Vandoren alto saxophone reed review in combination with USA Meyer Alto Sax BA-2 M6M on YAS 480
Before all the pro-saxophonist come after me, I'd like to mention that this review that I'm writing on is based on an amateur saxophonist who is experimenting on her tones. I see a saxophone similar to a Lego® piece. You can create various tones from dark classical to bright jazzy by combining different bodies, necks, ligatures, reeds and mouthpieces. In the end it depends on one's taste. I personally like to create tones which can fit both classic and jazz. That I find in my combination of Yamaha YAS 480 + USA Meyer Alto Sax BA-2 M6M + Vandoren ZZ Alto Sax 2 reed.
To cut the story short, I initially played with the Vandoren traditional Alto Sax 2 reed with the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece that comes with the sax. Then, I accidentally dropped my mouthpiece and chipped the edge. Instead of buying the same mouthpiece, I decided to invest on a better one which was the USA Meyer Alto Sax BA-2 M6M (not to mention 5x the price). But before I decided to get this one, I ordered a few other mouth pieces recommended by my teacher: Otto Link Tone Edge 6* & 7, Vandoren V16 A6 S+, and Vandoren Optimum AL5. They didn't really fit me. The Tone Edge 7 sounded really well but it was such a big mouthpiece that I needed a lot of air to produce sound. By the time I did, I was already out of breathe.
As you can see from the image bellow, it seems like I'm a Vandoren fan, from the leather ligature to the mouthpiece patches. Actually, playing with leather ligature helps me produce rounder sound compared to metal ones. Moreover, the price was more reasonable compared to the other big brands. As for the mouthpiece patch, I actually got the wrong one. I should have gotten the 0.80mm but this was actually two 0.35mm stacked. I usually change them once they're thinned, possibly every 3 months depending on how intense I bite on them.
Now on to the review. Bellow you could find a table of the Vandoren reeds that I tried and a brief thought on them. I only got one of each reed (except for 6 & 7 which are my standards), therefore I couldn't really give my full review. I could have gotten a rotten reed since it is often the case that people could end up using only a few reeds from a pack of 10, unless you adjust them manually using some tools.
|No.||Type - package colour||My thoughts||Image & link|
|1||Vandoren Java Alto Sax 2 - Green||Too wide opening therefore I would need more air to blow.|
|2||Vandoren V16 Alto Sax 2 - Dark Green||Was okay but not my favorite.|
|3||Vandoren Java Filed Red Alto Sax 2 - Red||Slightly lighter to play compared to V16, was quite okay.|
|4||Vandoren V12 Alto Sax 2.5 - Silver||Not for me.|
|5||Vandoren V21 Alto Sax 2.5 - Light Blue||Quite heavy to play on lower tones, but nice for higher notes|
|6||Vandoren ZZ Alto Sax 2 - Black||Fits perfectly.|
|7||Vandoren Traditional Alto Sax 2 - Blue||You wouldn't go wrong unless it's too soft/hard.|
In addition, I pasted an image from the Vandoren website (hope it's legal since I referred it), on the different reed and their sizes. Let's ignore the clarinet but take a look at the saxophone chart. Although the Java green was a size 2, I had more of a hard time playing it compared to the Java red. In the end the combination with the mouthpiece and the type and size of the reed helps determine the easiness and the sound you produce. Thicker reeds will allow players to play altissimo notes loudly and easier, but then note bending more difficult. In my stage now, I'd rather work with standard 2/2.5 reeds which are not too hard in order to develop better my embouchure, range and dynamics.
To close this post, I'd like to mention that I also tried using a Rico reed which I bought as a spare. Although the numbers are the same, in the end you can not compare one brand to the other. I stick with the Vandoren because my teacher told me to and that I do believe the quality is assured.