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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that German reed players use a ligature-literally a length of thread to attach their reeds to their m/ps, I have only ever used the standard metal ligature.I have tightened the screws really finger tight,and had them just tight enough to stop the reed falling out, but I really can't hear much difference what do others think ?
 

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I have a box filled with ligatures and the standard metal two-screw models are always superior in tone, volume, and stability. I also have a German System clarinet with a mouthpiece grooved for a string ligature. However, the piece is SO close-tipped that is unplayable for me. Dave
 

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I have only ever used the standard metal ligature.I have tightened the screws really finger tight,and had them just tight enough to stop the reed falling out,
I find that for me, "just tight enough to stop the reed falling out" may be too loose. They need to be tight enough to stop the reed shifting from the optimal position. As long as the ligature is doing this, and if the reed and table are flat, it makes no difference at al which ligature I use.
 

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FWIW, I used to consider the ligature pretty much insignificant to playability or a very minor priority. Then this happened...

A long time ago I bought a Vandoren Optimum ligature because it seemed good and comfortable (one screw, good build quality, etc.). It felt great and I kept using it for a couple of years. After about two years I started noticing something strange with my playing. It was a slow response and more resistant than I remember it. It happened gradually which made it more difficult to notice exactly what it was.

I thought maybe there something wrong with my instrument, my mouthpiece or just me. Maybe I was out of practice. I looked into everything I could. Checked the instrument, tried many different reeds, couldn't find any problem. Some reeds did help, but it always felt like there was some resistance that wasn't there. I never even considered the ligature was the problem.

Then after almost a month of this I had a rehearsal with another player. He had a weird ligature I haven't seen before. So we decided I would try it, for no reason at all really, especially nothing to do with the problem I had, which we never even talked about. He tried my Optimum, also for no reason. I couldn't believe it. From the first note I played with this different ligature my playing was back. I give a lot of weight to psychology fooling people, but a singer also in the room and this other player immediately turned to me and said how much better it sounds. It was really pretty incredible. I then went back and forth and no question, this ligature made the difference and solved the problem.

After the rehearsal I went back home and tried all the ligatures I had in my drawer. Almost all sounded as good as the one I tried. Put the Optimum back on... dead. I remember when first trying the Optimum it was great, no problems. Something happened. I don't know what, but there wasn't any visual sign or anything that would explain this. But I've given a lot more significance to ligatures since then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks people, tight enough to hold the reed seems to be the consensus, what happened to claribass, I can't think ???
 

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FWIW, I used to consider the ligature pretty much insignificant to playability or a very minor priority. Then this happened...

A long time ago I bought a Vandoren Optimum ligature because it seemed good and comfortable (one screw, good build quality, etc.). It felt great and I kept using it for a couple of years. After about two years I started noticing something strange with my playing. It was a slow response and more resistant than I remember it. It happened gradually which made it more difficult to notice exactly what it was.

I thought maybe there something wrong with my instrument, my mouthpiece or just me. Maybe I was out of practice. I looked into everything I could. Checked the instrument, tried many different reeds, couldn't find any problem. Some reeds did help, but it always felt like there was some resistance that wasn't there. I never even considered the ligature was the problem.

Then after almost a month of this I had a rehearsal with another player. He had a weird ligature I haven't seen before. So we decided I would try it, for no reason at all really, especially nothing to do with the problem I had, which we never even talked about. He tried my Optimum, also for no reason. I couldn't believe it. From the first note I played with this different ligature my playing was back. I give a lot of weight to psychology fooling people, but a singer also in the room and this other player immediately turned to me and said how much better it sounds. It was really pretty incredible. I then went back and forth and no question, this ligature made the difference and solved the problem.

After the rehearsal I went back home and tried all the ligatures I had in my drawer. Almost all sounded as good as the one I tried. Put the Optimum back on... dead. I remember when first trying the Optimum it was great, no problems. Something happened. I don't know what, but there wasn't any visual sign or anything that would explain this. But I've given a lot more significance to ligatures since then.
I'm with Pete.
Having said that, this post is suggests that a ligature that is not working properly, doen't fit right, or doesn't work properly after working right in the past etc is an issue.
Almost everyone who "endorses" (and I use that word not in the pro sense) a ligature that made a huge difference say so as a result of their previuous lig being worn out, screws stripped and not working as optimumly designed, or never actually fitting right in the first place. . "Vibration points", pressuring the reed here but not there is all snake oil. If the reed is securiely fastened to the piece, then its securely fastened to the piece. It can't be "more securely attached" than brand x that only "securely attaches" it.
So yes, ligature makes a difference. Get simple 2 scew traditional ligature, assuming the lig fits your piece properly, and is in good working order, and works as designed and you're all set.
 

