A Comparison of 3 Popular Saxophone Ligatures

Ligatures- do they make a difference? I have heard and read many reviews about the saxophone ligature and whether or not it had an effect on one’s sound. From my personal experience, I think a ligature has two goals.

The first goal is to simply hold the reed on the mouthpiece, and the second goal is to make the reed vibrate in a way that allows you to best express yourself. I will be reviewing three ligatures that I believe make a difference in a player’s sound while allowing the player to get that little something extra they have been looking for in their sound.

Vandoren Optimum ligature

Vandoren Optimum LigatureWhen I bought my V16 t45 metal mouthpiece, I purchased the Vandoren Optimum ligature because it seemed to hold the reed on tight and I wanted to see how the three different pressure plates would affect my sound. Each pressure plate can make your sound a little bit brighter, darker, or a little bit edgier depending on how much air you push through the mouthpiece.

I found the Vandoren Optimum ligature to fit comfortably around my V16 mouthpiece and I saw no issues of the ligature bending from trying to fasten it on. Overall the V16 ligature keeps the reed where it needs to be and is very easy to adjust. I would recommend it to all saxophone players playing in any style. The ligature is priced between $60-$70 dollars with many different packages depending on whether you just buy the ligature with one pressure plate or the ligature without the cap.

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Francois Louis Ultimate ligature

Francois Louis Ultimate ligature.jpgThis ligature is very similar to the Vandoren Optimum in terms of the different sounds you can get, but instead of the varying sounds based on pressure plates, it’s the material which changes the sound. The ligature comes in three different materials: brass, silver, and gold.

According to Francois Louis, the brass ligature is supposed to open up your sound and resonate the most, the silver ligature offers a bit more resistance and will give you a darker sound, and finally the gold ligature is possesses a more polished and elegant sound. After trying the gold, silver, and brass ligature on my Otto Link hard rubber, I felt that the standard brass ligature was the best fit for me because it opened up my sound and allowed me to play with a brighter or darker tone. The Francois Louis ligature fits great on a metal Otto Link and V16 alto or tenor mouthpiece. I would recommend trying out the three different finishes to see which one fits you the best.

One small complaint is if the mouthpiece is on the larger end of the spectrum, the ligature is hard to adjust and could move when trying to do so. The Francois Louis ligature starts between $60 and increases based on the type of material you want (the silver and gold are both more expensive than the standard brass ligature.)

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Eddie Daniels Rovner ligature (now known as Rovner Versa)

Rovner Versa ligatureI recently bought the Eddie Daniels ligature for my Meyer 6 on alto saxophone because I wanted something that would open up my sound and allow me to produce a bright and edgy tone. Since I purchased this ligature, the model name has been changed to “Rovner Versa.” At any rate, I know many students use the standard Rovner ligature for classical or jazz playing, but the pressure plate that sits blow the reed on this ligature allows the reed to vibrate in a way that allows my sound to really cut through in a saxophone section.

This ligature is made out of the same black leather that goes into the standard Rovner ligature. The metal pressure plate can be switched out with other plates depending on what type of sound you are going after, but I would recommend the plate that comes with the ligature because it seemed to work best for me.

The Eddie Daniels/Versa ligature runs around $40+ dollars and comes with a black cap (with Eddie Daniels’ signature in my case). In comparison to other ligatures I have found this one to give me the brighter and edgier sound that helps me sound in the vein of modern straight-ahead alto players such as Antonio Hart or Vincent Herring.

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There has been much discussion as to whether a ligature has a major effect on your sound. After trying the Vandoren Optimum ligature, the Francois Louis ligature, and the Eddie Daniels Rovner ligature, I would say that the ligature can give the player a bit more freedom in terms of arriving at one’s desired tonal characteristics. I would recommend trying as many different types of ligatures as possible to see which one fits you best. All three of these ligatures are great because they are well built and can offer the saxophonist a wide variety of sounds.