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SaxoTone SuperStak Handmade Wood Ligatures

Equipment
Conn Transitional Alto 6M-type #263,xxx w/ Lamberson F^7 .085
Conn Transitional Tenor 10M-type #266,xxx Freddie Gregory HR MK II 7**
Conn Gold-plated #158,xxx Soprano w/ SorpanoPlanet Custom HR

If anyone was at the 2010 NAMM Show last month and saw Quamon Fowler (Tenor - 3rd place in the last Thelonius Monk Jazz Competition), this is the circular ligature he was playing.

Let me begin by saying that I try to maintain an open mind and ear in my musical pursuits. I have found that the best choices I can make are the ones based solely on my ear, my musical goals, and my aesthetics! Once I find any tool that excites me I will automatically incorporate it into my musical arsenal since the positive effect it has on me will be transferred to my playing and thus to my audience. This has certainly been the case with the SaxoTone SuperStack Ligature!

My first experience with the ligature came with a request from my friend, Ronnie Vu, to come by his house because he had something for me. He’s not an accomplished saxophonist and has always been a bit of a tinkerer and so more out of friendship rather than curiosity I dropped by a few days later. He handed me this solid round ring ligature for my alto saxophone and said try this … Well, here I am writing about it!

I guess my first impression was the effect it had on my sound. It seemed to make it a good bit richer, adding complexity of a sort my ear had not heard before. As I played further I also experienced a noticeably faster response in all ranges of the horn. This made it easier to play softer than I previously could with more control and a more beautiful sound! At this point, I put my original ligature back on, an Ishimori Woodstone, and it sounded pretty thin and one dimensional in comparison to the SaxoTone SuperStack. I must admit that my eyes immediately lit up. This ligature is a keeper!!!

Now, I will not pretend that there aren’t any issues to using this ligature. First and foremost is the fit of it to your mouthpiece. Since it is not adjustable in any way, it must be made to fit your particular mouthpiece at your desired level of contact with the reed. I had no idea how much this varies from player to player. Also, I did not realize the vast differences in reed thickness from different makes and models. This took some getting used to and during this period I broke a few ligatures by pushing them on to the point of breakage. Now I know what’s tight and know the “feel” of the ligature when it’s in the correct position. It’s not unlike the young saxophonist who over tightens the ligature to “make sure it’s on there!!!”. The standard ligature doesn’t break but the screws are entirely too tight! For this reason, SaxoTone sends out 2 ligs with each order for the price of one! Now I’m playing them on soprano, alto, tenor saxophones and soprano and bass clarinet! Just Wonderful!

I’m aware that similar ligatures are being made by Jody Jazz and Roberto’s in NY. I was already playing mine when these came out, but I can’t comment on them since I’ve never played them. Since there is some chatter about a large mouthpiece company picking up the SaxoTone design, I’d strongly consider getting them when they’re being made by hand by the originator! We all know how mass production affects artistic tools – Maybe not?

Bottom line is I think that these ligatures are worth a try if you’re willing to adjust to it a bit. The rewards are more than worth the time and financial investment! A friend of mine broke one at a night gig and had a session the next morning. HE HAD TO GET A REPLACEMENT!!! I agree!!!

Please contact Ronnie Vu at [email protected].

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