A clarinet ligature might be a small component, but it significantly affects how you sound. And, choosing the wrong one can lead to a rather unpleasant sound. To save you from purchasing the wrong clarinet ligature, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 7 best options, including a budget-friendly option.
What Is a Clarinet Ligature?
A small but vital part of the clarinet, attaching the reed to the clarinet mouthpiece. The flat butt of the reed is pressed against the flat underside of the mouthpiece – sometimes known as the table – allowing the reed’s tip to vibrate, thus producing a sound.
What to Look For in the Best Clarinet Ligatures
There are a few things you need to consider before buying a clarinet ligature. You should know what type of clarinet you have and do you prefer inverted or standard ligature. Remember, choosing a ligature is a process; you may need to experiment with different brands before finding the one that works for you.
You have to consider the kind of sound you want to produce and if the ligature is compatible with your instrument. For example, if you are shopping for an E-flat clarinet, you will buy a smaller ligature than the b-flat. Also, most clarinetists will match their ligature to the type of music they play.
Inverted vs. Standard
You should also think about whether you want to buy a standard or inverted ligature. The latter has screws at the front side of the mouthpiece and will be pointing away from you. On the other hand, a standard ligature has screws that point towards the musician. Deciding which one to choose, depends on personal preference. Many opt for an inverted clarinet ligature because it allows the reed to vibrate more freely. Moreover, the pressure from the screws is not applied directly against the reed.
Type of Ligature
There are different types of clarinet ligatures with slightly different designs. They are also made from different materials like metal or plastic. It’s essential to choose a flexible ligature that can allow you to play a variety of settings. If you are a solo performer, flexibility is even more critical. Keep in mind that the material affects the durability and the price of the ligature. Always buy a piece that will serve you for a long time but should also be within your budget.
What Are The Best Clarinet Ligatures?
Now that you know the main things to consider when buying ligatures, these are the top four picks. They are from different brands and may have differences in performance and design.
1. Vandoren lc01p Optimum Ligature and Plastic Cap – Best Clarinet Ligature
Whether you are playing jazz or classical, this Vandorn ligature for clarinet is overall our best choice. It accommodates different playing styles thanks to its three interchangeable pressure plates, which make sound adjustment convenient and fast.
This is also an excellent choice if you are looking for a flexible and beautiful metal design ligature. Durability is not a concern because it has a rock-solid construction.
At first, tightening this clarinet ligature can be a little tricky, but the double-track screw mechanism on this ligature makes tightening a breeze. It also allows the reed to vibrate freely while still holding it firm on your mouthpiece. Extra bonus? You’ll also get a plastic vented cap that ensures the reed is dry.
2. Silverstein Works Hexa Ligature – Best Premium Clarinet Ligature
This Silverstein clarinet ligature increases the resistance of reed vibration, allowing precise tonal control with some powerful projections. Moreover, there is less stress imparted on the reed for more free vibrancy. And the best part? This premium ligature is resizable.
The caveat is it’s a pretty big investment, especially if you are just starting out or finding the best clarinet ligature. But, with exceptional features like six cords and ultimate tonal control, you can never go wrong with this purchase.
3. Rovner Dark 1r BB Clarinet Ligature and Cap – Best Clarinet Ligature for the Money
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a clarinet ligature, this clarinet ligature from Rovner is right up in your alley.
A leather ligature, this Rovner model eliminates issues often associated with traditional metal ligatures. It’s also an excellent choice for glass, hard rubber, and plastic mouthpieces. Plus, it ensures your reed is securely in place on the mouthpiece without pressure points.
However, you should know that it mostly favors classical performers because of the warm sound. And, its leather material is synthetic.
4. Rovner 3rl Bass Clarinet Ligature – Best Bass Ligature
Another Rovner clarinet ligature on our list is the 3rl model, which we’ve crowned as the best bass ligature for clarinets.
It boasts a T-process polymer impregnation that allows the reed to vibrate better than conventional metal ligatures. What does that mean for you? Improved tone and response. And, just like its 1r brother, the 3rl bass clarinet ligature from Rovner is budget-friendly.
Seasoned artists will appreciate the ease of use and how it helps if producing full, centered tones. It will be an upgrade from your standard ligature. It’s light, has an excellent fit, and has better reed clamping. Tonal clarity is not easy to achieve, but with the right bass ligature, it’s possible.
Other Clarinet Ligatures Worth Checking Out
Since the ligature you purchase will impact your sound, it’s probably a good idea to have a lot of options to pick from. These three ligatures are also worth considering.
5. D’ Addario Woodwinds H-Ligature & Cap
This H-ligature from the famous brand uses a four-point system that ensures equal pressure on the reed. The ligature is more like the classic design; it’s silver or gold plated and includes two inverted-design screws and a cap. It’s inexpensive with great sound quality. It can be your backup ligature if you don’t have one.
6. Ishimori Wood Stone Bb Ligature
Ishimori clarinet ligature is another expensive ligature you should consider getting. However, it is a worthy investment since it doesn’t add extraneous sound color. Most importantly, it stabilizes your tone and every note pops out. The downside, aside from the price, is it’s hard to find one in your local music store.
7. Bonade 2250u Clarinet Ligature
This Bb Bonade ligature allows the free vibrancy of the reed, which gives the best control of tones. And, if you’ve been playing instruments long enough and feel like you are at the same level as professionals, you can upgrade to this ligature. Installation is easy, and the screws are very tight. It holds the reed in place, but the tightness can also constrain the tones.
These seven ligatures are unparalleled in producing war, colorful, dark, and clear sounds. But the right ligature should be compatible with your mouthpiece. It should also have quality material, and it will be even better if it has a beautiful design.