For some time Forestone filed reeds have been my reed of choice. I actually reviewed their original line of reeds this past January in my post-NAMM 2012 article. For those of you unfamiliar with Forestone, to recap from my article:
The Forestone reed is made up of a combination of polypropylene resin and cellulose wood fiber. Over 50% of the wood fiber used in this reed is bamboo. This material allows the Forestone reed to be flexible, resilient, and most importantly, produce a clean sound.
So when I learned of the brand’s new un-filed reeds, I had to try them out on both my alto and my tenor. This new cut reed is targeted towards jazz saxophonists going for the sounds of the 50’s and 60’s. When I first received these reeds, they reminded me of the Rico Jazz Select Unfiled, Rigotti Gold, and Alexander Superial reeds that I regularly play on both tenor and alto. According to Forestone, these reeds are “very durable and completely insensitive to all the influences of temperature, humidity and dehydration.”
Forestone Unfiled alto reed (F3)
When I tried the Forestone Unfiled reed for alto, I was surprised by how I was able to produce a focused and edgy sound. I did not expect to have so much control on a non-traditional reed. I found my upper stack to play very well in tune without being thin, sharp, or harsh sounding. The bottom end had a very full sound and required very little effort to produce. I would have to say that the feel and sound is bit different from the traditional cane reed but it will not take long to get used to playing on these reeds once you try one.
Forestone unfiled tenor reed (F4)
When I tried the Forestone unfiled reed for tenor it had many of the same characteristics as the unfiled alto reed. I found the unfiled tenor to have a clean upper register as well as a powerful bottom register. I found the middle register to be not as punchy and edgy as the top and bottom registers, but the tone was still warm and centered. This Forestone unfiled tenor reed reminded me very much of the Rico Jazz Select unfiled.
I believe the Forestone Unfiled reed will appeal to many jazz saxophonists due to the overall sound characteristics. However, the consistency and longevity of these reeds makes for a selling point as well. These reeds retail online for $30.95 per reed, which is more expensive than many entire boxes of reeds. However, I have been playing on the Forestone filed reed for close to a year and have found it to perform solidly and show very little wear. These reeds are very consistent from reed to reed and I can see why so many players carry Forestone reeds in their reed cases.
Forestone’s reed strengths are different from traditional cane strengths so I have included a link to a Forestone comparison chart with the unfiled reed comparison included. This should give you a better idea as to which reed would work best with your setup.
http://www.Forestone-japan.com/index.php/comparison-chart/ [Sorry(!), but this web page has disappeared since the original publication of this article]
If you’d like to give these reeds a try for yourself, you can find them on Amazon.com: