I’m not an equipment junkie, but I like to experiment with ligatures. My favorites are the Vandoren Leather (sometimes without an insert and sometimes with the black leather insert) or the Vandoren Optimum ligature. I’ve never understood why Vandoren only makes a silver plated Optimum ligature for clarinet. On a whim I called my favorite store, Saxquest, and asked Jon to see if the alto saxophone gold Optimum ligature fits a Bb M13Lyre mouthpiece. It does!
Hint: I do add a mouthpiece patch on the back of the mouthpiece, which gives me a bit of wiggle room for adjusting the firmness of the ligature.
The results have been pleasing to my ears and to those of Scott Andrews and Tzuying Huang, with whom I had the pleasure of playing with this past weekend on Symphony No. 4 by Mahler. I found the sound warmer and deeper with the gold Optimum. As I was playing 2nd clarinet (it has Eb clarinet in the second part), it was important to me that I could blend well with Scott. Success! Pitch was also very stable.
For all fellow clarinerds, next experiments will include:
- using a gold plate on the silver Optimum and vise versa
- adding cork to one of the plates (something that always helped my old reverse Bonade ligatures, at the suggestion of my teacher, Stanley Hasty)
Stay tuned for more geeky fun.