Whether you’re a teacher that wants to encourage their students to play more sax through adding flavor to their reeds or a player that wants to practice for extended periods of time without having to tolerate the taste of cane, flavored reeds would be an excellent addition to your arsenal.
On the market, the one place you can go to for tasty reeds is Flavoureeds, which offers the following flavors:
- Cherry Red
- Blue Raspberry
- Mint Green
- Bubble Gum
- Pina Colada
As you can see, some flavors are creative and exotic, like the last two options, which gives your playing experience an entirely new taste. Pun intended.
The Background: What Are Flavored Reeds?
The idea of flavored reeds came to be after tutors realized that their students weren’t taking the time to wet their reeds before placing them on the mouthpieces, which was because they simply didn’t like the taste of the reed.
So, after almost a decade of research, the company was able to produce wood canes that had a pleasant taste yet played as well as the unprocessed ones, without changing any of the characteristics of the sound.
Some players would even argue that the flavoring fills the reed’s pores, leading to the sound being more resonant and full-bodied as there are no vibrations lost.
What Are the Best Flavors?
It seems that there was a lot of demand on the Blue Raspberry flavor to the extent that the producers had to get it back on the market after discontinuing it because it gave players blue lips. And despite the coloring seeping into the player’s lips, players still seek this flavor, that one can argue that the blue-lip effect is more appealing than anything.
Strawberry, Cherry Red, Watermelon, and Bubble Gum are also popular options, and these are the “red flavors” ones, and they also tint the lips a little.
Cinnamon, on the other hand, has no color, which is why it’s a very popular option among students that play in bands.
Finally, Pina Colada and Mint Green are typically popular among older adults.
How Durable Is the Flavor?
You can think of flavored reeds as chewing gums, the more time passes, the less flavored they become, with gradual loss of flavor.
Naturally, how fast that happens depends on how often you, but it’ll definitely last you a good number of band practices before you need to replace it for flavor.
What Are the Ingredients?
To give the taste some sweetening, a small amount of sugar is added to the flavoring of the reed. If you don’t use any reeds except flavored ones, over the course of a year, it would be like ingesting less than a bowl of corn flakes cereal.
The ingredients include natural food additives, nothing you wouldn’t find in your local supermarket’s baked goods section.
Do Flavored Reeds Have Any Effect on My Sax?
There is no difference between a regular reed and a flavored reed in terms of interaction with your horn. If you handle it appropriately by washing it regularly, it won’t affect the cleanliness of the sax, especially the smell.
Are Flavored Reeds Worth It?
Despite coming off as student reeds, the colors and flavors are there to spice up the playing experience, and the price is competitive with the market. This doesn’t mean they’re not of high-quality, though, they compare to your mid-range reeds, not premium ones like Vandoren or Legere.
How to Maintain Flavoureeds?
Like regular reeds, you should have a couple of them broken in and ready to play and you rotate between them, while making sure to use a reed guard. Once one is discarded, you can replace it with a new one.
What Are the Best Flavored Reeds for Alto Sax?
Naturally, the most sought-after reeds are alto ones, as the alto saxophone is the most popular type. However, any reed that you consider the best alto sax reed would do just fine if you’re willing to flavor it on your own.
The Alternative: DIY Reed Flavoring
You can actually create your own DIY flavored reeds so you get a natural taste.
You’ll need a bowl and a pitcher. In the pitcher, you can add water and fruits or herbs, and then soak your reeds (unpacked) in the pitcher for around 2 – 3 hours.
You can leave it for as long as you see suitable, however, as it depends on the type of reed you’re dealing with. Then, put your reeds on a paper towel to get rid of any extra, unnecessary moisture.
You can soak the entire box of reeds or just a couple of them, whichever fits your needs. And the best part about this process is that it makes the reeds feel softer and easier to play. You can also do it with multiple herbs like rosemary, lavender, lemon, and more.
For the seasoned saxophonists, the woody taste of cane or the synthetic taste of plastic can get a little bitter on their tongue, especially with extended sessions. This is why flavored reeds have such an appeal.
But apart from the practicality of playing for longer, they do add a nice flavor to the experience of playing a sax, and you can make your own ones if you want to keep your playing budget very tight and intact.