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Ligatures Type of ligature makes no difference to the sound


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Isle of Skye
I absolutely refuse to accept that a ligature can make any difference to a sax sound. How can it? It doesn't move it doesn't vibrate it just sits there.>:)
I absolutely refuse to accept that a ligature can make any difference to a sax sound. How can it? It doesn't move it doesn't vibrate it just sits there.>:)

Yep! It's good that you know what you firmly believe in, I'm heading in the other direction but I'm not sure if that's making me indecisive, uncertain, dithering, hesitant (take your pick) or not.

I used to be hesitant, now I'm not so sure!!

(I'm pretty sure a ligature doesn't make any difference to the sound though)
Yep! It's good that you know what you firmly believe in, I'm heading in the other direction but I'm not sure if that's making me indecisive, uncertain, dithering, hesitant (take your pick) or not.


And I cant make up my mind if I am indecisive or uncertain :)))

But seriously, I convinced myself that they made a difference a while ago but now I'm converted, I've changed my mind to the "a jubilee clip would do" camp. I have a coupe of cheap ligs and one "decent" one and there is no difference at all.
I tend to think that as long as a ligature is in good working order and fits properly, is holding the reed firmly, then another one that is also working properly wouldn't sound any different.

But I do think that if a ligature is not holding the red firmly r evenly, it might sound different. And some people might think that different sound is better. Others might not.
Depends what you mean by making a difference to the sound. I'm absolutely sure that putting the ligature on firmly - and possibly correctly for your mouthpiece - makes a difference to the way the reed speaks. I use a Rovner lig, mostly because I find one knurled screw easier and quicker to do up than the usual two on a metal one. But I find I have to hold the lig firmly against the reed with my thumb and exert some forward pressure while doing it up and this makes the reed much freer blowing. Might be just that this gets the reed flat against the mpc the whole length of the lig or it compensates for what someone else has noted that Rovners can pull together tighter at the back end and/or it might be because of the body shape of the mpc. Whatever, I find it is essential, but it is to do with the reed working correctly and not any tonal difference, if that's what you mean .
In most cases the ligature doesn't make any difference to your sound but I think there are exceptions ......

I play a Rovner Deep-V with a big window. I have a differnt feeling and sound when I use a ligature that doesen't hold the reed "wraped". The ligature I use holds the reed on the side of the stock of the mouthpiece. I might be wrong. The design of the ligature and moutpiece gives me a "louder, more powerful and brighter" sound with the ligature mounted on the mouthpiece as it's shown on the picture. I have tried to play with the ligature "wraped" and I can hear and feel a difference.

Look at diffence between a Rovner Deep-V and a Dukoff X7 (both tenor mpcs)

Here is the lig mounted as it should be. Most of the reed is "free". I think it makes a diffence! It's a plasticcover baritione reed.

I've found that if you move the ligature forwards or backwards along the mouthpiece it definitely makes a difference.
So if ligatures of different makes vary in their width the reed would be clamped in a slightly different place. By that I mean the length of unclamped reed infront of the lig would be longer or shorter which I would think effect the way the reed vibrates,
Just my thoughts ? Anyone agree after experimenting,
I switched from a cheapo 2 screw to a Rovner dark and it made a difference - but in experimenting since, I ofund that I wasn't putting the reed in the same place every time.I didn't go back to experiment again, cos I got another mouthpiece. And that's the subject of a different thread, but the lig doesn't fit properly and I get a lot of difficulties with squeaks as a result.
FWIW, I read somewhere that players have used a rubber band in emergencies. I tested this recently and did my tenor practice one. I would be lying if I claimed to have heard any difference.
Several thoughts.

1. I do notice a difference soundwise in terms of material used, and have gradually moved from Rovner Dark to Rovner EVO-5 to Selmer 2 screw metal to Francois Louis Basic. I do not imagine changing at this stage. The difference in sound is noticeable to me but not massive.

2. The difference in effect has decreased as my level of competence has increased.

3. I can tell the difference when I am playing but also my wife can tell a difference in sound - just as much so.

4. I do wonder whether more experienced players have sufficiently developed their own sound that they somehow override differences that any equipment makes, up to a point (I would say that ligatures make the least difference, compared to reed, mouthpiece, neck, sax). I listened earlier today to a saxophone comparison on YouTube (Selmer 36 Tenor & Yanigasawa T901 Tenor, with same mouthpiece/reed/player). I could tell the difference in sound, but it would not be sufficient for me to pay £4000 plus for the Selmer, rather than £2000 or so for the Yani - The difference in sound was slightly in favour of the Selmer in the lower octave, but the Yani seemed to have a more consistent sound overall - allowing for choice of music played. Similarly my own perception of sound is different listening when I play, and a recording of my sound.

