Best Tenor Sax Reeds for Jazz

Best Tenor Sax Reeds for Jazz

Best Overall
Budget
Editors Choice
Title
Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 1.5; Box of 5
Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0
Rico by D'Addario Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 1.5, 10-pack
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Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 1.5; Box of 5
Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0
Rico by D'Addario Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 1.5, 10-pack
Best Overall
Title
Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 1.5; Box of 5
Image
Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 1.5; Box of 5
Budget
Title
Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0
Image
Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0
Editors Choice
Title
Rico by D'Addario Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 1.5, 10-pack
Image
Rico by D'Addario Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 1.5, 10-pack

Proper reed selection is essential because the reed affects almost every aspect of saxophone performance, especially tone, intonation, response, range, embouchure formation, and endurance.

Every player knows that when you have a reed that feels just right, your tone and playing get better.

There are many brands of reeds being produced from cane grown in various country regions. Since there are so many reed brands to choose from, saxophonists must narrow down the choices by getting recommendations from saxophone teachers, professional performers, and peers.

Players will go through many different brands, trying to find the one that suits them best. If you are trying to find your perfect guide, this guide will help. Let’s get started.

Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds

Vandoren SR2215 Tenor Sax Traditional Reeds Strength 1.5; Box of 5
  • Traditional reeds are known for their excellent response in all registers, allowing a pianissimo attack in even highest notes.
  • Extremely flexible, allowing the legato or staccato execution of large intervals while maintaining a richness of tone that gives body and clarity to the sound, which is a hallmark of Vandoren reeds.
  • Traditional reeds are available for all clarinets and saxophones in various strengths.
  • Every reed sealed in 'Flow Pack' to ensure freshness.

These traditional reeds have an excellent response in all registers, which allows for greater dynamics across the range of the saxophone.

With Vandoren reeds, the professional player should maintain a pianissimo attack on even the highest notes. The reeds are designed to be flexible and give legato and staccato execution across large intervals and jumps.

Whether you are playing high and soft or low and loud, the richness of tone will be maintained. The body and clarity of Vandoren reeds is a trademark.

Every reed is sealed in a ‘Flow Pack,’ which ensures freshness. These reeds cost a little more than most, but they are an excellent buy for the professional player, the serious hobbyist, or the beginning player who just want to see what all the fuss is about

In general view, this reed is an excellent combination of a high-quality and good price for everyone.

Features

  • Traditional reeds are available for all clarinets and saxophones in various strengths.
  • Extremely flexible
  • Traditional reeds are known for their excellent response in all registers, allowing a pianissimo attack in even the highest notes.

PROS:

  • High-quality reed
  • Easy to use

CONS:

  • It might be too big of a long palette

Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0

Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.0
  • Strength: #2
  • Has the properties of moist cane
  • Does not have to be Preconditioned before playing
  • Completely non-toxic
  • No risk, 30 day Exchange policy

It features very good performance, even throughout the whole range. The low register is straightforward to play with this reed. It performs equally well with all of them. However, depending on the mouthpiece, it can take a bit more effort for the altissimo range.

In this case, we find it more straightforward with the 2,25. We used it with Otto Link 7, Meyer 9 MM, and Vandoren V16. It performs equally well with all of them.

For Meyer, as it has a bit smaller chamber versus the other two, I need to upgrade the reed to size 2,25 to have the altissimo coming out effortlessly.

Professionals tend to prefer these signature series reeds, which produce a warm, rich tone in all registers. Signature Series reeds are made from a stiffer material and are cut thinner than our Classic reeds.

These changes make the Signature Series reeds more flexible across the tip, producing a full spectrum of overtones and a beautiful sound with minimum effort.

No matter which reed you choose, you always get the same Légère quality, and the durability Légère has become famous for.

Features

  • Strength: 2.0
  • Produces a dark and warm sound
  • Developed in collaboration with Barnaby Robson and Larry Combs

PROS:

  • Has the properties of moist cane
  • It does not have to be Preconditioned before playing
  • Completely non-toxic
  • It’s a high-quality reed

CONS:

  • Mileage may vary based on sax and player

Rico by D’Addario Tenor Sax Reeds

Rico by D'Addario Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 1.5, 10-pack
  • Thinner vamp cut designed for ease of play
  • Strength 1.5, Unfiled cut, box of 10 reeds
  • Priced affordably for educators
  • Also available for full range of clarinets and saxophones
  • Also offered in 3-reed packs and 25-reed Novapak reed dispensers

The D’Addario Rico Select Jazz is rated on our guide as one of the best alto saxophone reeds for jazz. With its huge sound with powerful projection, the D’Addario Rico Select Jazz is also available in various sizes, from third strengths in the 2-4 range and soft, medium, and hard.

The D’Addario Rico Select Jazz is also available in two different models, from filed to unfiled. What sets this brand and style of saxophone apart is that it’s well-defined, with a longer vampire and a structured heart.

