You can generally feel when a reed is too soft. This is the time to talk to your teacher if they haven’t suggested a new reed already and try a strength 2, experimenting with some different makes of French filed reeds e.g Vandoren Traditional or Rico Royal.
The French filed reeds have a thicker heart so offer a fuller, warmer sound and that little bit of resistance needed to support the production of higher notes. Because of this they tend to feel a bit harder compared to your original reed strength so trying a 1 ½ is always a good option before jumping to a strength 2 French filed reed.