On this blog I usually write about clarinet related topics or about my own clarinet projects. Few people know that I am also a dedicated saxophone player – although I do not appear in public as a saxophonist very often. My saxophone quartet Aeolia plays mostly classical saxophone literature from Pierre Max Dubois to Elliot Carter, and we play one or the other swing arrangement, too.
However, the reason why I write this article is I want to tell you about a new brand, Lupifaro.
I got samples of their alto saxophone reeds and found them convincing. Lupifaro offers two different cuts, Classic and Jazz.
Setup and Treatment of Reeds
My mouthpiece is a Meyer 5M (medium chamber) with a tip opening of 71, and I tested both cuts in strength 3.
Before playing the reeds for the first time, I soaked them in water for about half a minute. I then played them 10-15 minutes each throughout several days. The next day I watered them and checked the undersides by using a glass plate: A reed works better when the underside is perfectly plane. New reeds usually swell by the water they get, as wood often does. So did these reeds, and I did the usual thing which is sand them with an abrasive block. Thence I let the reeds rest until the next day.
The Classic Cut
The Classic cut offers a rich and warm sound. Even in the lowest register the sound does not break out but stays compact and focused. Top tones speak easily and clearly which is a real joy. The reed speaks well through all registers but needs an accurate attack. The reward is a clean staccato.
I have been playing the reeds for several weeks now, and they are very durable and stable.
The Jazz Cut
The Jazz cut has many of the advantages of the Classic cut, especially the stability and durability of the reeds throughout weeks, even after two hours or more of playing. The sound is as rich and warm as with the Classic cut, maybe a little lighter. On my mouthpiece, the Jazz cut speaks easier, the reed needs a softer attack than the Classic cut.
Comparison of Both Cuts
It took me quite a while to choose my favourite of both cuts since the reeds all are very good and have good properties. My personal preference is the Jazz cut. I was curious about how the two cuts differ from each other, and so I took my Reeds’n Stuff measuring device and tested two of each cut.
The Jazz cut turns out to be more „even“, e.g. the tip is slightly thicker than the Classic, but the incline is smaller so that towards the end the Jazz is thinner than the Classic which is cut a little steeper.
Usability on German Bass Clarinet
Many German bass clarinet players use alto saxophone reeds instead of German bass clarinet reeds. I do this, too because German bass clarinet reeds often are somewhat “stiff”, and the dynamic range is very limited. I used to play Vandoren Classic alto saxophone reeds on a Zinner 139 mouthpiece, or a Légére Signature 2 ¾. (Extremely reliable even if you are playing a gig with the bass clarinet standing aside for 45 minutes; the Légére reed cannot dry out like a wooden reed does. Invaluable!!)
I tried the Lupifaro Classic cut on my bass clarinet – did not work at all.
I tried the Jazz cut, and it worked really fine! The reed speaks easily and gives a full, soft sound throughout the range of the instrument, and the dynamic range is very good.
Lupifaro alto saxophone Jazz cut: Highly recommended for use on German bass clarinets!
About Lupifaro Reeds
The man behind Lupifaro is Italian saxophone luthier Luca Cardinali. He designed the cuts for the reeds, and they are produced by Rigotti in France. Most reed players know Rigotti as a high quality reed maker with fine woods.
Lupifaro reeds have been available since 2012, and at the same time the company came out with three series of saxophones designed and built by Luca Cardinali. Guess what – I ordered a set of saxophones from Lupifaro to try them. Stay tuned to read about Lupifaro saxophones on this blog in some weeks!
I am totally convinced by this new brand! The careful crafting and high wood quality plus the environmental-friendly packaging are a good reason to play Lupifaro reeds. (I stopped recommending Vandoren reeds to my students years ago because the packaging is so what immoderate.)
I have been playing Légére Signature for a long time because I appreciate their reliability – in contrast to the volatile properties of many wooden reed models -, but I miss the “real”, warm sound in them. Those plastic reeds sound okay, but somewhat sterile.
The world of wooden reeds got me back thanks to Lupifaro!