To play a single reed instrument you need to attach the reed to the mouthpiece, and there are various ways to do this, with different effects on the playability and the sound you create.
Attach a reed too tight and it will stifle your playing, could break the ligature and make you squeak. Attach the reed too loosely and it will move around, still make you squeak, and also break your reed!
A standard beginner's ligature tends to be a metal ligature. These are cheap, cheerful, and in many respects do the job of holding the reed in place quite nicely. However, because of their price accessibility, they are made of materials that are often quickly damaged; the ligature can easily become miss-shapen, which means it's not holding the reed in place particularly well. It's also holding the reed in position in a very functional way; not in a way that gets the most/best sound out of the reed.
A popular step up from metal ligatures are from Rovner. This is a company dedicated to single reed ligatures, from soprano saxes to bass clarinets. Broadly speaking these are priced for the discerning student, and worth spending a few extra pounds on when you're a student. They use a leatherette material in their most popular lines. These are the ones we sell most of:
Rovner Light. This has a cutaway over the reed clamp. It gives a lighter tone colour without the brighter focus of metal.
Rovner Dark. This lig has a solid band over the reed clamp, giving a warm dark tone colour, great for section playing.
Rovner Custom. Much like the Dark, the custom has a more substantial solid band for a rich dark sound.
Vandoren ligatures are a step-up again from Rovner. Their market is definitely for the amateur and above. They use much stronger metals, giving a more hard-wearing ligature.
Vandoren M/O. This relatively new metal ligature comes in various finishes. It features a unique double threaded screw mechanism, giving minimal contact point to the reed. It gives a crisp, focussed sound, and is my personal favourite at the moment.
Vandoren Optimum. For instrumentalists who play in varied settings, the three different interchangeable reed pressure plates enable the player to customise their sound, again using the unique double threaded screw mechanism.
Vandoren Klassik. Slightly less popular, but of note, this is a string ligature, emulating the sound of some continental/European musicians.
Vandoren Optimum Leather. With interchangeable plates, this lig gives more options to customise the sound but still maintaining a warm responsive tone colour.
BG sell a variety of accessories, which includes a successful and broad range of ligatures.
BG Leather Ligature. This ligature features a ribbed rubber plate for a mellow warm sound, ideal for a section.
BG Leather Revelation. Two metal ribs give a clear sound and clear articulation.
BG Leather Super Revelation. Two gold-plated ribs give extra focus and good staccato/articulation. This is a good ligature to consider if you're a soloist.
These ligatures above are just some of many. There are various other companies offering more innovative ways of attaching reeds to mouthpieces. Check out this blog on JLV for another exciting manufacturer.
Want to try some of these ligatures out? You can have a trial. Call me on 01823 282386, email, or visit the shop to find out how...