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M/Pieces - Ligs Why Ligatures Matter

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
You created a supposition that because clarinet players have so many different types of lig it clearly demonstrates that they therefore must have a direct affect on the sound, which is why they bought them, when it can just as easily, if not more so, come down to simply not using crappy gear.
I made a point about established top pros changing their ligature - it can’t be merely for amusement.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
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3,021
Why not?

For example, if the lig has no negative affect then there's absolutely no reason not to chop and change as and when the whim arises?

Or it could be simply visual - the mouthpiece has a silver band so tonight I'll use the Silver Hyperboid Lig. Tomorrow I'm using a Vandoren with a gold band so I'll use the Golden Gonad lig.

Or you're now using or trying a different mouthpiece so you use a different lig.

Or another freebie comes along, so you use it?

It might be that they've changed because the new lig does make a genuine improvement in sound but there's no evidence for this as yet. Just because a musician changes something doesn't mean anything unless you can have a honest conversation with them so you know definitively that they changed because they believe it made a noticeable improvement rather than, for example, that's what their latest sponsor tells them to use.

I know someone who is sponsored by a coffee machine manufacturer - the only problem is that I know he never, ever drinks coffee.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
The sponsor thing is rarely that at all. Most pros use the same gear for years because they believe it to be the best for them, which brings me back to my original point - if a change is made it is made with the belief that it is better.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
I think that high profile drummers, guitarists and bassists will get the type of sponsorship deals you’re thinking of as there are far more units to be sold than wind instruments. A mate of mine plays bass for a very well-known Supergroup, and he is sponsored by an amp company. He was given two, one to use at home and be photographed with when doing interviews and one to use on the road.
His bass is a Fender Jazz so like many pro sax players of vintage horns, there is nothing to be made there - except for a few, who, as you point out with the coffee machine “endorse” a make and model but certainly don’t gig or record on them.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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1,322
I do want to change it but not because of its build quality (it actually seems really solid), or because of a sound issue, but because it's a two-screw lig that I found took too long to work with when I had to do a really quick reed change right before I was supposed to do a solo during a gig.
This a a key point for me in ligature choice. I like something that is fast and easy to use. I love my Vandoren Optimum. One screw, easy on and off. I've tried ligs that took 5 minutes to get the reed placed and secured.
 

Zugzwang

Member
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491
Getting back to @Veggie Dave ’s Choose the Plumber with the Shiny Van analogy - I think it’s more or less dead opposite.
Call the first witness: unlacquered horns. Once upon a time all horns were shiny when new, and got to look tattier and tattier as they aged. Once you got extra kudos for turning up with an ancient horn (a rusty van in Dave’s analogy) manufacturers saw a gravy train.
As for sessions: I reckon turn up, be efficient, do the job - (personally I think it works for plumbers as well)
 
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Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
Getting back to @Veggie Dave ’s Choose the Plummer with the Shiny Van analogy - I think it’s more or less dead opposite.
Call the first witness: unlacquered horns. Once upon a time all horns were shiny when new, and got to look tattier and tattier as they aged. Once you got extra kudos for turning up with an ancient horn (a rusty van in Dave’s analogy) manufacturers saw a gravy train.
As for sessions: I reckon turn up, be efficient, do the job - (personally I think it works for plumbers as well)
I was going to say that about the old horns too. Point is, no engineer or producer either cares or knows about your sax or trumpet and they seldom see trombone players.
 
OP
randulo

randulo

Playing alto 25 months
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3,487
Order! Order! :)

Will the honorable gentlemen please admit that no one cares what ligature you use, it's up to you and if you want to spend 99£ or more and it makes you confident or happy with your sound, why not. There are different looks. Syos have lig of different colors, and several metal models from the classic houses have silver, gold, platinum, etc. Only a sax player will notice that.

What Pete said: unless you have a really original looking instrument, any non wind player isn't gonna care at all. An engineer might care about a mic or an effect box if you use those things.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
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13,268
There is confusuion about this. I have always maintained that there can be a difference between two ligatures depending on the mouthpiece but not an "inherent" difference in sound overall.

For example when comparing ligtaure A and B:

  • Mouthpiece table concave: ligature A just happens to work better due to position of pressure points
  • Mouthpiece table convex: ligature B just happens to work better due to position of pressure points
  • Mouthpiece with smaller circumference: ligature B works better because it is smaller and can tighten whereas ligature A doesn't quite tighten. With a slightly larger circumference mouthpiece both ligs are fine (assuming a flat table)
  • For the same reason, lig A and B may be different on mouthpieces with a different taper.

If the table is flat, and the ligature holds the reed securely, then I believe there is absolutely no difference.

The the ligature per se does not have a "sound."

All my professional life I have been using any old ligature, often rovners or just standard 2 screw.

I do loads of mouthpiece testing, and I use a Rovner, a Vandoren old style 2 screw or a cheapo $5 lig (the ones marked USA from American Plating.

FYI, these cheap ones were also the ones that Ron Coelho sent out with his mouthpieces - he also knew that there was no point in spending more if a cheap one such as those was a good fit.
 
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Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
Indeed. Aside from the sound or response debate, a ligature firstly has to be able to perform its main function perfectly - which we all obviously agree on.