It gives off a clear, fatter tone and outstanding projection. This clearer sound makes it perfectly fit for jazz. The D’Addario Rico Select Jazz also boasts flexibility and lightning-fast response, which is great for the jazz notes.

The premium cane feature also makes it suitable to last longer and the protection of the thick spine.

From its home in the San Fernando Valley facility, Rico has a state-of-the-art reed research center that helps produce reeds like the D’Addario Rico Select Jazz and instruments for names like Mark Nuccio, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Potter, Benny Golson, Ernie Watts, Bob Sheppard, Henri Bok, Richie Hawley, Eric Alexander, and many more.

Features

  • Thinner vamp cut designed for ease of play
  • Strength 1.5, Unfiled cut, a box of 10 reeds
  • Priced affordably for educators
  • Also available for a full range of clarinets and saxophones
  • Also offered in 3-reed packs and 25-reed Novapak reed dispensers

PROS:

  • For the beginner and seasoned professional
  • Designed by agronomists, scientists, and musicians
  • It has a thick spine

CONS:

  • It plays with a traditional tip which might not work with certain music

Boston Sax Shop Custom Tenor Saxophone Reeds

Boston Sax Shop reeds are interesting because a small company makes them in smaller batches. The owner of Boston Sax Shop, Jack Finucane, found that most ‘jazz’ cut reeds are too bright and buzzy but have great projection. ‘Classical’ cut reeds had the depth and darkness that he found appealing but could not project through a band.

Jack has a reputation for durability and being that they are made in smaller batches, one would hope the quality control would be superior to that of large brands like Rico. They are a little more expensive than average, but if you like them, it is worth it.

Features

  • Good quality control
  • Providing a warm and dark tone while still being able to be pushed.
  • Stemmed from the frustration that many of us as players have searching for that ‘perfect’ reed

PROS:

  • Nice sounds
  • Good quality

CONS:

D’Addario Woodwinds Hemke Tenor Sax Reeds

D’Addario Woodwinds Hemke Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 3.0, 5-pack - RHKP5TSX300
  • Shorter vamp for a darker tone
  • Strength 3.0, Filed cut, box of 5 reeds
  • Balanced, slightly thinner tip for quick response and articulation
  • Filed to increase depth in harmonics
  • Offered in strengths 2.0 to 4.0

If you‘re looking for quality at an affordable price, the D’Addario Hemke Tenor Sax Reeds can offer you just that.

With a darker tone than most on the market and contains a shorter vamp, the D’Addario Hemke Tenor Sax Reed comes with a strength of 3 but is offered in a range from 2-4.

It also comes with a field cut and is packaged with a box of 5 reeds—which might explain the budget price since most other reeds come in a package of 10.

However, the quality of the D’Addario Hemke Tenor Sax Reeds is balanced and contains a slightly thinner tip, which helps it gain quick response and articulation.

The field cut that we already mentioned can help increase the depth in harmonics, which will help produce that dark tone that many classical and traditional jazz saxophonists desire.

Fit for a musical looking to get that traditional, round-chambered mouthpiece, the D’Addario Hemke Tenor Sax Reed keeps it simple in design but effective in sound production.

The response is a bit freer, and the shape of the cut adds clarity to the tone, making soft attacks easier. Backed by a credible name like Rico, the D’Addario Hemke Tenor Sax Reed is a product of years of science-backed research and years of tinkering until perfection.

Features

  • Shorter vamp for a darker tone
  • Strength 2.0, Filed cut, a box of 5 reeds
  • Balanced, slightly thinner tip for quick response and articulation
  • Filed to increase depth in harmonics
  • Offered in strengths 2.0 to 4.0

PROS:

  • It comes at a budgeted price
  • Balanced and low tone
  • Traditional mouthpiece

CONS:

  • It only has five reeds in a box

Rigotti Tenor Saxophone Reed

Rigotti Gold Tenor Saxophone Reeds Strength 3 Medium
  • Gold Tenor Saxophone Reeds Strength 3 Medium
  • Rigotti Gold Tenor Sax Reeds represent the finest in precision and playability
  • Hand picked and precisely cut, these reeds are consistent, focused and durable
  • Box of 10
  • The Best Cane Ets Rigotti owes part of their reputation to their materials

Rigotti Gold reeds are cut during a winter afternoon over four months from December to March. When the cane has reached maturity (after two years when it measures seven to eight meters with a diameter of 26cm to 32cm), it is cut left in the open where it will be worked on.

The work on the reeds is split into stages: Rigotti uses ‘plumes’ to dispose of all the excess and ‘feathers, and only keeps the 2 or 3 meters from the base (the rest is either burned or used as bamboo).

Then the tubes are cut (from the base to the top), and the knots are thrown to obtain batons suited to the music.

