Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Surprising Turn of Events: Rico Reeds, the Orange Box Reviewed

I would have never guessed these reeds would turn out to be a part of my regular setup, but they have now been on my mouthpiece every day for a week.  Three gigs and counting...

I have been playing the orange box reeds on my Florida Otto Link metal mouthpiece, and I get a full and balanced tone throughout the registers of the horn.  There is enough bite and vibrance to cut, but the tone isn't too bright or edgy either.  I should also mention that I place my ligature toward the back of the mouthpiece, and reeds can sound a little thin if I place the ligature further to the front.

The response of the reeds is fantastic though they need to be pushed a little more in the low end to get the same easy feeling as the rest of the range.  Climbing into the altissimo register feels very easy.  The extreme flexibility and ease of play does have a down side.  The reeds don’t last as long as other types of reed which are made with a less flexible cane.

As far as reed consistency goes, I’ve now played on six orange box reeds and I’ve only had one that I would not play on a gig.  That being said there is a great degree of variation between reed strengths in a single box.  I’m playing on size 3 ½ reeds and the strengths have ranged from almost too easy to almost too hard.  There does seem to a fair amount of inconsistency in that respect.

I’ll let you all judge for yourself.  Here are a couple of sound clips for your critical ears.  First, is a full range-ish chromatic scale, and the second is a blues.

Full Range-ish Chromatic Scale

Ben Plays the Blues

Conclusion: Rico orange box reeds are surprisingly good when combined with the right setup.  They can produces a full and balanced tone.  On the negative side the reeds don’t last as long as some other types, and they are fairly inconsistent in terms of reed strength.

Ben's New Setup: 3 ½ Orange Box Rico Reeds, 7* Florida Metal Otto Link, Selmer Super Action Tenor


  1. Orange Box!! O.O

    Sounds good to me. Maybe a little less focused, more spread / hollow than the other clips you posted here, but the distance from the mic or how it was positioned could account for the difference as well.

  2. I know what you mean. What I hear in the sound isn't hollowness. The main difference I hear is in the purity of tone. The orange box have a purer tone with less distortion in the sound. That thicker sound in the other sound clip, in my opinion, is coming from a kind of distortion or edge in the sound and not from greater focus.

    If you get a chance check it out again listening for the purity and let me know what you think.

    These reeds are still focused, however when they get too soft they do become less focused like any reed. That being said the sound clip of the blues is on a reed that was just a little softer than I'd like.

  3. Nice clips Ben, I am also a very recent convert to Rico Orange reeds (perhaps we could call the Ror's instead of typing their full name out?)They give me a good sound on my alto and they seem to last longer than a lot of other reeds and so far they have all worked. The other bonus point is that they are available in bigger boxes. I buy mine in boxes of 25 from ebay (they also come in 50's) for £14.50 inc delivery which is very good value.

    Keep up the good work with the site


  4. Love your sound and approach! Great article....over the years, I have gone through RJS, Vandoren, Rigotti, Alexanders, Hemke.., bass clarinet reeds, brown box ricos, 20-40 year old ricos....filed and unfiled...etc...nowadays, I too am a believer in the orange box ricos.... when the right one comes along, there's just nothing like it...some play straight out the box, some may need a little work, maybe a few duds....but overall I'm thankful to have have "re-discovered" these...actually a long time tenor playing friend of mine gave me a few 2.5 recently to try and it just immediately felt and sounded like the horn was supposed, depth and fullness throughout the instrument... using 3's now and work on 'em a little...8* hard rubber link copy w a Rovener L8

  5. Hey, Thanks! I'm stuck on Select Jazz Reeds these days, but orange box can be great. I've recently been tempted to try Rigotti, so I might put a review of those up sometime soon.