I had the opportunity to review Marc Jean’s original ligatures , (see picture below) back in 2014 for alto and tenor saxophone. Although I have play tested many ligatures over the years for alto and tenor saxophone and tend to switch from time to time, I have stayed with the original Marc Jean ligature for alto because it works well on my Phil Tone “Meyer” mouthpiece.
Marc Jean Ligature (first model)
Following the introduction of his original model, Marc has released the second version, aka the “Woodstock version” (see photo below), which has a very thick piece of grenadilla wood as the plate and leverages one screw to loosen and tighten the ligature. Since the release of the Gen II model, Marc has just recently released his newest ligature which he is calling the Marc Jean Evolution 4. The Marc Jean Evolution 4 looks very similar to the Gen II, however, this ligature leverages German Hard Rubber on the reed plate instead of grenadilla wood.
Marc Jean Gen II Ligature
The new Evolution 4 ligature is compatible with over 225 saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces. The goal with this ligature was to not alter the sound characteristics of your mouthpiece, but a general aesthetic improvement in the sound.
With the Evolution 4, the harmonic plate is made of high quality German hard rubber. This harmonic plate is thinner and narrower compared to the Woodstock model (Marc Jean Gen II). The harmonic plate has a half moon like shape making it easy to tune and adjust without marking your mouthpiece. From Marc’s testing with his other model ligatures, the Evolution 4’s sound is more focused and by leveraging hard rubber, it speeds up the response of attacks while adding definition to the articulation.
Similar to the other ligatures, the contact lines of the HP are not parallel which results in an ease of response with every note in all registers, allowing even notes in the altissimo and lower registers, leading to enhanced ease of playing and articulating at pianissimo.
The Evolution 4 ligatures comes in a few different finishes. Marc has found that the finishes have some effect on the sound, but I understand this can be quite subjective. These finishes are:
- Satin Finished model: Raw brass that sonically leans towards the darker side, round with plenty of harmonics. $175 USD
- Satin & Silver-plated: Sounds brighter with some edge in comparison to the Satin finish. A thin layer of gold is plated underneath the silver. $230 USD
- Satin & 14k Gold plated: Most vibrant sound, round, warm, full of harmonics with a even richer tone compared to the satin finish and satin & silver -plated. $250 USD
A Cap is included with each ligature and all ligatures are engraved at no extra cost.
In addition, being based in the United States, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are no sales or import taxes applied from Canada (where the pieces are manufactured) to U.S..
In comparison to the Boston Sax Shop, Echobrass, Ishimori, and original Marc Jean ligature, I found the Evolution 4 did not brighten or darken my overall sound, but rather, enhanced the current timbres in the low, middle, high, and altissimo section of the horn.
I found when I pushed more air through my mouthpiece, the Evolution 4 did not dampen my sound. This is due to plate placement, which basically, constitutes the overall fit of the lig on the mouthpiece, which in turn, allows for a consistent vibration, making it easy to “lean in” with a more focused sound and project with a bit more edge.
Similar to the Marc Jean Gen II ligature, the Evolution 4 is very well made. The single screw design worked well when tightening and loosening the ligature, especially when adjusting the reed.
I felt the Evolution 4 fit my hard rubber link very well and was easy to adjust and lock in place without any movement. The same goes for removing the ligature without any sort of marks from potential over-tightening (aka user error).
The placement of the hard rubber plate was well machined without any blemishes, and was glad to see Marc had two screws to lock the hard rubber plate in place versus relying on glue to hold it in place.
Although it is just a visual touch, I appreciated the laser engraving with the vine and music note. I also liked how the ligature’s name, and more importantly in my opinion, the serial number, is displayed along the bottom of the ligature. Including the serial number in this way is very helpful if you have questions regarding your particular ligature with Marc.
Besides the sound I got by pairing my hard rubber link with the Marc jean Evolution 4 ligature, the response for me was the most noticeable difference. With the hard rubber plate, I noticed the response was quick but when articulating and playing at various dynamic levels I found the sound to be very clean and the articulation very clear. Playing my tenor from low Bb to high F# and into the altissimo range was very consistent and even, regardless of dynamic level. The Evolution 4 ligature just made the response feel more fluid throughout instead of each section of the horn playing slightly different.
I have played on quite a few ligatures and have a mix of my favorite ones that work well on a number of hard rubber tenor mouthpieces. The Marc Jean Evolution 4 has turned out to be my favorite model that Marc offers today. I simply found the ease of use, articulation, response, and construction to be of high quality, all making for a ligature that will really last you a very long time.
What’s nice about Marc’s ligatures is he really tries to fit them to the mouthpiece you play today, so the ligature really fits well when you need to adjust it and doesn’t move when you need to adjust your mouthpiece on the neck cork.
Now for between $175-$250, depending on finish, I understand this ligature may not be the starting point for everyone. What I will say is if you are looking for a solidly constructed brass ligature that is highly likely to work for your particular mouthpiece and leverages hard rubber for the plate versus metal or other materials, than this would be the ligature I’d recommend you check out.
Again, I would like to thank Marc for sending me the Marc Jean Evolution 4 ligature to further test play. For those of you who play on one of Marc’s previous ligature models, I think you will be impressed with this new model. For those of you who are trying it for your first time, I believe you, too, will be very happy with your decision.
To learn more about Marc Jean’s products, head over to to his website