This is where the true work starts, as each tube is calibrated to a particular instrument. The double reeds are for the oboe and bassoon, which must be wet to be bent and attached.

A musician who plays the number 3 and who likes only the strong reeds will choose a box of strength reeds 3 Strong. Thus, all the reeds of his box will suit him, and he will have fewer losses. All the reeds in his box will have the same strength.

Features

  • Available from 2.5L – 3S
  • Five reeds per box
  • Flexible reeds with a great response

PROS:

  • Good quality
  • Improves sound
  • Easy to use
  • Functional
  • Consistent

CONS:

  • Not in unfilled

Royal Tenor Sax Reeds

Royal Tenor Sax Reeds, Strength 3.0, 10-pack
  • Traditional Rico cut with a stronger spine
  • Strength 3.0, Filed cut, box of 10 reeds
  • Works well for both classical and jazz applications
  • Also available for full range of clarinets and saxophones
  • Also offered in 3-reed packs

Designed for a wide variety of playing situations, Rico Royal is a high-quality reed for serious saxophone and clarinet players, yet it is priced affordably to meet the needs of both professionals and students. French filed for freedom of response, especially in the low register, adding clarity to the tone and making soft attacks easier. They are ideal for the advancing player.

The Rico Royal reed combines the features of the traditional Rico cut with a French file. Designed for advancing players, Rico Royal offers an even response across the registers and more clarity in the sound.

Rico’s updated reed-making machinery and state-of-the-art process have made today’s Rico Royal reed more consistent than ever before.

Features

  • Ideal for students
  • Designed for ease of play
  • Priced affordably for educators and parents
  • Available for a full range of clarinets and saxophones
  • Features a filed cut for increased clarity

PROS:

  • Traditional Rico cut with a stronger spine
  • Strength 3.5, Filed cut, a box of 10 reeds
  • Works well for both classical and jazz applications
  • Good sound
  • Quality made

CONS:

Legere Tenor Saxophone Reeds

Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series 3.0
  • Strength: #3
  • Has the properties of moist cane
  • Does not have to be preconditioned before playing
  • Completely Non-Toxic
  • No Risk, 30 day Exchange Policy

Now being used by some of Australia’s most prominent players, the Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Synthetic Reed delivers all the depth and warmth that players need. The Signature Series reeds are ideal for elite players who want something extra and haven’t yet found the perfect sound with other reeds.

The Signature Series for Saxophone respond without hesitation. They are thinner and stiffer than a traditional cane reed, making them easy to play with and beautifully free-blowing. They produce a pristine, centered sound with colorful overtones.

This reed is bright yet focused, which is why it’s preferred worldwide by advanced and professional players in both jazz and classical settings.

Enjoy a whole other dimension to the already rich Legere sound, with the Signature Series reeds, which have been tested by top professionals including Larry Combs and Barnaby Robson.

Features

  • Instant response
  • Consistent and reliable
  • Tough, durable, and long-lasting

PROS:

  • Produce good sound
  • High quality made
  • Long-lasting
  • Will not warp

CONS:

Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.75

Legere Tenor Saxophone Signature Series Reeds 2.75
  • Strength: #2.75
  • Has the properties of moist cane
  • Does not have to be Preconditioned before playing
  • Completely non-toxic
  • No risk, 30 day Exchange policy

These new reeds follow the spectacular success of the signature series clarinet reeds, which have been hailed as a breakthrough in synthetic reeds.

The signature series clarinet reeds are used by many professionals, including Barnaby Robson, Principal Clarinet of the Philharmonia in London, Larry Combs, former Principal of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and John Moses, a leading session and pit pro in New York.

The Signature Series for Saxophone respond without hesitation. They are thinner and stiffer than a traditional cane reed, making them easy to play with and beautifully free-blowing. They produce a pristine, centered sound with colorful overtones.

This reed is bright yet focused, which is why it’s preferred worldwide by advanced and professional players in both jazz and classical settings.

Features

  • Strength: #2.75
  • Has the properties of moist cane
  • It does not have to be Preconditioned before playing
  • Completely non-toxic
  • No risk, 30 Day Exchange policy

PROS:

  • Long-lasting
  • Consistent quality and reliability.
  • Decent sound
  • Durable

CONS:

  • A bit spendy, though worth the investment.
  • Expensive
  • Slightly buzzy

Lazarro TR-L-3.5 Tenor Saxophone Sax Reeds

Lazarro TR-L-3.5 Tenor Saxophone Sax Reeds Size 3.5, Strength 3 1/2, Box of 10 - All Sizes Available
  • Are You looking for your new Tenor Saxophone Reeds to fulfill all your musical needs? We have the perfect choice for You - "Lazarro" Reeds
  • Our Reeds are compatible to all Brands of Bb B-Flat Soprano Saxophones. "Lazarro" Reeds made from Real High Quality Bamboo and Produce Rich Professional Sound
  • Box of 10 Lazarro Tenor Saxophone Reeds, Size Strength 3.5
  • We are a USA Brand that you can trust 100%. Buy with confidence from us!

