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Saxophone Ligatures…

9th December 2010

What A Difference A Lig Makes……….!

Now and then in life, you get one of those ‘Eureka’ moments. Occasionally you might discover one of the fundamental laws of the universe, other times may be a little more prosaic, but nevertheless, eventful in their own way. Let me tell about my recent experience.

I play a Yamaha YTS 62 tenor sax with a Vintage Otto Link metal mouthpiece complete with the Otto Link lig that comes with the mouthpiece, and a Vandoren ZZ strength 2 ½ reed. It’s great sound, very warm and mellow with a slight buzz to it. My problem was with the lower notes, the C sharp and the B. I’ve been trying to play ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You’, the jazz standard made popular by trombonist Tommy Dorsey and his band. It’s not a difficult piece but it does require going from an F or A in the middle register down to a low C and B. I was finding that once I got down to D I started to warble, and had to attack the C and the B, instead of letting them drift out in a gentle, subtle way.

What was confusing me was that I didn’t have any problem using the same mouthpiece, lig and reed set-up on a different sax. I tried the Yanagisawa T901, Cannonball T5 Mad Meg, Yamaha 82Z Jazz, Jupiter Artist 989GL, Selmer SA 80 and the Buffet 8402, and all were easier to blow the low notes than my YTS 62. I even had one of instrument repairers here at Dawkes Music check over the my instrument to see if any of the pads were seating incorrectly and allowing air to leak, a very common reason for problems with the lower notes, but all was fine, and they concluded the problem must be with my embouchure.

I was inclined to accept their explanation as I was able to get the low notes if I lowered my jaw and thought about it before I went for the note. Not long afterwards I was reading a review of various mouthpieces and found that the sax player in question was using a BG Revelation Jazz ligature on the metal Otto Link mouthpiece he was testing. We keep a very wide range of ligatures at Dawkes Music and I was able to find in stock the very same ligature, specially designed for use withthe metal Otto Link tenor mouthpiece. I gave it a test blow, and wow ! – it lived up to it’s name, it was a revelation! Suddenly all the notes sounded clearer and smoother and the problem with the lower register notes was gone !

I’d always known that the ligature affects the ability of the reed to vibrate and I’d been using a Rovner MK111 fabric lig on my Windcraft alto sax mouthpiece for a long time, but I’d allowed myself to believe that as the Otto Link comes complete with it’s own specially designed lig, I didn’t need to change it. How wrong I was !

I can now add my name to the list of great jazz vocalists and horn players who have made their own distinct version of ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You’ – Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz, Jack Sheldon, Zoot Sims, and now me ……….if only !

Roger – Sales Dept : 9/12/10