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Dave Guardala reeds are half a strength harder than Ricos usually. First I toss aside the reeds that are assymetric at the cut or the buttand then I look at the opaque ness, icity?
I feel the sides of the reeds and tip and try to find reeds that feel balanced. I also stick my thumbnail into the butt to check for hardness.
Also, there are no streaks or stray splinters of cane. Also, having sanded these reeds a little, they are completely smooth. I can remember that at least one of them seemed unplayable when I first got it.
The sanding helps enormously. I use a super-fine emery cloth, which is technically a metal sander, but because it has no harsh crystals on it like sand or glass-paper, it is perfect for reeds.
Vandoren all the way for me. Vandoren are thicker in the tip and, provided you find their tone agreeable, they are easier to work on. They are also a little limited. Perhaps I just dislike the sound.
They give me the impression of super-mass production, whereas Vandoren do seem to be just a little bit more carefully made.
The one thing that irritates me intensely is being offered a box of reeds which is obviously just a collection of rejects from other boxes which have been sorted through in the shop. I never shop anywhere where this goes on. It makes financial sense, but it should also be made obvious from the outset.
These boxes should be cheaper, if anything.
I try to buy sealed boxes only. More advice, this time from Chris Neal: I sympathize with your reed troubles!! I am a believer that reeds, like mouthpiece selection, warm-up routine, etc.Good review!
I have owned the HDVA, V, Burson and EAR HP4, and agree that of these, the HP4 beats them all. However, for the HDs, I would say that the DNA Stratus, a 2a3 SET amplifier made by Donald North in the USA, has better synergy with the HDs than the HP4.
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