Lazarro is a less common option for tenor saxophone reeds, but they are good quality and made in the U.S.A. They are also one of the least expensive options on the market while purportedly maintaining better quality control than Rico brands.

Realistically, these reeds are probably as good as the cheap Rico brands, but they are harder to find and less popular, which earns them a lower ranking.

Like any cane reed, some of the reeds won’t be as good as others, but for the most part, these are a good option for a beginner or serious hobbyist.

Features

  • These reeds are compatible with all Brands of Bb B-Flat Soprano Saxophones.
  • Box of 10 Lazarro Tenor Saxophone Reed
  • Size Strength 3.5

PROS:

  • Produce good sound
  • Easy to use

CONS:

Buyers Guide

To help you choose the best reed, you want to focus on their specification details—the features of each.

These features not only can help you tell the difference between getting high-quality reeds and not, but they also can help you see whether or not that reed is tailored to your level or type of music.

Music genre

Choosing a reed based on the musical genre is also heard of. You’ll want to head for a reed with a darker tone if you’re going to be playing the saxophone.

However, if you’re specifically into jazz music, you’ll want to aim for the type we mentioned above, which produces a much brighter tone.

Sizing

The size of the reed is measured by the strength of the reed, as well. A 1.5 to 2 size will be perfect for a beginner, while a larger strength size gives off that hard tone most professionals are looking for.

Sound

The sound of the cane that the reeds produce mainly derives from the way it’s designed. You’ll want to do your research before you buy a reed because some of them are more tailored to give off a darker or deeper tone, while others are specifically designed to give off a brighter and playful tone.

Strength

You might have noticed the numbers listed above regarding the “strength” of your saxophone reed.

Typically, like most of the reeds on this guide, the range was measured from 2-4. However, although none were listed here with this range, the standard scale of the saxophone reed strength is running from 1—the softest—to 5—the hardest.

These numbers can be found right on the reed itself and generally on the packaging, as well. You might also see the strength being measured using words instead, like “soft,” “medium,” or “hard,” which can be pretty simple to figure out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the reeds from other saxophone types fit my tenor sax?

Physically fit, perhaps. However, the correct type of reed needs to be equipped with the kind of saxophone. So if you’re going to be playing a tenor sax, you’ll need the reed that is specifically designed for that saxophone instrument.

There are soprano sax and tenor sax reeds that are going to be differently shaped and designed. However, when you go the extra mile and get one that matches and fits correctly, the harmony of your sound will be spot on!

How long do tenor saxophone reeds last?

There is no straight shot answer here—it all depends not only on how often your saxophone is being played but also the playing and the care it’s receiving after being played.

Some reeds can last three months, while others will be trashed after only two weeks of intense playing. Not only does quality go a long way here—so does maintenance.

However, you’ll always benefit from investing in the package of reeds that contain a high number, like ten.

Does the tenor sax reed quality depend on the brand?

Of course, buying a brand name means you’re investing in the product’s reputation rather than just the product itself.

However, the reed gets its reputation brand by the manufacturing process—and at the end of the day, producing high-quality material. You don’t want to invest in a brand that uses cheap materials or rushes production.

The process is challenging—which poses the quality opportunity when the company takes its time—from growing cane the right way to the actual manufacturing process.

Is tenor or alto sax better?

The tenor sax is slightly larger and heavier, while the alto sax is smaller, lighter, and more easily managed than a tenor. Since the alto sax is smaller, its notes are higher and brighter than those of the tenor sax.

Is tenor sax harder than Alto?

The alto embouchure is more demanding than the tenor embouchure—especially for classical playing. The soprano and clarinet are even more so.

The tenor can be played with an overly loose embouchure producing a “foofy” sound in the low and middle registers and still be acceptable.

Is tenor sax easy to learn?

Best Tenor Saxophones

Compared to a lot of instruments, the saxophone is one of the easier ones to learn. The keys were designed for easy, logical use; the mouthpiece is less complex than its orchestral counterparts, and playing in tune with a good tone is feasible within a few practice sessions.

Conclusion

All of the reeds we have mentioned here are great options for both beginners and experienced players. The right reed for you will be a matter of experimentation and personal taste.

Buy a few of these reeds that seem appealing, and when you find a brand and stiffness that you like, stick with it. You will get to know it better, and you will be able to buy in bulk, saving money.

Factors such as the reed brand, reed strength, and reed cut will determine how well a reed performs and should be carefully considered when making a reed selection.

Through diligence, patience, and carefully playtesting various reeds, saxophonists should be able to select the best reed for their particular performance needs.

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