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In my many years of playing single reed instruments I've tried nearly every ligature out there that I 'thought' would make me sound better.
Rovner, Luyben, standard issue 2-screw metal, inverted 2-screw metal.... I didn't sound any better, or worse for that matter, using any of them.
I currently use a Bonade inverted on clarinet because I like the way it looks on the horn.
On sax it's the standard issue 2-screw because I like the way it looks on the horn. :)

And Dave, If you want to unload that close tipped piece.... I've always been a pretty good 'hard reed player'. ;)
 

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Maybe it is snake oil, but a Rovner Light on my Excalibur 9E makes a rather stuffy, slightly "dead" sound. But a generic 2 screw metal lig opens it up to a bright, clean sound. Maybe it's all in my old head!
 

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Rovners seem to kill anything good about a mouthpiece and Vandoren probably makes someof the worst and most over priced woodwind equipment out there.
A metal ligature that has enough pressure to hold the reed flat against the table should be sufficient but I do use an inverted Bonade on my tenor Soloist that somehow makes it play better. Maybe it is the newest and is still round.
 

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Hello all. Ligatures now there's a minefield,I have tried almost everything. Rubberbands, Metal type ligs, Metal rings, Lebayle rings, Rovener types and yes String.But if I think of anything else you can bet you life, I will try that as well. Result. Selmer style ligatures and String ligs are about equal, in sound projection. The downside to string is how good are you at whipping the reed on the tapered mpc, also it looks tatty after a while. Use thin sash cord for best results, you will like it. racer.
 

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Bandmommy: Thanks for the offer but I think I'll keep it - for now. It came with the horn and it should probably be there some day for someone who gets the horn.

Whaler's comment about the inverted Bonade lig made me think of this (tongue-in-cheek) . . . I have one of each (inverted and non-inverted Bonades) for soprano. For me they are pretty close to the metal Selmer two-screw ligs for playability. But (tongue-in-cheek part) on days that are mid-week with the moon is visible during the daytime, and the dates are odd-numbered, my inverted Bonade plays pretty good; but then on a weekend evening, the non-inverted is better . . . Much depends on one's attitude, acoustical setting, and the quality of the reed when assessing ligatures, me thinks. Still, I default to the standard metal two-screw ligs. DAVE
 

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I'm with Pete as far as ligatures are concerned, but I still mess with the things even though I have a box full of them. Some are easier to use than others and some just look cool (as others have mentioned) and some part of me still wants to believe in magic, the Easter Bunny, and a ligature that will actually make my playing sound better. One day my kids will go through my stuff and wonder about all the gear I've collected over the years. At least it will give them something to smile about.

One note:I have at least set aside a bag of old ligatures to contribute to a local group that helps supply band gear to lower income kids. Might be worth looking into if you've also got a bunch that you don't use any more.
 

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After suffering with a Rovner for a few years I went back to a Selmer 2 screw. Intonation is way easier and as far as sound it's like someone placed a mike in the bell.
 

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I'm with Pete.
Having said that, this post is suggests that a ligature that is not working properly, doen't fit right, or doesn't work properly after working right in the past etc is an issue
I'm not not with Pete (not a typo). IMO and conclusion from my experience is that ligatures might not make any difference or not a significant difference, but they can make a big difference. So sometimes yes and sometimes no and just because e.g. someone tries a different ligature and nothing happens doesn't mean other times, with different ligatures or different players there won't be any difference.
 

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I had a nice long post earlier explaining why I ditched the Rovner but I had some issues trying to post because I'm new here.

I'l try to make this concise. The main difference in a one screw ligature like the Rovner or Optimum vs. a two screw like the Selmer 404 or the Rico H is the two screw allows you "customize" the reed to the table. I almost bought the Rico but since I bought a Selmer Serie II tenor new in 2004 I have become a Selmer snob of course.

Now here is simply why the 2 screw is better. When you tighten each screw individually you'll notice many times that one tightens more than the other because of the thickness difference of the reed near the vamp as compared to the screw near the heel of the reed. It took me a while to understand and absorb the difference. You can't do this with a one screw. It just clamps down in the middle.

Those of you with bias will never admit it but that's ok keep believing that all ligatures are more or less the same. I learned the hard way. Over two years of my life wondering why I have to work hard for intonation. Well no more. An epiphany!

I tried the Rovner for over two years and had to work extremely hard to maintain intonation. And when I started to practice with the Selmer I had to back away from the wall so I wouldn't lose my hearing. The horn immediately took me back to the day
I tested and bought it with a Selmer ligature of course.

I'm not talking about subtle changes. I'm talking drastic improvement with an ease of playing and way more control. And as I said about the volume difference, well it is major.

I'm so passionate about this that I joined the forum not to argue with those entrenched but to help someone who may have the same issue.

And I don't care who you are or how long you've been playing. If you approach what I'm alluding to objectively you'll come to the same conclusion, guaranteed.
 

