How to choose a ligature

How to choose a ligature

BG - the French company which produces a range of woodwind instrument accessories - has released a selection of tips on how to choose a ligature.  

Musicians frequently ask if the ligature really influences the sound of the instrument. Can a small piece of metal or fabric change the colour, the projection or the sound? The answer is yes!

The material (metal or fabric), its density, plating, the point of pressure on the reed and many other factors are all decisive when talking about the colour of the sound and its projection.

Metal ligatures
Metal ligatures are perfect for large concert halls and for soloists that need more sound. Gold plating provides a bigger response and a rounder sound.

Which metal ligature?
So you're a soloist looking for a ligature to help give you a bigger sound. At John Packer we list the silver plated L2 and gold lacquered L3 ligatures. (Look out for other metal alternatives from Vandoren). Silver will give a clear, bright sound, while gold will give a brilliant colourful sound.

201171 BG tradition Ligature L2Bg l91 tradition verguld rietbinder 1 1

Fabric ligatures
Fabric ligatures are recommended for small rooms or when looking for a more intimate sound. They are perfect for ensemble works.

Which fabric ligature?
Playing in a small room, or looking for an intimate sound? Support plates within a fabric ligature help to define the sound. At John Packer we stock the BG Standard L6 with a rubber plate. This rubber plate gives a dark sound. The BG L4R Revelation ligature features a brass plate which gives a clear sound. And finally the BG Super Revelation L4SR has a 24k gold plated plate which gives a compact sound

BG Clarinet Bb Ligature BGL6 Standard blackBG Clarinet Bb Ligature BGL4R Revelation blackSuper relevation 1 2 

Is one enough?

For a serious musician this answer is no! Today’s players need more than one ligature since they will need a different kind of ligature depending on their work or the situation they are in, whether the style is jazz or classical.

Every BG ligature provides a distinct sound for each situation and style of music. BG ligatures are hand-made in France and inspected three times to ensure optimal quality.

How to choose a ligature

  • Play music that you know well with your own ligature first to create your sound reference in the room where you are testing.
  • Under the same conditions, change only one parameter or component at a time and test the new ligature for smoothness in transition between registers, consistent volume and its sound quality in the lower, middle, and upper ranges.
  • At the same time, listen for the subtle differences when playing pianissimo and fortissimo passages.
  • Test how easily you can play staccato and articulate throughout the instrument.
  • It is always better to play test with another player who knows your regular sound and can assist you to appreciate how you feel while playing, what you hear when you play and finally what the audience hears.
  • And last but no least: try various ligature models because different types of ligatures meet different requirements.

Remember: “The best ligature is the one that fits you”

In this blog post we have linked to clarinet ligatures, but BG also make ligatures for harmony clarinets and Saxophones. View the complete range we stock here.

And lastly, don't forget we're just an email or a call away if you want advice, or would like to arrange a trial of ligatures!