Clarinet reeds: D’ADDARIO

Before I start, I would like to congratulate publicly all the brands that make reeds for their contribution to the clarinet world. New ideas and accessories which make the clarinetist feel more comfortable are very welcome. And there also are different companies that are starting to include reeds in their product selection.

 

In this article I will talk about D’Addario –a company that is well-known for their string manufacturing- whose team, since 2004, has been working hard to offer superior quality reeds to help musicians to achieve their ambitious targets. The use of latest technology and the quality control have made it possible. D’Addario offer a new point of view to the clarinet and saxophone reed world, a step forward.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be able to talk to D’Addario and I had a very interesting conversation about the new products they offer, which just shows their commitment with the clarinet world.

We will start with a bit of history and then I would like to talk about the Reserve and Reserve Classic reeds, although it is good to know they make nine different types of reeds that cover the student and professional market.

I would also like to say that although this article is dedicated to the Reserve and Reserve Classic reeds, I will mention the Grand Concert Select reeds because I know some clarinetists who use them.

A bit of history

Joseph Rico (1876-1957) and his brother, both Italian and musicians,  embarked on a ship, and fled to America where they heard there was a world of opportunities for eager minds. As a result of their hard work, both musicians became quite well known and Joseph Rico went on to Paris where he became a sought-after composer.

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. Joseph easily found reeds to send him, but after a series of similar letters, Joseph's reed supplier regrettably explained that he could no longer provide reeds due to a cane shortage.

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 honour his uncle, Frank asked if he could use his name to launch his first reed line named "Rico."

Soon thereafter, Frank De Michele found four partners, including musician and engineer Roy J. Maier, to create the first Rico reed factory. Maier, great clarinet and saxophone player in the 1920s, was able to combine engineering interest with the performing field. 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. Maier made thousands of tests to determine the unique combination of measurements for each size and strength of reed. He eventually devised the first equipment to measure the minute details of a reed's cut. His legacy of ingenuity and attention to detail lives on with today's Rico reeds, which have been inspired by generations of the world's top players.

A New Beginning

In 2004, Rico was acquired by D'Addario & Co, the world's foremost manufacturer of musical instrument accessories. A family owned and operated business, D'Addario's success is built on a passion for innovation and quality. The research and development arm of D'Addario is one of its strongest assets.

As a result, D'Addario has infused millions of dollars of new technology and quality control at Rico. Every aspect of Rico's reed-making process has been redeveloped -- from the plantation to the reed making machines, and everything in between.

Rico's passion for quality and commitment to artistry has created a revolution among players. Rico is now the reed of choice among all levels of clarinetists and saxophonists, played in the world's most prestigious symphonies, conservatories, and jazz clubs.
 
Where does it all come from: the Arundo Donax reed
Making the finest reeds requires the finest cane supply. Rico has an obsession with growing the highest quality cane. They have been carefully cultivating cane on their own plantations in France and Argentina for over 30 years. They are the only company that grows 100% of their own cane; this ensures an attention to detail in the growing process that is unrivaled.

I have based my opinion on two parameters which, from my point of view, are basic to make a good reed choice:

- RESPONSE

- RESISTANCE

 

REEDS

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D’Addario Reserve clarinet reeds

Very used by clarinetists around the world, particularly for classical study. The big difference with the D’Addario Reserve Classic reeds is the heel of the reed.

D’Addario Reserve reeds offer:

1.  A traditional heel, adding a centred sound.

2. Rounded tip corners for a warm sound.

3. A shorter blank for a faster vibratto. 

4. The size of the tip is normal and it has a traditional shape.

These reeds offer a warm sound, with a strong spine that adds flexibility, dynamics and quality of sound to the clarinet throughout the different ranges. They have an outlined vamp with a consistent response. The size of the tip is normal to facilitate articulation. There is no doubt that D’Addario has looked after every part of the reed.

They are ideal for advanced students and professional performers.

Designed by experts and manufactured in the USA from natural reed, harvested in the D’Addario fields. 

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Strength range:

2.0, 4.0, 2.5, 4.0+, 3.0, 4.5, 3.5, 3.5+

 

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D'Addario Reserve Classic clarinet reeds

Compared to Reserve D’Addario reeds, the heel is thicker. They offer:

1. A thick heel, adding an intense and deep sound.

2. Squared tip corners for a quick response.

3. A thick tip for a clear stacatto.

These reeds offer a warm sound, with a strong spine that adds flexibility, dynamics and quality of sound to the clarinet throughout the different ranges. They have an outlined vamp with a consistent response. The size of the tip is normal to facilitate articulation. There is no doubt that D’Addario has looked after every part of the reed.

They are ideal for advanced students and professional performers.

Designed by experts and manufactured in the USA from natural reed, harvested in the D’Addario fields.

 

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Strength range:

2.0, 4.0, 2.5, 4.0+, 3.0, 4.5, 3.5, 3.5+

 

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Grand Concert Select Traditional Reeds

Grand Concert Select Traditional reeds are filed and feature a traditional tip and thicker spine, providing a quick response. They have a traditional blank thickness; traditional blanks are made from cane closer to the bark, adding more brilliance to the sound.

-Available in half strengths, from 2.0 to 4.5

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Grand Concert Select Thick Blank Reeds

Grand Concert Select Thick Blank reeds are filed and feature a traditional tip and thicker spine, providing a quick response. GCS Thick Blank differs from GCS Traditional in that it has a thicker blank; thicker blanks are made from cane further away from the bark, resulting in a warmer sound.

-Longer vamp than Grand Concert Select Evolution for easier response

-Thicker blank for more body to the attack

-Available in half strengths, from 2.0 to 4.

 

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Grand Concert Select Evolution Reeds

Grand Concert Select Evolution reeds are unfiled and have more material in the shoulders of the vamp. They feature a traditional tip and the thickest spine of the GCS family, providing a full sound. Of all Rico's clarinet reeds, GCS Evolution has the thickest blank; thick blanks are made from cane further away from the bark, resulting in a warmer sound.     

-Traditional tip shape for quick response

-Thickest blank of the GCS family, for more body to the attack

-Heavier spine for greater sound projection

-Available in half strengths, from 2.5 to 5.0

 

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Personally I feel more comfortable with D’Addario Reserve, very probably because the size of the heel and tip are very similar to the reeds I have been using up until now (Vandoren Traditional).

I find them flexible and therefore I like the response  and resistance they offer.

The equivalence in strengh with the Vandoren reeds I am using at present is very similar, that is, number 3 D’Addario Reserve is similar to number 3 Vandoren Traditional. 3.5 would be too hard for me.

I wouldn’t like to finish this article without  congratulating D’Addario for all their work and determination in manufacturing clarinet reeds that easily adapt to the demands of XXI century clarinetists.

I would like to remind you once more that a good reed choice is basic for a clarinetist. They are the heart of the instrument and my advice would be:

1.Don’t get tired of trying and experimentation.

2. Training is basic to have the tools to make a good choice.

3. The choice of a certain brand and/or model is very personal and it depends on every clarinetist, the instrument you play with, the mouthpiece you use…


 

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