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Hey there Clarnibass . You will never convince those who already know. Their glass is full and nothing can be added. In my second post I am specifically talking about comparing a one screw to a two screw on the same mouthpiece. Not a mix and match deal. I had exactly the experience you had. And with the Rovner I bought boxes of reeds , doubted myself, doubted my mouthpiece and even started looking at my horn with a suspicious eye. And I've got the best Selmer out there! Don't we all.

You know what you experienced and I know what I experienced and it's not incremental its major.
 

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Now here is simply why the 2 screw is better. When you tighten each screw individually you'll notice many times that one tightens more than the other because of the thickness difference of the reed near the vamp as compared to the screw near the heel of the reed. It took me a while to understand and absorb the difference. You can't do this with a one screw. It just clamps down in the middle.
What this means basically is that some ligatures are easier to be used so they are not functioning at their best. A good ligature will apply even pressure on the reed. (of course some apply pressure in the middle, some at the sides and some apply over the whole area, this is why ligatures in some cases need to be matched to mouthpieces if the table is not flat)

With a two screw and various fabric type ligs, it is of course possible to "customise" the way pressure is applied, e.g. at the front or back of the reed. Once you do this the ligature is no longer doing the job that was its traditional role. In the old days people would have said it's not on properly so the sound is bad. These days people are striving for "different" sounds, fashion often dictates that something different is somehow good, even if it isn't.

So it is possible to get different sounds from many ligatures, but only one is what traditionalists would say is correct, ie when the ligature is working properly and holding the reed firmly so there is no movement or vibration at the think end, allowing the thin end to vibrate "properly".

But there is still no inherent sound to any one make of ligature. The slightest anomaly in mouthpiece table or reed can mean that it's important to match the right ligature to a specific mouthpiece if you want it to be working 100% as a the concept of ligature/reed/mouthpiece was originally designed.

Here is a more radical example of the concept:

We all know that the "proper" way to position a mouthpiece on the neck is with the reed at the bottom. If you place it so the reed is facing the side or facing the top, I would bet a large round of drinks that it's going to sound different. Whether that "different" is better or worse is a subjective opinion. (Actually I have done that on a real life recording session, in order to get a "different" sound")

I've seen guitarists use all kinds of things instead of conventional plectrums in order to get a different sound (paint brushes, cardboard, small cats etc.). It's all valid, just different to the original concept.
 

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After the rehearsal I went back home and tried all the ligatures I had in my drawer. Almost all sounded as good as the one I tried. Put the Optimum back on... dead. I remember when first trying the Optimum it was great, no problems. Something happened. I don't know what, but there wasn't any visual sign or anything that would explain this. But I've given a lot more significance to ligatures since then.
Did you try switching the Optimum plates?

I find these discussions fascinating. The sax is a quirky instrument. Every reed sounds unique to me, even within the same box.

Regarding the Rovner, it does mute the sound but maybe this is not always bad. We know that Miles Davis loved to play with a mute. It's a different sound but not a bad sound if it fits within the context of the music.
 

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What this means basically is that some ligatures are easier to be used so they are not functioning at their best. A good ligature will apply even pressure on the reed. (of course some apply pressure in the middle, some at the sides and some apply over the whole area, this is why ligatures in some cases need to be matched to mouthpieces if the table is not flat)

With a two screw and various fabric type ligs, it is of course possible to "customise" the way pressure is applied, e.g. at the front or back of the reed. Once you do this the ligature is no longer doing the job that was its traditional role. In the old days people would have said it's not on properly so the sound is bad. These days people are striving for "different" sounds, fashion often dictates that something different is somehow good, even if it isn't.

So it is possible to get different sounds from many ligatures, but only one is what traditionalists would say is correct, ie when the ligature is working properly and holding the reed firmly so there is no movement or vibration at the think end, allowing the thin end to vibrate "properly".

But there is still no inherent sound to any one make of ligature. The slightest anomaly in mouthpiece table or reed can mean that it's important to match the right ligature to a specific mouthpiece if you want it to be working 100% as a the concept of ligature/reed/mouthpiece was originally designed.

Here is a more radical example of the concept:

We all know that the "proper" way to position a mouthpiece on the neck is with the reed at the bottom. If you place it so the reed is facing the side or facing the top, I would bet a large round of drinks that it's going to sound different. Whether that "different" is better or worse is a subjective opinion. (Actually I have done that on a real life recording session, in order to get a "different" sound")

I've seen guitarists use all kinds of things instead of conventional plectrums in order to get a different sound (paint brushes, cardboard, small cats etc.). It's all valid, just different to the original concept.

