Putting Rovner Next Generation Ligatures to the Test and Picking Winners

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Photo via bill-lewington.com

Since playing in concert band and jazz band throughout middle school, high school, and college, I have always seen many musicians using Rovner ligatures on both saxophone and clarinet. In one of my first reviews, I reviewed a group of ligatures which included the Rovner Eddie Daniels Edition ligature (which I currently use on alto). What I did not know was Rovner had an extensive lineup of ligatures of different styles – each having its own unique attributes. George Reeder over at Rovner sent me the Versa X, the Platinum, and the Van Gogh to test play on tenor and alto saxophone.

Versa X

Tenor

Rovner Versa-X Ligature
Rovner Versa-X Ligature

I found the Versa X enhanced the overall timbre of the horn. This ligature was very easy to put on and take off, but I recommend reviewing the spec sheets on the website to figure out which size would best fit your mouthpiece. The Versa X gave me a similar sound to my François Louis ligature, but I enjoyed changing the flaps back and forth for optimal effect.

On tenor, I found the open flaps worked best for me because with my hard rubber Link, the sound is generally a round, dark sound, and this ligature brightened the overall sound a bit, which gave the upper register more presence.

Alto

Since I have been playing on the Eddie Daniels Edition ligature, George told me that most players who enjoyed playing on the Eddie Daniels went to the Versa X. What I found most interesting about the Versa X is the adjustable flap as well as the metal cradle-like plates. According to Rovner, this ligature will give you a darker, richer, more focused sound.

In comparison to my Eddie Daniels Edition ligature, I found that the Versa X possessed a bigger and more focused sound. I felt it was a very versatile ligature that was easy to control from very soft to very loud. It was also easy to adjust and lined up evenly with my reed. The Versa X is described as one of the darkest ligatures offered by Rovner, but from comparing the Versa X to the Platinum and the Van Gogh, I would say the Versa X had a very edgy and focused sound that would work great if you were a lead alto player or really wanted to stand out in a saxophone quartet.

With regards to having the flaps cover the metal cradle plates, I preferred the flaps covering. Although the flaps seemed to diminish the amount of edge and projection, I gained a warmer and more round sound which worked great with my Super Balanced Action alto, which already has a brighter, edgier sound.

Overall thoughts

I enjoyed this ligature for alto and tenor but preferred the Versa X on alto. I felt this ligature was like my Eddie Daniels Edition but with an overall enhancement in projection, edge, and a more focused sound.

I have included the link to a spec sheet from Rovner’s website detailing the benefits as well as a recommendation for who this ligature would appeal to:
http://www.rovnerproducts.com/versa-x-ligature

Van Gogh

Tenor

Rovner Van Gogh Ligature
Rovner Van Gogh Ligature

Unlike the Versa X, which had many different enhancements to the sound, the Van Gogh does one thing and does it very well – it allows the reed to vibrate the most and gives an incredibly big, spread sound. I found the Van Gogh on tenor did not offer me a more focus or an added edge to my sound, but I did notice the overall volume was by far louder than the Versa X and Platinum ligatures. What is surprising about this ligature is it makes very little contact with the reed, and is one of the biggest ligatures I have ever seen. It fit on the mouthpiece snugly and was fairly easy to adjust.

Alto

I found the same characteristics on tenor as I did on alto saxophone. The Van Gogh fit well on my hard rubber Meyer mouthpiece and was easy to adjust. I found this ligature to be very neutral and not lean towards the brighter or darker side, which allowed me to shape the sound towards my preference.

Overall Thoughts

The Van Gogh ligature offered the most volume compared to the Platinum and Versa X. Since the Van Gogh has minimal contact on the reed and does not pinch the reed (allowing for more vibration), this ligature would work well for any classical or jazz saxophonist looking to produce a bigger overall sound.

I have included the link to a spec sheet from Rovner’s website detailing the benefits as well as a recommendation for who this ligature would appeal to: http://www.rovnerproducts.com/vangogh-ligature

Platinum

Tenor

Rovner Platinum Ligature
Rovner Platinum Ligature

The Rovner Platinum ligature slid right onto my hard rubber Link mouthpiece smoothly and was easy to adjust without shifting the reed. I found the Platinum ligature to resonate similar to my François Louis which produced a vibrant ringing sound that really enhanced the timbre of each note, and I believe, gave me a focused and direct sound as opposed to a loud and spread sound. The low register had a solid vibrant sound which was very easy to control, and on top of that, the upper register was easy to play in tune.

Alto

When I tried the Rovner Platinum on my Meyer, I had some difficulty getting it to lie properly on the reed. What I decided to do was try out this ligature on my Marmaduke hard rubber mouthpiece which fit well but had to open the ligature up as far as it could go to sit it on the mouthpiece. I would say this ligature allowed the reed to vibrate more which I felt gave me a focused sound similar to the tenor. This ligature seems to lean towards the darker side in the upper and lower extremes of the horn.

Overall Thoughts

Although Rovner says this ligature has gained a lot of attention from classical players, I would say this ligature would fit well with jazz players as well – especially those who want a punchier sound that will give a hard rubber mouthpiece a bit more edge.

I have included the link to a spec sheet from Rovner’s website detailing the benefits as well as a recommendation for whom this ligature would appeal to: http://www.rovnerproducts.com/platinum-ligature

Final Thoughts

The Rovner line of ligatures is one of the most popular ligatures used in both classical and jazz settings. Between the three ligatures, I liked the Versa X on alto and the Rovner Platinum on Tenor. I would recommend trying all three to see which one you like and make sure you have the right size ligature for your mouthpiece.

I understand there has been a discussion on whether the ligature makes a difference or not. What I can say, for the most part, is when looking for the right ligature, you want one that fits snugly on the mouthpiece, is easy to adjust, and does not constrain the reed, allowing it to vibrate freely.

I believe Rovner has accomplished these goals with their line of ligatures, and to quote George Reeder –  “a ligature is no small thing.”

Main Website
https://www.Rovnerproducts.com

If you have any experience playing on Rovner ligatures, please leave a comment and share your thoughts!