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I've been playing stock ligatures for the whole of my sax carrier but have been hearing a lot of hype about "better" ligatures. I make some money on the weekends, so I could easily afford something like a rovner, but I don't want to waste my money if the difference really isn't that significant. So, do you guys think its worth it to get a new lig?
 

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I'm in the "it doesn't make a big difference" school. I find some ligs are a bit easier to put on and center the reed in, some just look nice (and some not so nice), and some are real dogs. If you have one of the latter and can't tighten your reed securely you have a huge selection to choose from. If you know anyone who's using an interesting lig, why not ask to borrow it?

For the record, besides stock ligs, I've used:

on tenor:

Rovner Light — works well on the Reglein J8
Rovner EVO5 — damn nice looking but I don't see a big tonal difference compared with the stock Link
various clarinet and soprano ligs
O-ring

on bari:

Rovner Dark

on clarinet:

Brancher
Robert Vinson — I'm currently very "up" on this lig, it's a "best buy"
shoelace
 

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kage62 said:
So, do you guys think its worth it to get a new lig?
Not without trying them first I think. Some people seem to get a lot out of a fancy lig, others little or no difference to their stock lig. Like everything else it seems the old adage YMMV holds true and what I happen to like might not work for you. Can you get to a store and try some?


(edited because I can't spell)
 

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Rick Adams said:
Not without trying them first I think. Some people seem to get a lot out of a fancy lig, others little or no difference to their stock lig. Like everything else it seems the old age YMMV holds true and what I happen to like might not work for you. Can you get to a store and try some?
Just from a purely mechanical point of view.
One good thing about Rovners is that you aren't likely to scratch the plating on a metal Link.
The downside is that the Link cap won't fit over a Rovner so you have to use their plastic caps which tend to split as they seem a bit tight.
 

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Hey kage62, why not post a location in your profile and see if somebody near you will let you try out a few different ligs? Most of us have a few different ligs we aren't using and would part with for little to nothing.
 

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On sax, I can't tell the difference between ligatures that work well. A ligature that doesn't work well is one that damages reeds (usually when they cut into the bark), one that doesn't seal, or one that seals but isn't secure.

I've used a Selmer two-screw 404 ligature on my Otto Link for awhile now, and it's great. It's simple, effective, secure and easy to use. Not too expensive, either.

I recently got an Olegature. In the first day, I thought I heard all kinds of tonal nuances in my sound that had never been there before. Over the next 5 days or so, I got really excited about it and played it all the time. I was having trouble with it slipping around a little bit, though, and put my 404 back on. All of the nuances that I thought the Olegature borught out were there on the 404. I went back and forth and couldn't tell the difference. I ended up sticking with the 404. It's easier to use and more secure. I'm a big fan of secure. Now I have an Olegature that I need to get rid of.
 

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All of the nuances that I thought the Olegature borught out were there on the 404. I went back and forth and couldn't tell the difference.
Been there, man!

Here's a question I asked on another forum:

Many players and lig ads talk about a "freely vibrating" reed. How much sound is produced below the vamp of the reed, on the solid table of the mpc? Isn't the sound generated from the point where the curve of the mouthpiece lay begins and extending to the tip, where the reed interacts with the embouchure? Is the idea that the vibrating tip of the reed is organically connected, by longitudinal fibers, to the base of the reed which is secured to the table? Then wouldn't "free vibration" of the vamp area be superfluous in synthetic reeds? A tuning fork sounds the same whether you grasp the handle lightly or have it locked in a vise.

While I haven't noticed a big sonic difference between ligs, I do notice that some ligs are easier to use, some seem made out of better material, some look elegant, and some look really ostentatious. Not noticing any acoustic difference could, of course, be linked to my individual hearing — but does computer analysis show significant differences in sound quality caused by ligature tightness, material, or design?

The biggest problem I have in comparing different ligs is being absolutely certain that all conditions remain constant, for instance, using the same reed, the reed is identically positioned, etc. Also it seems unfair to warm up a reed using one lig, then put a test lig on after the reed is conditioned and conclude that any difference in playability is due to the lig alone.

The Vinson clarinet lig I mentioned has a nice feature in that you can just slip it on and off without having to adjust the screws every time. This might be more pronounced on a clarinet mpc because they have more of a conical taper that most sax mpcs.
 

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The purpose of a lig:

Holds the reed flat and distributes equal pressure from the center of the reed to the sides. Makes a good seal.

Doesn't slip when tuning your mouthpiece.

Goes on easy and comes off with little effort.

Doesn't damage the reed(crushing fibers) or the mouthpiece...sharp edges that can catch scratch a mpc and or tip.

Doesn't dampen the vibration of the reed...probably stay away from those ligs that have a lot of fabric, unless you want to dampen a bright sounding mpc.

And doesn't cost a small fortune. Stay away from boutique ligs that look like they were made by a jeweler. Usually in the $50 price range and up.

Ligs I recommend:

Selmer stock brass and metal 404,

Vandoren Masters for hard rubber,

Rovner- EVO, light, dark, in this order, but not the MKIII or ED as they have too much bulk.
 

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Heath,

This is pretty much my experience too.

If you have an oppurtunity to do so, try a Vandoren Klassik string ligature and report back to us about how it works for you. Vandoren currently makes the Klassik only for clarinet and alto saxophone. The alto lig expands enough to fit a tenor hard rubber mouthpiece.

The Klassik came highly recommended to me by a classical clarinetist buddy. I was concerned that it might dampen my sound...like a Rovner Dark. But, when I tried it I was totally floored by how it actually made my sound bigger, more resonant, and increased my projection -- the complete opposite of what I thought it might do. I am so impressed with this ligature that I've been raving about it every chance I get.

Roger
 

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I am asssuming, kage62, that you are relatively inexperienced, and hope I am not insulting you in the process.

I like Rovner (for alto and bari) and BG (for sop and tenor) because the single screw adjustment is so simple to use without crushing the reed. The choice of make is largely an accident, but I could not get a BG for alto and found the BG slipped on bari ... but all that is probably just me or just historic, and is not necessarily a guide for others.

In all cases I use the cheapest model; there really is no need to go higher - at least until developing to a really advanced stage. I think this advice tends to echo Heath's.

Incidentally, Roger, you used to be sold on Charles Bay ligs; when did you change your allegiance?
 

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Pinnman,

Bay ligatures are definitely good. In fact, I noticed that Lawrie Bloom (bass clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony) uses a silver Bay lig.

What happened is that as I became settled into using Legere reeds I discovered I was having a problem with Bay ligs in that Legere reeds were not sealing correctly...especially, along the side rails. I had similar problems with a number of ligatures that are excellent with cane reeds. I then discovered that I get better results with Legere reeds using the Masters ligature. It provides exactly the kind of sealing I need with Legere. Finally, when I tried the Klassik string ligature it all came together for me. It seals Legere reeds correctly and the quality of sound, response, and projection I get with it is superior to ANY metal ligature I've used.

I'm still using the Masters on bass clarinet and getting good results. But, I hope that Vandoren will get around to making a Klassik for that instrument.

Roger
 
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