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Cane reeds or synthetic reeds?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023







What kind is the best?

Woodwind instruments traditionally use cane reeds, which are made from a type of grass called Arundo donax. However, in recent years, synthetic reeds have become increasingly popular among woodwind players.

Cane reeds have been used for centuries and are known for their rich, warm sound and flexibility. They are made by harvesting, drying, and cutting the cane into the shape of a reed. Cane reeds can vary in quality and consistency, and they require a break-in period before they sound their best.


On the other hand, synthetic reeds are made from materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, or resin. They are designed to mimic the sound and feel of cane reeds but offer some advantages, such as greater consistency and longer lifespan. Synthetic reeds can be more durable than cane reeds and may last several times longer, especially if well cared for. They also do not require a break-in period, and they are less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.


There are pros and cons to both types of reeds, and which one is better for you will depend on your personal preference and playing style. Some players prefer the natural sound and feel of cane reeds, while others find that synthetic reeds offer greater consistency and ease of use. Ultimately, the choice between synthetic and cane reeds is a matter of personal preference and depends on the specific needs of each player. For me, switching to synthetic reeds after using cane ones for 25 years was one of the best musical decisions in my career. Using the synthetic reeds, along with professional- line instruments, helps my students and me to win auditions because of the beautiful sound, consistency of the playing experience, and positive educational experience.


Furthermore, Many students quit playing reed instruments because they cannot find good reeds. Some students are doing exceptionally well with cane reeds, while others do incredibly well with synthetic ones. Please talk to Dr. Qian about what is best for your child. Cane reeds need reed tools and other equipment to maintain. Synthetic ones are a little pricey. The bottom line is the student should never use “crappy” reeds. Every student is different regarding preference and his or her opinion.


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