M/Pieces - Ligs Ligatures don't matter?

randulo

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Eric Marienthal has spoken about ligatures in his videos on ArtistWorks. One thing he said, which I tried and think is correct, is that if you use a two-screw model, you should tighten the bottom screw first, than the top a little less to allow the reed to vibrate more easily. It has been blithely stated on this site that you can "use a rubber band to hold the reed". Now, I'm not one to fear the slings and arrows here, so I submit to you that I have seen how sensitive the placement and tightness of the reed can change the sound. Eric even mentions a friend who purposely skews the reed a little to the right to get his sound. Try this, you'll see it's true. It may or may not be the sound you want. I have a collection of ligs, from Syos plastic rings, to one and two screw models. Right now I am following the advice and using a two-screw model as he describes and it does seem to work. I have a very short experience in these things, though, and I'd prefer the colorful Syos ligs on stage. Anyway, consider this an invitation to sound off on this topic,, do you think ligatures are important? It seems obvious to me that a truly great and experienced player will be able to power through any situation, but may prefer a type of ligature.

IMG_20191108_175007.jpg


Shields up, if need be, for your participation. I believe beginners and new site members/visitors will benefit from a new discussion.
 
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Jazzaferri

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While the differences in sound coming to ears several feet away may well be indistinguishable unless the hearer has very sophisticated and sensitive hearing, I feel/hear differences in two areas.

The most noticeable to me is in reed response. I know that Legere Signatures that I have played for the last 7 or 8 years. (ARML moment) are fussier than most as to placement but I really do notice a difference between ligs that press on the edges and ligs that put pressure on the middle.

I also feel??? (more likely through bone transfer than ears but I don't know that ligs that allow the reed to vibrate more naturally through the length seem to be a bit brighter?? richer in overtones?

The differences are subtle but real to me.
 

jonf

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For years I worked at a research establishment, and I think I know the way to settle this. A double blind trial, in which neither the player nor the audiance knows which lig is being used. The only variable is the ligature, which may be either changed or not. See what the results are without the confounding that comes from the player's perception of what may or may not change when a different lig is used.
 

jbtsax

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Our school one time hosted a folk dance group from Germany that brought a small group of musicians. After the dance performance I invited the musicians to visit my beginning band class. which they did. The students were fascinated that both clarinetists held their reeds on the mouthpiece using string. None of us could speak a word of German, nor could they speak English, but we communicated through the language of music. We were rehearsing an arrangement of Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and the musicians sat in and played their parts right next to the students reading the "universal language" printed on the parts.
 

Pete Thomas

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do you think ligatures are important?
Incredibly important.

Without them the reed falls off the mouthpieces.

However I don't believe the voodoo that a ligature can have a specific sound.

If a ligature is working properly, holds the reed evenly against the mouthpoece that is all that is neeed.

When there are ligatures that appear to be different sounding on a mouthpiece, it is purely due to whether that maouthapiece mauy or may not have a flat table. if the table is distirted or convex/concave then the type of ligature and the eway it is attached can make a difference.

See:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWGLMyCg04s
 
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randulo

randulo

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He's not here to answer, but what if Eric was talking about the player's comfort and feel, not the sound? I think he's saying, let the reed vibrate, make it stable and secure. Sure, you could use gaffers tape or twine, but a normal ligature might help you concentrate on producing the sound you want. This is conjecture on my part, but I don't think his comment was about sound, but ease of producing sound.
I will try to get his answer on the school forum.
 

Pete Thomas

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He's not here to answer, but what if Eric was talking about the player's comfort and feel, not the sound?
Oh, I missed that.

But as the ligature is something that the player doesn't actually come in contact with, I don't quite understand how it could have a comfort or feel. Unless he means the comfort and feel of when you are tightening it up? But even then I don't understand.
 

saxyjt

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What I think is that it's a never ending story. There are so many ways to set the reed on the mouthpiece with a ligature. Except with screwless ligatures like SYOS' and I have some reservations on these as they cannot be set where you want. Just where it is tight and that will depend on the reed's thickness. So it's variable.

I have many different kinds of reed's. Can't really say what I prefer soundwise. I just like the simplicity of single screw ligs.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Oh, I missed that.

But as the ligature is something that the player doesn't actually come in contact with, I don't quite understand how it could have a comfort or feel. Unless he means the comfort and feel of when you are tightening it up? But even then I don't understand.
The stability, Pete.
 

