The V12 range of reeds have recently been extended to the alto saxophone. It was introduced to meet the demands of many professionals who required a different type of response from their reeds that the traditional cut.
The V12 is cut upon a thicker reed blank and leave a slightly thicker heal and tip. It has a longer vibrating surface than the traditional cut.
A bigger, darker and warmer sound may be found in the V12, contrasted with the brilliance and responsive attack of the Traditional cut. It is a file cut reed.
The reed is fundamental to producing the sound. The saxophonist sets the reed vibrating and creates sound waves that pass through the neck and out of the saxophone. The quality of each reed can greatly affect the tone that is produced. The best reeds are made from cane which is grown in Southern France, benefiting from warm Mediterranean breezes. Each reed has a slightly different cut, much like each piece of wood has a different grain, and even within a box of the same make they can vary in consistency. Popular makes of reed are Vandoren, Rico, Hemke & La Voz, and benefit by being more consistent than most, enabling the saxophonist to produce a clear sound. Certain sizes of reed suit certain sizes of mouthpiece. As a rule a narrow tip opening requires a harder reed, a wider tip opening a softer one. But again this is merely a useful guideline and as the sax player is developing he/she may find a preference for a particular size or make of reed that is an exception to the rule. Reeds must be moistened before use as this improves flexibility and the reed will have the best chance of functioning correctly. Also to keep them flat and as fresh as possible investing in a reed holder is most useful. Recent developments include Fibracell synthetic reeds which although expensive can last far longer.