For saxophone and clarinet musicians!

Reed Brand Choices

Reed Manufacturing Process

Reed Brand Choices

All reed players have instruments which require the reeds to be replaced overtime. Sometimes the replacement is needed because of the reed being damaged (which happens often at this point) or because the reed wears out. Choosing a good reed brand is not as simple as you may think. There are numerous options available and they are not all equal. Finding a balance between cost and quality is always a priority, but quality needs to be placed as a priority. Poorly manufactured reeds create additional issues to playing the instrument and do not last as long. 

I popped on Amazon and did a quick search for "clarinet reeds 3.0" to see how many results appeared. The search brought back 496 possibilities! 

496 reed possibilities


 Below that header was a group of suggestions for reeds, because Amazon loves to offer up impulse buys and to "simplify" your purchasing experience.

amazon suggestions


Of these suggestions, only two are options I would trust. The blue box D'Addario Royal (also known as Rico Royal) and silver box Vandoren. The other three are brands I have never heard of in the last 30 years of playing saxophone and clarinet from elementary school through now. The two brands I would trust do cost more, but they are proven and maintain a high quality of product.

Do they cost more? Yes, but they are worth the additional cost. 

circled reeds

For beginning saxophone and clarinet players, I strongly encourage you to stick with Rico (comes in orange packaging) and Juno (Vandoren entry level brand) brands of reeds. These manufacturers make a fantastic product which is consistent and work properly. The strength rating should be a #3. 

For junior high and high school saxophone and clarinet players, I suggest moving to a higher quality reed like Vandoren blue box or silver box, Marca black box, Gonzalez, Alexander Superial, Legere (synthetic reed), Rico Grand Concert, and D'Addario Reserve. These reeds use higher quality cane and have different designs when they are cut.



The reed manufacturing process takes about 4 - 5 years. The inexpensive reeds which can be purchased at almost half the cost of Rico (orange box) often arrive showing signs of improper aging, low quality cane, or inconsistent cutting during the manufacturing process. This means they're cutting corners while developing their product to sell at a price point that is low by sacrificing quality.

Vandoren (Dansr) has a great website which simplifies the process used in manufacturing reeds.

It only takes a minute or two to look over, but it's quite informative.

If you have any questions about reeds or instrument selection, please email me! I'm happy to answer them.


Pat Zaur



Director of Bands at O'Connor Elementary


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