Wade Cornell

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Seems to me like the promotion of expensive Ligatures is a way to part Gas junkies from their $$. If it works and feels OK then that's about all there is to it. Expensive ligatures aren't going to make much (if any) difference to your sound...and that's all it's about: how you sound. They do have to work properly though and it's possible to pay a lot and get crap. An example (IMHO) is Theo Wanne's "enlightened" ligature that comes with (some/all?) his mouthpieces. Looks nice, but very poor design. Doesn't hold the reed firmly and is bulky. When you pull the mouthpiece off your horn, it always mucks up the reed alignment. It can also go out of alignment while playing. If you're in the market for buying a lig and buy one of Theo's, the only thing that will be [en] lightened will be you wallet. If you know the configuration that you're after, then some of the El Cheapos out of China can be better. There's also a lot of crap you can buy from China...but at least it doesn't cost as much.

I recently bought some Chinese ligs that are (sort of) modeled on Vandoren Optimum, but only costing a few $$ each. Do they work as well? Yes! If you want to make changes to play better: 1. Practice playing the sound you want. 2. Work on your reed (if it's cane) or try and find a reed that works better for you. If those suggestions don't help: 3. Think about changing to a different mouthpiece that's gong to help give you the sound you're after.

Looking at E-bay they have three ligatures listed there for $350 or more. Send me $100 and I'll send you a perfect working ligature with a "magic feather" attached!. Guaranteed to work and guaranteed to last the lifetime of the product!
 
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randulo

randulo

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Seems to me like the promotion of expensive Ligatures is a way to part Gas junkies from their $$. If it works and feels OK then that's about all there is to it. Expensive ligatures aren't going to make much (if any) difference to your sound
Absolutely agreed. At one point I was going to start a post about reeds, as in how you put them on the mouthpiece. This is the crux of Eric's comments on reeds and ligatures. Each of you has a way to put the reed on. I recall some say the tip should be placed as to leave a little of the black (if that's the color) mouthpiece tip, others say you should not see it. Does everyone have vision sufficiently accurate to have the reed centered over the mpc? Should it be perfectly centered? There are even diverse opinions about that! Back to ligatures, it's not the ligature that affects the sound, it's the reed and its freedom to vibrate, and obviously embouchure so let's not even discuss that for now. The human "at the wheel" is definitely the driver of the sound, timbre, intonation, volume. Aside from this, of course the mpc is a big thing for sound and loudness. I think we'd all agree on this. What the ligature affects, though, is how stable the reed is and how it vibrates. Isn't the traditional wisdom to NOT make the ligature too tight? I suppose each of us has a way to measure this. With regard to Wade's quote above, I'd say that a quality ligature doesn't tarnish with normal care. It doesn't break when you put it on in the dressing at Jazz After Dark. It doesn't loosen while you're playing. That should be a matter of less than 25 £, € or $. The way these could be banged out, I don't even see why they couldn't make and market one for 10 or less. Perhaps the small market, as opposed to say, flower pots, is why they're relatively expensive?

Anything else we haven't mentioned about ligatures? If you usually use a one-screw lig, would it bother you if you lost it and had to use a borrowed two-screw lig?
 

jonf

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Now I am puzzled. One thing I have never, ever noticed, after nearly 40 years of playing, using all sorts of different ligatures, is an unstable reed. Using one screw, two screw, Lawtron clamp, Rovner style fabric and cheapo copy ligs, string and rubber bands I have never noticed the reed being stable. In fact, the one common feature of them all is that they all hold the reed stable.

There is an objective structured way to test this, but I guess the proponenents of the £200 ligature wouldn't want to go that way, as their wealth depends on players' belief, not objective evidence. Same scenario as those selling homoeopathic products as if they were medicines.
 
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randulo

randulo

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When I posted this, I wasn't thinking of price, but simply of the different styles and how they hold the reed in place. All of the comments are interesting, though, and that's a plus here at the Café. Thanks!
 

Rikki

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While the differences in sound coming to ears several feet away may well be indistinguishable unless the hearer has very sophisticated and sensitive hearing, I feel/hear differences in two areas.

The most noticeable to me is in reed response. I know that Legere Signatures that I have played for the last 7 or 8 years. (ARML moment) are fussier than most as to placement but I really do notice a difference between ligs that press on the edges and ligs that put pressure on the middle.

