Clarinet ligatures

Clarinet ligatures

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A ligature, also known as a “razor” is an essential element when playing the clarinet. It is used to attach the reed to the mouthpiece and keep it in a steady position. While playing a single-reed instrument, gently press the reed in the right place with the lower jaw. The razor holds it in a similar way, except at the bottom of the mouthpiece. The difference in the material the ligature is made of causes that the sound of the clarinet may differ in the purity and fullness of the sound. The musicians also pay attention to the amount of material that was used to make the razor, because the freedom to vibrate the reeds depends on it. That is why manufacturers reach for various materials for making ligatures, such as metal, leather, plastic or braided string. Often it is the razor that determines the precision of articulation as well as the “response time” of the reed.

Firms producing ligatures are unlikely to divide their products into those suitable for beginners and professionals. It often happens that a beginner clarinet player is able to play the same machine for several years. Only when he gains experience and looks for his “own” tone, in line with the imagination and musical aesthetics, can he start looking for a suitable machine. However, it should be remembered that all elements, i.e. reed, mouthpiece and ligature should work together.

The leading companies in the production of ligatures are Vandoren, Rovner and BG. All three manufacturers offer machines made with great care, of various materials, tested and signed by great musicians.

Clarinet by Jean Baptiste, source:


M / O – one of the newest machines from Vandoren. It combines the light construction of the legendary Masters ligature with the ease of producing the sound of the Optimum clipper. The machine is very easy to put on and thanks to the double-track screw mechanism, you can optimally tighten the reed with it, obtaining the right vibration of the reed. This allows you to play with precise articulation and a light sound.

OPTIMUM – probably the most popular Vandoren ligature, available at a very affordable price. The machine offers the lightness of producing a full and expressive sound. It is made of metal and has three replaceable inserts for optimal compression. The first one (smooth) offers a rich sound and a certain articulation. The pressure created between it and the reeds gives lightness to the sound and bringing out the tone. The second cartridge (with two longitudinal protrusions) makes it possible to produce a more focused sound with a compact sonority. The third insert (four circular grooves) causes the reed to vibrate freely. The sound becomes louder, flexible and easier to speak.

LEATHER – is a hand-made leather machine. It also has three replaceable pressure inserts. It offers a rich, full sound and is very convenient to use.

KLASSIK – it is a ligature made of braided string. It is characterized by a perfect fit to the mouthpiece and a very comfortable binding. Recently, a very popular binding, because the material it is made of does not absorb the reed, it allows it to vibrate freely, offering a rich, precise, balanced sound. The cap for this ligature is made of leather.

Vandoren Optimum, source:


Rovner ligatures are now considered to be one of the most professional. They are very well available in Poland for a relatively low price. There are several ligature models, four classic (basic) and 5 ligatures from the Next Generation series.

Here are the most popular of them. Klassik series:

MK III – a ligature that offers a warm and full sound, perfectly balanced both in the lower and upper register. The full sound obtained with this machine can be used for jazz as well as symphonic music. MKIII was produced due to the appeal of the directors of symphony orchestras, who were looking for a more resonant volume from the woodwind section.

VERSA – this is the most famous product of the Rovner brand, recommended by Eddie Daniels himself. Most of all, this machine offers a large, full sound and excellent control over the intonation in each register. Specially matched inserts allow the application of reeds and irregular shapes. Their combination allows you to choose from about 5 different tones. Musicians who perform classical music and jazz appreciate the possibility of “personalizing” the sound of the clarinet. A great choice for musicians looking for the right sound quality.

From the Next Generation series, the most famous and popular ligatures are the Legacy, Versa-X and Van Gogh models.

LEGACY – a ligature that helps to maintain a stable tone and intonation when playing with high dynamics. It facilitates the emission and conducting of a stable sound.

VERSA-X – offers a dark and concentrated tone. It allows the clarinet player to lead a nice sound in all dynamics. Variable cartridges enable optimal adjustment of the sound to the acoustics and the conditions in which the musician has to find himself.

VAN GOGH – this is the latest offer from Rovner. Offers a large, full-bodied sound that is easy to control. It is constructed in such a way that the material surrounds the entire reed foot, so the entire reed vibrates in the same way. The ligature is recommended above all to professional musicians who want a quick response of a sensitive reed thanks to this machine to even the smallest differences in articulation.

Clarinet ligatures

Rovner LG-1R, source:

BG France

Another company that produces very popular and easily available ligatures is the French company BG. A brand with many years of experience presents a very high quality of accessories at a very affordable price. Their products are also made of various materials, but the most famous are leather machines.

STANDARD – leather ligature, very comfortable to put on and tighten. The ease of extracting the sound and its light sound make it very good for beginner musicians. The manufacturer especially recommends this machine for chamber and ensembles music.

REVELATION – a device that facilitates contact with the instrument. Offers easy sound extraction and good staccato.

SUPER REVELATION – a machine recommended especially for solo games. The perfect resonance is caused by the insert made of 24-carat gold with which the reed works great. Clear, round sound.

TRADITIONAL SILVER PLATED – a machine made of metal, perfectly suited for orchestral musicians. The sound is big and carrying, without losing color values.

TRADITIONAL GOLD PLATED – rich sound and excellent emission. Ligaturka recommended for orchestral musicians and soloists.


There are many ligatures on the market of instruments and accessories. These are (apart from those mentioned) such brands as: Bonade, Rico, Gardinelli, Bois, Silverstein Works, Bay and others. Virtually every company producing accessories can boast a series of ligatures. However, as with mouthpieces, a person who wants to learn to play the clarinet should start with a basic machine such as Vandoren or BG. It is not worth focusing on the selection of accessories at a time when the student is not able to properly blow on the instrument. Only when he has the ability to breathe properly and maintain a steady sound can he begin to search the world of clarinet accessories. Remember that, as with mouthpieces, do not trust the razors that come with your newly purchased instrument. Most often, when buying a clarinet, we buy a mouthpiece with a ligature, because the included mouthpieces serve rather as a “plug” to the set. These are mouthpieces that do not have any sonic qualities or comfortable playing.

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