Do ligatures really make a difference in tonal qualities ?
If a mouthpiece has a perfectly flat table how does the ligature affect the way the reed responds ?
Many experts say , well, many things. Some say a ligature has no impact others say it does.
I believe a ligature does have an impact on tonal qualities. Assuming a good embouchure (and reed). Try to use as light pressure as possible on the ligature while maintaining good tone. I think if the ligature is not "crushing" the reed it will allow the reed to vibrate more freely.
Several years ago I played one of my clarinets for a retired pro player. He interupted me and said that I had great tone and technique but my tone had a very high pitched squeal to it. It took me a minute to recognize that but he was right. it was there.
We happened to have about 8 clarinets, over a dozen mouthpieces etc at my disposal right there. So I went through different clarinets and different mouthpieces even different reeds !! the squeal was still there !!!
Why? How ?
The only item I did not change through this entire endeavor was the ligature. It was a simple lower double screw. I found a ligature with a flat plate that held the reed. I tried it ... to my amazement the squeal was now gone. completely. My tone was now much more pure and clear .. wow.
It goes to show you no matter what, there is always someone else that knows more and can hear things that you may be overlooking.
But, there are many, many ligatures on the market today. I don't play the ligature GAS game. I visually look at them and identify whether I think they could help my tone. Some I avoid because they look too delicate, or too expensive.
The best ligature I've found for the money are:
Vandoren Klassik - a string ligature which seems to allow the reed freedom and gives the tone more colors. I would only use for extended playing though as I would not want to stretch it out too much.
Vandoren Optimum (or Masters) - The optimum really lets you play around with your tonal quality. the 3 plates vary it ever so slightly. but be aware that the plate with the 4 pins needs to be on light pressure, otherwise you simply entrench the pins into the reed. The Masters is nice too as it is cheaper but duplicates the plate with the high and low ridges.
Rovner or DG other other leather ligs - very quick and easy too use and inexpensive. Though these seem to deaden the tone a bit especially if over tightened.
So why did the double ligature create such a problem? looking at it it seems to pinch the reed from the sides way too much and also clamps down from the top. Other lower double screw ligatures vary in their clamp but this is certainly something to look out for.
before anyone asks .... no scientific study was done .. i just tried a bunch of ligatures, fiddled with screw pressure, etc over time.