I also feel??? (more likely through bone transfer than ears but I don't know that ligs that allow the reed to vibrate more naturally through the length seem to be a bit brighter?? richer in overtones?

The differences are subtle but real to me.
I also use Legere Signatures as they work much more effectively than cane reeds here in the humid warm weather of Sydney. I am using a Morgan Fry Jazz + mouthpiece and use a Rovner platinum ligature to secure the Legere reed as it was going cheap at the time. I recently however ordered a Marc Jean ligature as the platinum is a bit fiddly to use and the Marc Jean seemed to have good reviews. Unfortunately I found that the Platinum was for my setup markedly superior, as it gives a much more secure fixing for the reed to the mouthpiece. And it is not just a feeling, the reed is much more responsive and alive, tone exercises much easier with a noticable increase in volume. This maybe because the platinum is able to put appreciable pressure on the edges of the reed.
 

Rikki

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Absolutely agreed. At one point I was going to start a post about reeds, as in how you put them on the mouthpiece. This is the crux of Eric's comments on reeds and ligatures. Each of you has a way to put the reed on. I recall some say the tip should be placed as to leave a little of the black (if that's the color) mouthpiece tip, others say you should not see it. Does everyone have vision sufficiently accurate to have the reed centered over the mpc? Should it be perfectly centered? There are even diverse opinions about that! Back to ligatures, it's not the ligature that affects the sound, it's the reed and its freedom to vibrate, and obviously embouchure so let's not even discuss that for now. The human "at the wheel" is definitely the driver of the sound, timbre, intonation, volume. Aside from this, of course the mpc is a big thing for sound and loudness. I think we'd all agree on this. What the ligature affects, though, is how stable the reed is and how it vibrates. Isn't the traditional wisdom to NOT make the ligature too tight? I suppose each of us has a way to measure this. With regard to Wade's quote above, I'd say that a quality ligature doesn't tarnish with normal care. It doesn't break when you put it on in the dressing at Jazz After Dark. It doesn't loosen while you're playing. That should be a matter of less than 25 £, €or $. The way these could be banged out, I don't even see why they couldn't make and market one for 10 or less. Perhaps the small market, as opposed to say, flower pots, is why they're relatively expensive?

Anything else we haven't mentioned about ligatures? If you usually use a one-screw lig, would it bother you if you lost it and had to use a borrowed two-screw lig?
With regard to reed placement I have found the best advice came from Mr Runyon. I position the reed so that when I push the reed tip against the Mouthpiece it exactly aligns with the mouthpiece tip, this to me makes obvious sense and is much easier to achieve, I also ensure that the reed is parallel and centred on the table (incidently I have long given up on cane reeds in Sydney, using exclusively Legere Signature which being transparent make it very easy to centre the reed on the table)
 

thomsax

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I want a ligature .....
..... to hold the baritone reeds (baritone) on a tenor mouthpice in a good way.
..... that keep most of the stock free for the tone I like.
For me a std two screws is out of question. It doesn't fit due to the design of the mouthpiece. Ligatures matters. At least for me.

My Rovner mouthpieces with a big window and a small table.
rovner 7mm.JPG
Rovner with two differnt ligatures. A ligature like the one to left is best for me. But I use an Ed Daniel ligature with interchangeable plates.
rovnerlig.JPG
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I know that many people say that the ligature doesn't matter as long as it holds the reed, but that is not my personal experience at all.
I have tried various ligatures on various mouthpieces and they seem to me to make a big difference.
It's not just the sound that varies, it is the attack as well.

Frankly, I don't care whether the listener can hear any difference - what matter to me is whether one ligature feels better than another.
If I feel happier and more confident with ligature X then that's what matters.

If I get a new mouthpiece (which has happened rather too often!) then I spend a bit of time finding the ligature that I think works best with it.
At present I have ended up with different makes and models on my mouthpieces.
In so far as I have a favourite, my current favourite ligature is the Vandoren MO - I use them on alto and tenor, but they don't fit all mouthpieces.

I once spent a happy hour in Howarth in London trying some expensive ligatures. The Silverstein cryogenic one did nothing special for me. But other people may have a different experience.

The most aesthetically pleasing ligature I own is an Olegature. (I saw a second-hand one at a reasonable price, and GAS took over.) But it is a nuisance to use.
 
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