Rico International Fact Sheet

Home > Equipment > Reeds > Rico


From humble beginnings, Rico has grown to become a leader in single reed manufacturing. With the recent acquisition of Rico by D'Addario & Co. Rico is further strengthening its position as the leader in woodwind reeds and accessories.

At its San Fernando Valley facility, Rico has a state-of-the-art reed research center, and employs the collaboration of agronomists, scientists, and musicians to produce top-quality reeds that include Rico Reserve premium reeds for clarinet and saxophone. Rico reeds are designed to benefit all levels of musicians from the beginner to the seasoned professional.

Rico has been in business for over 80 years and has expanded since to offer lines for both saxophone and clarinet players including reeds for beginners to professionals and classical to jazz players. We offer a variety of lines including:


  • Designed for ease of play
  • Unfiled for powerful tone
  • Price affordably for educators
  • Available for full range of clarinets and saxophones
  • Offered in quantities of 3 and 10 reeds and the 25 Novapak™ reed dispenser

Rico Royal™:

  • French filed for flexibility and fast response
  • Works well for classical and jazz applications
  • Premium cane for consistent response

Rico Reserve™:

  • Crafted from high-density lower-internode cane
  • Color video inspection sorts cane quality
  • Optical laser measurements ensure accuracy
  • Precision natural-diamond cutters maintain reed consistency

Grand Concert Select™:

  • More wood in the heart for better projection
  • Premium cane for longevity
  • Outstanding articulation and response

Frederick L. Hemke™:

  • Professtional-quality for classical and jazz
  • Shorter vamp for dark tone
  • Balanced, slightly thinner tip for quick response and articulation

La Voz™:

  • Unfiled reed for powerful tone
  • Premium cane for consistent response
  • Available is strengths Soft to Hard


  • Coated with plastic to resist changes in moisture and climate
  • Coating provides durable and clear tone

Rico Select Jazz™:

  • Huge sound with powerful projection
  • Premium cane for longevity
  • Outstanding projection and control
  • Filed and Unfiled models offered

Mitchell Lurie™:

  • Premium-grade cane for consistent response and playability
  • Slightly thinner tip for ease of play and quick response and articulation
  • Unfiled for a deep, dark tone

In addition to our reed lines, we also offer a variety of ligatures and caps, Rico Royal Graftonite Mouthpieces, La Voz Mouthpieces, Reed cases, Humidity Control products and Accessories including Reed Gards, and saxophone straps.

Rico Reeds
8484 San Fernando Road
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Fax: (818) 504-9207

Everyone knows Rico reeds, and everyone knows that virtually every clarinetist or saxophonist has, at one time or another, played with a Rico reed. But what do we know about the origins of today's largest reed manufacturer and distributor? It all started in France with Joseph Rico in 1928.

Born in Italy, Joseph Rico (1876-1957) went to seminary school near Naples, where he showed special talent for music. As a teenager, he and his brother, Libereto, ran away from seminary school one night, embarked on a ship, and fled to America where they heard there was a world of opportunity for eager minds. Joseph was a harpist, pianist, and guitarist, and his brother was a mandolinist and violinist. As a result of their hard work, both musicians became quite well known in Chicago and New York. Joseph Rico started composing and conducting, and went on to Paris where he became a sought-after composer. His Valses lentes are still played today.

In 1926, Joseph's nephew, Frank De Michele, a clarinetist with Walt Disney studios, wrote to him complaining about how hard it was to find good reeds in Los Angeles. He wrote: "Uncle Joe, you are so well established in the musical scene in Paris, I'm sure you could find all kinds of good reeds for me." Joseph easily found reeds to send him, but three weeks later, Frank wrote again: "My friends liked the reeds you sent so much, I have none left for myself. Could you please send me more?" After a series of similar letters, Joseph's reed supplier bowed out, explaining that he could no longer provide reeds because of a shortage of cane. His nephew asked Joseph if he could at least send some cane so that he could try making his own reeds. Joseph had a vacation cottage in the Var region of southern France where he found excellent reed cane. In 1928, Joseph Rico sent the first shipment of 350 kilos of reed cane to America.

To honor his uncle, Frank asked if he could use his uncle's name to launch his first reed line. Soon thereafter, Frank De Michele found partners, including musician and engineer Roy J. Maier to create a reed factory in the U.S. And thus the company name: Rico.

The story behind Roy J. Maier's design and development of the world's most popular reed is an interesting one. It reveals a corollary interest in engineering, music, and reed research starting in the 1920s with his first appearance as a sax and clarinet player. Soon, Maier had worked his way up in America's premier bands, appearing as a member of Paul Whiteman's band, the star-studded ensemble of the '20s and '30s. Following his stint in Whiteman's band, he worked in radio and recording.

Throughout his career, Maier was unable to combine engineering interest with the performing field. He found that combination at Rico. His knowledge of superior playing technique and reed characteristics assisted in the creative design and eventual development of the specialized machinery and methods used in the production of Rico's reeds.

It was far from an overnight process. Maier made thousands of tests to determine the unique combination of measurements for each size and strength of reed. He devised the first equipment to measure the minute details of a reed's cut.

Maier's legacy of ingenuity and attention to detail lives on with today's Rico reeds, inspired by generations of the world's top players.

Today Joseph's grandson Jean-Franois Rico, who served for 30 years as plantation manager in southern France, is an important part of the Rico company.

Many of the world's finest clarinetists and saxophonists use Rico brand reeds, such as Jessica Phillips, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Potter, Benny Golson, Ernie Watts, Bob Sheppard, Walter Boeykens, Seiji Yokokawa, Philippe Geiss, Diastema Saxophone Quartet, and many more.

Sax Artists can be viewed here.
Clarinet Artists can be viewed here.



Rick Drumm, President, D'Addario & Company, Inc.
Media Contact:
Angela Magliocca

Portions Copyright © by Mark Charette, Webmaster. All articles © the respective authors. Please contact Mark Charette and the authors for reprint information. No inlining of these pages allowed.
Copyright and Warranty specifics.