A Simple, Yet Bold New Approach To Saxophone Ligatures
While at the 2014 NAMM show, I ran into mouthpiece maker Ted Klum and professional saxophonist Eddie Rich, who were test playing different types of saxophones, reeds, and ligatures. While I was talking to both of them, I noticed that on all of their mouthpieces they were using a ligature that I had not seen before and I personally thought it was an old stock ligature by Selmer or Otto Link. While talking to Eddie and Ted, they told me they were actually playing on a Marc Jean ligature. After hearing great things from Ted and Eddie, I thought I would do my research and see what I could find out on the Marc Jean Ligatures.
While searching on the web, I found a review by Steve Neff, who has written many mouthpiece reviews (in addition to writing various books and videos dedicated to learning jazz on the saxophone). Steve, Eddie, and Ted all had great things to say about these ligatures and I knew I needed to contact Marc Jean and see if he would send me some to try.
Marc Jean was nice enough to send me an un-lacquered ligature for both alto and tenor saxophone. I found out while speaking with Marc Jean that there are 57 different models offered in 4 different finishes, and all of his products are made by hand – which is why it took a few weeks for me to get my hands on one.
Marc told me that his ligatures are handmade in his workshop near Montreal, Quebec, and his ligature is comprised of top quality brass with the screws and nuts coming directly from France. I found the alto and tenor Marc Jean ligatures to be well constructed in terms of adjusting the ligature on both of my mouthpieces. And I was pleased to see that when I applied pressure to both sides, the ligature did not bend. One feature I noticed on this ligature was the two wooden sticks that would lay against the reed. It was also interesting to see how Marc Jean has two strips of cork at the top of the ligature, which means easy adjustment as well as the prevention of scratching while adjusting your mouthpiece.
I understand a lot of guys do not believe the ligature makes that much of an impact or if any at all in regards to the sound. From my experience, I have test played such ligatures as Ishimori, Vandoren, Francois Louis, Roberto’s Winds, Rovner, Rico, and Forestone. Although the ligature will not make a dull reed play amazing, and it, alone won’t make you sound like Michael Brecker, Lenny Pickett, or David Sanborn, I found certain ligatures gave me a bit more edge, focus, warmth, and resonance than I’ve ever gotten from a stock ligature that comes with any mouthpiece.
I definitely found the Marc Jean ligature gave me a more centered tone, the response was quicker, and I found that some reeds responded a bit better possibly due to the wooden sticks the reed was resting on.
The Marc Jean ligature is definitely one of the best ligatures I have play tested thus far. I believe Marc has been listening to players and he really takes his time when constructing each ligature to make sure it offers warmth, edge, and focus in your sound. He also makes sure that his ligature fits your mouthpiece snuggly, is easy to adjust, and will hold up for years.
For more information:
Marc Jean Website
Steve Neff Review
Gary in San Diego
June 5, 2014 @ 11:28 am
A year or so ago I purchased a Marc Jean ligature that was custom made to fit a Drake Son-of-Slant tenor mouthpiece. The Drake mouthpiece was supplied with a one piece force fit type ligature that didn’t work well with certain reeds. The Marc Jean fit the Son-of-Slant beautifully and makes it easy to vary reed positions. Although I perceive a difference in sound of the Marc Jean vs. other ligatures when I am playing, I don’t hear a difference in home recordings. I also played various ligatures for other musicians and they did not hear a difference. In my experienced a player’s perception of ligature differences could be do to the player physically feeling vibrations of the skeletal system of the head being transmitted to the ear drum.
June 5, 2014 @ 11:40 am
Thanks for the feedback. For me the Marc Jean is very easy to adjust, well-constructed, and I like how the Marc-Jean Ligature works with my hard rubber slant link.
April 29, 2015 @ 9:06 am
Have you used the Winslow lig? It is the best by far! Johnny Ferreria Has been using for 20 years. I have 2 of them. One for my Otto Link NY and for my Otto Link HR. Oh, Big Jay uses them also. The is a copy brand, saxxas.eu Check them out here. John Winslow does not do computer. Off to practice. Tim
April 29, 2015 @ 9:45 am
I have heard of the Winslow lig and actually tried one when I was younger and had no clue what it was. I should have bought it. They are great ligs. I will try and get my hands on a copy.
Thanks for the info Tim. I need to go practice as well.
January 24, 2016 @ 10:30 am
This is a part of a publicity letter but it explain why and how the Marc Jean Ligatures are so efficients.
Have you ever wonder why the oboe is the selected instrument to give the ¨tuning A¨ at the Symphony Orchestra?
The double reed instruments are providing more harmonics in their sound than any other single reed instruments, making it easier to fine tune for all musicians.
For the same reason, most of the very best mouthpiece makers are using the Marc Jean Ligatures.
With their two wood sticks supporting the reed, the Marc Jean Ligatures are the only Ligatures designed with this concept in mind and they do deliver more harmonics than any others.
The positioning of wooden sticks to support the reed allows it to vibrate in perfect symbiosis throughout its length, providing stunning tone.
The conception of The Marc Jean Ligature creates a significant amplification of the undulatory movement, bringing out the qualities of the instruments and its mouthpiece, resulting in
• A quicker, even immediate response;
• A more open, wider and stronger sound
• A deeper and very centered tone; with more stable notes all along the scales;
• Easier attacks, precised staccatos and accents.
• A general improvement of your playing.
Your instrument and mouthpiece sound qualities are therefore amplified. You will notice added volume, greater presence, and a rounder and greater depth of sound.
While tuning, the ligature also remains stable on the mouthpiece and many states that the reeds performs better.