All About Ligatures
What is a ligature?
Ligatures are used to keep the reed on the mouthpiece of saxophones and clarinets. They are usually made of metal, with adjustable screws to hold the reed on the mouthpiece. Ligatures can also be made of rubber, leather and other materials. The ligature holds the reed on the mouthpiece and different ligatures apply different amounts of pressure on the reed, changing the sound the instrument makes.
What are the different types of ligatures?
Ligatures vary in shape, size, and material. The style of the ligature affects the sound of the instrument greatly. As we discussed, the pressure the ligature exerts on the reed and the placement of this pressure are important to the sound the musician is trying to create. For this reason, players will prefer different ligatures based on their style of playing.
Some ligatures have screws on the front side of the mouthpiece and some have screws on the back. Players may prefer the screws on the back so that the screws do not interfere with their mouth position.
Ligatures come in varying materials and shapes. The material of the ligature as well as its shape and style affects its sound. Many ligatures are metal, while rubber or leather ligatures are also quite popular.
Some ligatures hold the reed evenly all around the mouthpiece, while others hold the reed at fewer points of contact, enabling it to vibrate more freely.
Which ligature should I use?
How do I know what ligature is right for me? Try out different ligatures. Choose different styles and materials to see what suits your playing style. When trying out ligatures, use the same mouthpiece and reeds you normally do. That way, you are only changing one variable at a time. Since the ligature is an easily removable part of the instrument, you can also have multiple ligatures and use different ones for different playing occasions.
How do I put on a ligature?
If your ligature has screws, unscrew them almost all the way, making the ligature as large as possible. Next, slide it over top of your mouthpiece. Make sure to make note of which way the screws should be facing. The ligature should fit smoothly over the mouthpiece and not bulge out anywhere. Next ,slide the reed on the mouthpiece and align it properly. Finally, tighten the screws on the ligature.
Whether you are new to playing the saxophone or clarinet or have been playing for years, hopefully these tips give you some new insight into what your ligature can do for you!
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