What this means basically is that some ligatures are easier to be used so they are not functioning at their best. A good ligature will apply even pressure on the reed. (of course some apply pressure in the middle, some at the sides and some apply over the whole area, this is why ligatures in some cases need to be matched to mouthpieces if the table is not flat)

With a two screw and various fabric type ligs, it is of course possible to "customise" the way pressure is applied, e.g. at the front or back of the reed. Once you do this the ligature is no longer doing the job that was its traditional role. In the old days people would have said it's not on properly so the sound is bad. These days people are striving for "different" sounds, fashion often dictates that something different is somehow good, even if it isn't.

So it is possible to get different sounds from many ligatures, but only one is what traditionalists would say is correct, ie when the ligature is working properly and holding the reed firmly so there is no movement or vibration at the think end, allowing the thin end to vibrate "properly".

But there is still no inherent sound to any one make of ligature. The slightest anomaly in mouthpiece table or reed can mean that it's important to match the right ligature to a specific mouthpiece if you want it to be working 100% as a the concept of ligature/reed/mouthpiece was originally designed.

Here is a more radical example of the concept:

We all know that the "proper" way to position a mouthpiece on the neck is with the reed at the bottom. If you place it so the reed is facing the side or facing the top, I would bet a large round of drinks that it's going to sound different. Whether that "different" is better or worse is a subjective opinion. (Actually I have done that on a real life recording session, in order to get a "different" sound")

I've seen guitarists use all kinds of things instead of conventional plectrums in order to get a different sound (paint brushes, cardboard, small cats etc.). It's all valid, just different to the original concept.
Hey there Pete. I love the smell of a good argument in the morning.

Where do I start. There are two logical fallacies in your statement, no wait actually three or more.

1. "A good ligature will apply even pressure on the reed. " Really?
"and some apply over the whole area" Huh?

No a good ligature will make the reed conform to the table.

2."With a two screw and various fabric type ligs, it is of course possible to "customise" the way pressure is applied, e.g. at the front or back of the reed. Once you do this the ligature is no longer doing the job that was its traditional role."

Really ? I'm not looking for tradition. Just a ligature that works.

3.These days people are striving for "different" sounds, fashion often dictates that something different is somehow good, even if it isn't

I'm not going to touch that one too much. So back in the day everyone was striving for the same sound? And if fashion dictates that it's good then it really isn't. What??

4.Ok so I can't count.

"So it is possible to get different sounds from many ligatures, but only one is what traditionalists would say is correct, ie when the ligature is working properly and holding the reed firmly so there is no movement or vibration at the think end, allowing the thin end to vibrate "properly"

You are telling me what some guys wrote in a book or said is the definitive way for a ligature to work.

No what's correct is when you have two separate pressure points on the reed to adjust to the thickness differential in the each part of the reed stock. Three may be even better but I've never seen one. Always look for the obvious first.
Again when you have only one screw you are assuming the pressure is even but you don't actually know. Even if it is that doesn't mean it's conforming the reed to the table i.e. again ,even distribution of pressure compensating for different dimensions between the heel and the vamp. You know the more I about it, it's just common sense. Now I see why common sense ain't common.

5. I said I can't count.

"But there is still no inherent sound to any one make of ligature. The slightest anomaly in mouthpiece table or reed can mean that it's important to match the right ligature to a specific mouthpiece if you want it to be working 100% as a the concept of ligature/reed/mouthpiece was originally designed.

I never said anything about an inherent sound coming from a ligature.
What I'm saying is the Rovner I was using stifled the sound so badly that I had to constantly work for intonation. And when I switched a louder and more importantly fuller sound emerged with all the mid and high range partials.

See one is a muffler and the other is a glass pack on a Chevy Chevelle SS 396.
I want to bring all the frequencies out and control them myself not have them muted by a piece of fabric like the Rovner or metal like the Optimum because the design can't compensate for the natural reed taper.

And finally you had to throw in a red herring didn't you?

"We all know that the "proper" way to position a mouthpiece on the neck is with the reed at the bottom. If you place it so the reed is facing the side or facing the top, I would bet a large round of drinks that it's going to sound different. Whether that "different" is better or worse is a subjective opinion. (Actually I have done that on a real life recording session, in order to get a "different" sound".

I could put my left shoe on my right foot and conversely but I don't see the point!

Ok finally for real this time.

"I've seen guitarists use all kinds of things instead of conventional plectrums in order to get a different sound (paint brushes, cardboard, small cats etc.). It's all valid, just different to the original concept."

I'm not looking to be validated just get the most sound I can get from a reed and shape it to my liking.

And as far as the original concept do we go back to Adolphe Sax? If so his DNA is probably closer to Selmer than any other brand. Yes I'm a Selmer snob.

Move away from the dogma Bro and try a Rovner on your mouthpiece and then a two screw. You will hear a radical difference. Whether you like it is subjective. I'm not here to tell you what you like.

I did it. Clarnibass did. Then you can shape it anyway you choose. That's what artists want, freedom right?
 
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