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There is little agreement among players about which brands are consistent. Where one person reported satisfaction with Brand "V," another had nothing but problems.

"One thing to keep in mind is that no two people can agree exactly on how good a given reed is. Differences in instruments, mouthpieces, ligatures, training, and human anatomy/physiology make it impossible. My conclusion is that the only way to find a good reed is to try it and monitor it as it breaks in over several weeks (in rotation with others)." - (3/95) David Gilman

From a survey of subscribers by John Dohrmann:

"Vandoren V12 is the reed of choice, 13 of 50 answers. Overall, Vandoren was listed 34 times, including Black Master (2), White Master (2), Hand Selected (1) and several entries that didn't have the model. Strengths ranged from 2 to 4.

"Other brands were Rico (5, 3 Rico Royal), Mitchell Lurie (4), Steur (2), LaVoz (2), RKM (1) and David Guardala (1, Tenor sax reed for Bass clarinet). One person admitted to making reeds from blanks."

Comments About Variance of Vandoren Reeds From Luuk van Buul:

"I spoke with the importer of Vandoren reeds in Holland. He visited the Vandoren factory in Paris and spoke with Mr. Vandoren. He told me that Vandoren is able to measure reed strength to one tenth of their numbers, ie. they can measure the difference between, for example, a 3 and a 3.1. When the boxes are filled, Vandoren deliberately places several strengths in one box (let's say 2.6 to 3.4 in a box of number 3). This is done for two reasons:

- First: we clarinettists all have different feelings about which reed we should use. If Vandoren puts reeds of exactly one strength in a box, lots of players don't find any reeds useable at all. Of course, if this strength exactly matches your choice, you could use ten out of ten.

- Second: one player sometimes wants a reed which is a little stronger, then he wants something softer etc. because of changes in acoustics, humidity, weather.

Bottom line: when there is no variation in a box there is no choice. Variation within a box is not a matter of not being able to select better in the factory, but a choice made by Vandoren to make a box more 'universal'."

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