So, I would say that there are differences and it is useful to have something which is easy to put on well, but that perception of differences decline the more your skill levels develop. Still prefer the FL Basic ligature though!

Kind regards
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One issue for me with the metal ligs is that they can mark the mouthpiece. Although it doesn't affect the sound, or the looks when you're using it, it affects resale value, especially here.
I've found that if you move the ligature forwards or backwards along the mouthpiece it definitely makes a difference.

I agree, but only when moved to extremes to beyond the point where it's working properly. If it is too far forward or back, it will certainly affect the sound. Whether you like that sound is purely subjective. But I believe it's the sound of a ligature not quite working properly.

But everything is worth experimenting with IMO to achieve the sound you are after.
A friend who has been learning alto for about a year using a Yamaha 4C and standard ligature bought a Rovner. His wife heard him playing upstairs and said his sound had improved, before she knew anything about the new ligature.

I realise we can all be susceptible to delusion/hearing what we want to hear, or even shifting our perception.
Bill had borrowed my Meyer (which he used with his Yamaha ligature) and didn't rate it at all. He then bought his Rovner and found with the Yamaha the sound he wanted....for now.

Doesn't it come and go for you too?
I've just acquired a Buescher TT alto from 1926, what a rich and powerful sound!
I first played it using the Meyer and thought I was happy with that. But the metal Link (with a Rovner) is nice too.
I suppose I'll have to try the Meyer without the Rovner and the metal Link with it's original ligature.

I think the permutations do make a difference.
For me.
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If a change of ligature to a Rovner makes that much difference, I believe this is a clear indication that there is either some distortion in the mouthpiece, reed or the previous ligature. As an extreme example: a Rovner that has been sat on plays much better than a 2 screw that has been sat on.
Agreed - I use Rovners or BG fabric ligs, purely because they're one screw, and it doesn't matter if you bend them!
As Buddha said - " Mouthpiece is perfect as it come from fallible human hands, especially the recent Links. A Rovner also far from perfect, though the EVO-5 is close to it. But imperfect Rovner with imperfect Mouthpiece make beautiful music and achieve heavenly sound for some mortals. On the other hand (I have several...... but that's another story) you could play trombone which is already perfect, and need no buttons, ligatures, reeds and other fancy nonsense....... Also you can sit on a Rovner, which mean it can double as meditation aid!";}
I think there's nothing like trying. I was sceptical about the effect of a ligature, until I went to the shop and tried a couple of different ones.

In the end I switched to a BG standard jazz lig on my alto. The difference from other ligs is quite striking - more rounded, darker, more even across registers. (When I started practicing at home, my girlfriend immediately noticed, without being asked or prompted that I was using the new lig - so there must be something in it). It also requires a bit more air, but is somehow helping me to play with a more relaxed embouchure (these two may be related).
I also found that, on my MP, in the normal position it slowed my articulation down, but when moved forward this was no longer noticeable.

So, quite a lot CAN change with the lig and its placement. But this does not meant that it WILL - on my soprano, I tried different ligs and, although I could hear differences, I could see no distinct advantage in one over the other. So, IMO whether or not the lig will have a meaningful effect on sound has a lot has to do with the MP, reed type, sax - and of course the embouchure.
I'll throw in my twopennorth.

If you believe a fancy lig will make a difference to your playing, then it probably will.

If you don't, it probably won't.

(Same with finish/material >:) )

I favour the latter view.

I can hear differences in saxes, including ones that are the same model, loads of differences in mouthpieces, makes of reeds. I can find differences in all the reeds from a box of 10. But I've never been able to detect any difference in ligatures, providing they're holding the reed on correctly. Metal ones, fabric ones, elastic bands, gaffer tape, even just holding it on with a thumb - all the same to my ears.

But then I think MkVIs are vastly overrated (apart from the sops which are underrated), so what do I know?

I should add a caveat here. I'm 57 years old and my hearing is not what it used to be.:)

Getting older and crabbier.
Getting older and crabbier.

We can't judge that from here, but your set of assumptions is not a bad starting point for anyone trying to work out what is going on.

There are many traps for the unwary, and the ligature makers and advertisers of materials know them all.

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