Filed vs. Unfiled Reeds (Which One Should You Use?)

One thing that you will quickly notice with various woodwind instruments is that reeds form some of their most important components. This applies to such musical instruments as the bassoon, oboe, saxophone, and clarinet.

The thing with reed instruments is that the vibrations or sounds that they produce are as a result of air that is forced across a flimsy piece of an item known as the reed. 

It is the vibration of the reed that makes the sound and then there is an amplification of the sound right in the body of the instrument itself.

There are some other instances in which a number of the instruments are equipped with one reed that is in vibration against the mouthpiece and that is precisely what is seen with the saxophone or the clarinet.

There are some others where a pair of reeds does the vibration against each other and that is the mechanism in the bassoon and the oboe. 

What Are They and the Differences? 

Many instrumentalists are interested in knowing the difference between filed and unfiled reeds. The cane and synthetic reeds are two specific kinds of reeds that the instrumentalists can select from.

The users can also choose from the filed and the unfiled reeds. This section is going to shed more light on the two and also explain the main differences alongside the features too. 

Filed Reeds

These are also referred to as the French cut or double cut and are reeds that come with an additional strip of the bark which is detached in a straight delineation, right under the vamp.

The essence of this is for additional flexibility and swift response and that is what governs the decision of those who go for the filed reeds. 

Unfiled Reeds

These are also referred to as single cut, regular reeds, or the American Cut. They are easily known because of their unique shape like the letter U towards the lower portion of the vamp. Users go for them because of the ability to produce a tone of higher levels of strength. 

For users who prefer the products of regular resistance and sounding mouthpieces with deeper hues, there are several brands that they can choose from and the same goes for those who prefer the filed reeds.

Using filed reeds comes with its peculiarities and that explains why those who stick with them prefer to do so. 

Making use of a filed reed means the resistant mouthpieces will be able to blow with a lot more freedom while also producing a tone with distinct brightness.

The Rico clarinet reeds or the alto saxophone reeds from the Vandoren brand are also ideal for those who prefer to go for bright unfiled reeds that are easy to blow. 

Why Should You Care

Several features are considered before a player will settle for a particular type of instrument. Users can make a selection of either unfiled or filed reed depending on the kind of sound that they are used to playing.

The sax can be used as an illustration here and that is because when doing a classical musical performance, there is the need for a mouthpiece and reed used together for a specific reason. 

The reason here is the production of a darker sound with higher tonality which points to the usage of a filed reed. Pop or jazz sax go well with a blend that leads to the production of a much brighter sound and that means for such performances, the unfiled reed is the coolest option.

So, the performer is going to pay a lot of attention to the kind of instrument used because of the outcome of the performance. 

The filed ones are known for the stress-free response so soft attacks can be launched easily and are ideal for resistant mouthpieces. For many, they are very concerned with the reed that they consider to be the most ideal for them.

Well, the thing with the selection of the reed is that it is not objective and the most ideal way to getting the perfect reed for all your instruments or even your style of playing will be for you to take time out to practice with the various brands and styles.

Experiment with reeds composed of various items and materials produced by various brands. 

The good thing here is that the reed is relatively cheap so you will be able to get the one that is best for you and your playing style without having to spend all your savings.

Those who need more advice on how to go about this can consult professional musicians or even read up detailed buying guides for reeds. 

Best Reed Brands for Filed and Unfiled

Several brands make filed and unfiled so the player out there is always free to make the finest choices. For those who want to go for the filed reeds, there are brands like D’Addario which makes precisely what they need.

Then for those who prefer the unfiled ones, they can always go for the ones like Rico Bb or Vandoren. Rico is particularly good when it comes to offering filed reeds.

Some of their offers include the Grand Concert Select, Rico Royal, Hemke, Reserve (which is for sax), and the Rico Select Jazz. Other brands include Selmer Rubber, Meyer, and Otto Link. 

As for the unfiled reeds, some of the well-known brands in this category include Guardala, Dukoff, Berg Larsen, Selmer metal, and Beechler. This brand is very trusted but there are also some other unfiled reeds like Rico Select Jazz, Rico, and La Voz. 

However, as hinted above, you can only be sure of the very best brands for your playing style and musical performance if you have been able to test them out and this way, you will be able to know which one fits your needs.

Sampling various brands is one of the steps that even experienced musicians take when it comes to knowing which reed type is ideal for them.

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