I recommend for beginning students that they start with a basic #2 reed (regular Ricos are fine).
It is best to have a minimum of four (4) reeds available. Overtime, reeds will wear out and/or break. You always want to have a spare one on hand.
Individual players will develop tastes for different types and strengths of reeds. There are also many synthetic reeds available. I have had a lot of luck with the Legere synthetic reed if you want to go that route. They are more expensive but last much longer than organic reeds.
I do, however, recommend standard wood reeds for beginners until the player is comfortable enough with the instrument to experiment with different types.
Keep in mind, that I can play very well with a good mouthpiece and a poor saxophone, but I cannot make the best saxophone play if I am using a bad mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is a critical element in keeping students excited about learning the saxophone.
As a general rule, mouthpieces that come with saxophones or clarinets (made by the same manufacturer as the instrument) tend to be more generic and of lower quality. Consider upgrading to a "step-up" mouthpiece.
Different types of mouthpieces appeal to different players. Once a player is comfortable with the instrument, they should feel free to experiment with as many different mouthpiece brands as possible. Most music stores should allow you to play 3 or 4 different mouthpieces in order to find one that is right for you.
Much of choosing equipment is subjective to the player. Below are some guidelines for both saxophone and clarinet that I feel may help you in choosing your equipment.
If you have any questions about your equipment or that which you are looking to purchase, please feel free to ask me and we can discuss what the best solution may be for you or your student.
The primary difference between a student model clarinet and an intermediate or professional clarinet is that student clarinets are made of plastic whereas intermediate and professional instruments are made of Grenadilla wood.
The preference of one clarinet over another is a highly subjective matter in both personal taste and financial situation. Always play the best equipment you can afford. The following instruments reflect my preferences after having played many different instruments during my tenure as a repair technician.
Student Clarinets (plastic):
Professional Clarinets (Grenadilla)
Vandoren 5RV or B45 mouthpiece
The preference of one saxophone over another is a highly subjective matter in both personal taste and financial situation. The following instruments reflect my preferences after having played many different instruments during my tenure as a repair technician.
Always play the best equipment you can afford. Below I have a list of reputable student instruments as well as professional level horns (many of which are 'vintage' and can be found used). In my opinion, the two best saxophones ever made were the Selmer Mark VI (no longer in production), and the Yamaha Custom (currently available new).
Selmer Mark VI (best of the best)
Selmer Balanced Action
King Super 20
Conn 6m (alto)
Conn 10m (Tenor)
Yamaha (62, 62 series 2, Custom)
Rousseau Studio Jazz Mouthpiece (step-up)