  • fit the mouthpiece
  • tighten enough to hold the reed in (the correct) place and remain so when adjusting the mouthpiece for tuning
  • facilitate easy reed adjustment/change

From £ to £££ there are many ligatures that do all of these things, and some that don't. I tried a ligature years ago made from a material with one screw on top and with a plastic slither that held the reed. They were in different thicknesses for a "different" sound but they stretched like crazy, the plastic slither wasn't plumb upright on the reed and if you attempted to move the mouthpiece it all came away in your hand.

I think that this is a familiar scenario for a lot of us and the points above are probably the most likely reason that any chopping and changing goes on.

My original point was to the business of whether they colour the sound, and make a difference to response and when there are Pros changing their setup, it's virtually always significant and probably an interesting reason. It won't be because of looks or ability to hold the reed in place - though that new ligature with a clamp-like design (AK Rhodium) looks like you could change a reed easily in seconds, so that might score a few changes - but that's a good reason in my book.

To know that my old clarinet Prof and soloist had changed to the BG Revelation was interesting. If an F1 driver is talking about the minute differences over setup when the rest of us are more concerned about merely keeping the car from being in the scenery then I think that, going back to Pro players saying that a ligature can colour the sound and response - their views must be at least considered and not dismissed.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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13,268
then I think that, going back to Pro players saying that a ligature can colour the sound and response - their views must be at least considered and not dismissed.
I would say it's either that they got a specific lig that is a better fit for their mouthpiece (and previously had been using one that wasn't) or else it's a kind of placebo effect or auto suggestion: after paying a lot for a fancy looking lig you imagine it sounds better.

I know trhat happens to me until I record it and realise it's exactly the same.

And yes, there is an argument that only the player can hear a difference....If that is true then it's bogus to assume a ligature that is better sounding only to the player is any use at all, because then the player works less hard on their sound.

It is for the same reason sound engineers don't use hi fi monitors that make something sound better - they use flat response studio monitors.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,755
I would say it's either that they got a specific lig that is a better fit for their mouthpiece
I can't accept this as an decent reason for people that have been playing for years. Especially clarinet players where the shape and size of mouthpieces varies so little.

And yes, there is an argument that only the player can hear a difference....If that is true then it's bogus to assume a ligature that is better sounding only to the player is any use at all, because then the player works less hard on their sound.
I don't think sound needs to be "worked on". Mine certainly doesn't unless I've not picked up a horn for ages, and even then my sound is pretty much where I left it - not so my fingers. For the top players I'm talking about the only consideration of sound will be the affect of acoustic on reed response - dead acoustic = possible softer reed and lively acoustic = possible harder reed.

It is for the same reason sound engineers don't use hi fi monitors that make something sound better - they use flat response studio monitors.
This is a different argument and one about trying to maintain sound transparency.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
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3,021
Getting back to @Veggie Dave ’s Choose the Plumber with the Shiny Van analogy - I think it’s more or less dead opposite.
Call the first witness: unlacquered horns.
I'd say they were a perfect example of the all important image. There's the ridiculous argument that the coating changes the sound, but it's also about image. First of all there's the never ending cliché regarding the superiority of old instruments over new ones, so having something that looks new is for many people simply not cool. Then there's the perception from others that you're clearly an experienced player because your instrument has obviously aged with you.

That's why people love the 'aged' look. The type of instrument is irrelevant, you can get the 'vintage' look for any instrument out there.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
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2,552
Upon reflecting upon this topic I realized I think I can detect a wee difference in response, I also realized when playing it doesn’t matter to me which Lig I have on the Sax.

So perhaps some things are maybe just a wee bit easier to do .... e.g. alt D and up etc
 

Ivan

Undecided
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7,073
I sympathise with your position @Pete Effamy

But expert opinion is just... opinion, when all is said and done

It's nice to up the sax bling, but without objective evidence of benefit, a claim about a particular design, or finish, or material or manufacturing process is not worth the pixels
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,755
I sympathise with your position @Pete Effamy

But expert opinion is just... opinion, when all is said and done

It's nice to up the sax bling, but without objective evidence of benefit, a claim about a particular design, or finish, or material or manufacturing process is not worth the pixels
I'm not really saying as much. I'm just saying that the wealth of very accomplished players that say that they hear a difference or feel a difference in response between one ligature and their own surely can't be dismissed out of hand.
I'm not saying that I agree with the marketing spiel about one being brighter or darker etc, I'm am saying that when a great player comes to you and says "listen to this, what do you think?" - it's a lot of talent that is hearing something that doesn't exist.
I'm not talking about the blingy ones either. The most flash I've ever tried is the Francois Louis, which annoyed the heck out of me as it wouldn't stay on if I moved the mouthpiece.
My point is not about reading about something someone has said either, it's based upon knowing these people personally and hearing them play, sometimes alongside them.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,755
The main qualities of a ligature for me though are the fit and response. Unlike @Jazzaferri finding difference in the altissimo, for me it's in the lowest notes, and more-so on tenor than alto. Like many, I've been forced into many a purchase over the years due to non-conformity of mouthpiece size and shape. I've used the Vandoren Optimum for years though and it has never let me down, and also the Rovner Eddie Daniels which I use on Soprano.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
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13,268
The most flash I've ever tried is the Francois Louis,
This reminds of when I was at the Francois Louis stand at Frankfurt Musikmesse in 2010. I tried the FL lig, then put my 2 $5 2 screw back on, and kept swapping. Quite crowd gathered and nobody professed to hear any difference. Mr Louis then put a stop to it by taking his ligature back.
 
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