Clarinet Ligatures

22nd June 2012

‘The Ligature for me – The Bois’

 Michaela Bell, Woodwind Teacher; Berkshire

Clarinet set up: Selmer 10S Bb clarinet, Zenith M1 mouthpiece, Bois Ligature, Vandoren 56 Rue Lepic reeds.

When looking for a new ligature for my Zenith M1 mouthpiece, I tried a variety of different brands, styles and materials but found that the Bois did exactly what I wanted from a ligature, and I haven’t looked back.

Not only is its design gloriously simple and straight forward, but I was attracted by the idea that there is minimal contact between the ligature and the reed, allowing for ‘optimum reed vibration’ (it does exactly what it says on the box!). In contrast to the Rovner Dark 1R ligature that I tested, I found the Bois to be very free blowing.

The Rovner helped to produce richness in tone that is comparable to the Bois, but unlike with the Rovner, the Bois was a breeze to produce a full, rich sound in all registers. The BG L4R Revelation ligature that I also tried produced a clear and bright tone. I found that the top register, including harmonics, were very easy to play and it copes extremely well with short and fast articulation. I was very impressed with the Revelation but I was personally looking for a darker, mellower sound.

I compared the Bois to a couple of metal ligatures – the Vandoren M/O ligature (silver plated) and a Next Generation Rovner Ligature (The Platinum). As I was expecting, the material made a huge difference to the sound. The Vandoren made the reed very responsive and versatile in all registers, especially the mid- and high- registers. For me, though, the tone was too bright. The Platinum, however, surprised me with a much more substantial and warmer sound than the Vandoren. It made playing low notes very easy with its high level of control and the range of dynamics that can be achieved are quite staggering. It’s another stunner to look at too, with rings of nickel plated steel holding the reed to the mouthpiece contrasting with the gold plated brass screw fitting. It looks, and feels, substantial and it definitely presents itself as great value for money!

I have to admit to being totally drawn by the Bois’ distinctive funky, minimalistic and sleek look. Even the cap, which resembles a top hat, is unlike any other reed cap on the market – soft, squidgy and with no chance of accidentally catching and damaging the reed or the mouthpiece.

From a practical point of view, the simplicity in the Bois’ design means that reed changes are quick and easy with very little adjustment needed. The ring just needs to be slotted, without force, over the reed and mouthpiece. Simples! I found that with other ligatures I tried, which required screw fitting, the tonal quality could fluctuate quite dramatically. I haven’t experienced this at all with the Bois and it’s very easy to make minor adjustments to tonal colours by tilting the ring at a slightly different angle. The non-slip rubber strip on the inside of the ring means that the ligature will not budge whilst it’s in use. Since using the Bois (I’ve had it for a year now), I have not had any issues with varying intonation between registers. When the Bois was new to me, I was surprised by how much the top register was able to sing and I instantly felt that the notes were stable and in tune.

The price cannot be beaten. It’s amazingly great value for money. It’s also a product which is likely to last a really long time. It’s advertised as being indestructible (it’s made from a material called Delrin, a rigid, strong and very hard wearing form of plastic), and it certainly feels that way. It’s a fantastic, great quality product and I just can’t fault it.