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Favorite Ligatures


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
did someone say something ?

some people can hear differences in ligatures some others can't. I never push this "concept" as those that do not believe have their "facts" and vice versa.

Years ago I played in front of a pro clarinetist. He loved my playing. except for the annoying high pitch squeal that *he* was hearing. After some teaching back and forth I finally heard what he was hearing. To make a long story short, after swapping around somehting like 6 clarinets, as many mouthpieces and reeds I finally used one of his ligs where the reed wasn't "pinched" like it was on the double screw metal band (without a cradle indent).

Then miraculously the squeal was no longer there and the tone was improved on anything with the octave key. Since then I've learned the virtues of various ligatures. On clarinet I have the optimum - with the 3 plates that do sound differently and provide minute variances in reed response, BG revelation, regular BG, rovners, vandoren klassik and various others.

The biggest issues i've found is that if the ligs are overtightened, they then loose their specific properties - such as the optimum plate with 1 little pin on each corner - if you over tighten the pins jab into the reed and you basically get the entire flat plate supporting the reed. In a clarinet acoustic book that I purchased it reviews the ligature in the sound production.

Of course, over tightening and the mpc being flat and proper curve is also very important along with a mature embouchure.

of course, age has its impacts on it too ... speaking of which .. what were we talking about ??


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
I remember a number of years ago, when the Selmer discussion board was still a viable entity, Miles Osland wrote about ligatures. His view was simple: they hold the reed to the mouthpiece. Period. He didn't subscribe to the theory that ligs made a big difference. Get one. Use it. Focus on the big stuff: proper breath support, embouchure, mouthpiece choice, reed choice, etc. etc. Those all have a far greater effect on the tone than a ligature. He really stressed that ligs were a non-issue as far as he was concerned.
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Broadway Doubler List Owner
Distinguished Member
My very favorite ligature is my own thumb, except that it somewhat limits the number of notes I can play.

I agree that the ligature has only one function--to hold the reed in place. I do find, however, that there are a number of ligatures that don't seem to do this well. Some seem to hold the reed in a way that is somehow slightly crooked or misaligned, so that the flat of the reed isn't in full, even contact with the table of the mouthpiece. I think that a very small failure in this area can translate to a big failure in reed response.

I do find that different ligatures, even if they hold the reed against the mouthpiece in a satisfactory way, feel distinctly different to play on, and there are some I personally like better than others. I don't find that they sound different to observers, although I would certainly grant that I probably play better when the ligature feels good to me.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Generally I play generic 2-screw ligs and like 'em fine. But, my Wanne Durga has its own lig, which is ok. Also, I've got a very nice Italian knock-off of a Selmer Magnitone which is adjustable for most any piece alto - tenor (and many sop and bari!) and which feels really good to play (and looks cool!).

But, 90% of the time, 2-screw.
... Since then I've learned the virtues of various ligatures. On clarinet I have the optimum - with the 3 plates that do sound differently...
+1 (or + 10). I'm now 100 % Optimum, and I do think those who pretend not to hear any difference when swapping the 3 plates provided either are a bit deaf or don't want to hear that difference. On another hand, all the Rovners I've tried seem to kill the brightness with remarkable efficiency.


Old King Log
Staff member
The way the player senses sound is quite different from what the user hears. Blind testing (having an anonymous third party play the same passages with different ligatures on recordings or behind a screen) is the only way to evaluate what the listener hears, which is (for all practical purposes) what really matters.
On clarinet, Luyben (the world's best bargain) or Bonade.
On sax, Selmer 2-screw or Hite (another good buy). I occasionally go back to an FL lig on tenor. Good sound, but not different enough to be worth the adjustment hassle.
Lately I've been useing the Rico H ligature on my alto and tenor mpc.'s. I was trying a Rovner Mklll but found it was stuffy and made my mpc's hard to blow.
What do you guys like for ligatures.

My favorites are mostly standard metal ligs. I like the functionality of the Vandoren Optimum but rarely use them anymore.

I have a rather nice collection of ligs to chose from including harrisons, vintage links, assorted Selmers, and a number of off brand stuff. I still have the ligature that came with my student horn. I did finally sort them by instrument type last year.
I also am a fan of metal ligs. My favorite would be the ultimate ligature by Francois Louis ligature