Does a really good alto ligature actually make a difference? This is a question we get a lot, have heard many times and we believe it’s finally time to give all you saxophonists out there the truth whether or not it has an effect on one’s sound. Here’s the deal, there are two main objectives with a ligature.
The first objective is to simply hold the reed on the mouthpiece. The second objective is to make the reed vibrate in a way that provides you the opportunity to best express yourself through playing your alto.
Experienced saxophonists will be the first ones to tell you that the ligature will help your alto sax performance by keeping the alto mouthpiece and reed in its place, but can a good ligature give you an advantage?
Through trial, error and experience, we review five ligatures for the alto saxophone that we believe will give players a little something extra they’ve been looking for in their sound.
Find the Best Alto Sax Ligature - Our Top 5
The Vandoren LC27LP creates a warm, round sound that gets the reed vibrating almost perfectly. It is genuine leather, which is nice on the hands and gives the player quick and precise tightening.
Curious to see how the three different pressure plates will affect your sound? If yes, then you may want to purchase this one. Each pressure plate gives you the option of making your sound a little brighter (more powerful), darker, or a little edgier.
It’s designed to customize your playing and may give you the extra edge you’re looking for. It is (in our opinion), without a doubt the best ligature for your alto saxophone to go with vandoren v16 mouthpiece. It’s affordable, yet on the high end, which makes this product very special.
A great option if you use a Meyer, Selmer, Yamaha, JodyJazz, or a D’Addario mouthpiece. Rovner designed their ligatures to hold the reed to the mouthpiece without pressure points. Since there are no pressure points, the reed sits evenly on the mouthpiece, which reduces thickness, thus providing clear tone.
Our take on the Rover C1RL MK III is that it is super affordable, holds the reed in place and provides a great vibration.
There are so many players out there that get a cheap mouthpiece and ligature, then regret making that choice. The reason behind that is going cheap often makes it difficult to play the notes you truly want to play on your alto sax. Case in point, invest in quality and go with reputable brands.
If budget isn’t an issue, we say go with the BG L11BG. In addition to budget not being a factor, if you are looking for the best jazz alto sax ligature, this one is it. The control that players get is literally unbelievable.
This ligature will always stay on the mouthpiece when taking it on or off. In addition to that, you will get great vibration and crystal clear sound.
What we don’t like about the BG L11BG, is that it doesn’t fit on rubber mouthpieces and doesn’t fit on Meyer mouthpieces. So, if you have either of those, you’ll need to find something different.
The Francois Louis Pure Brass is very similar to the Vandoren LC 27P when it comes to the sounds you can play. For your future reference, material has a really big bearing effect on the sound. In this case, it comes in three different materials: bass, silver and gold.
These materials are designed for different sounds. For example, the brass ligature opens up your sound, the silver is more resistant and you will need to blow harder and the gold ligature gives you more of an elegant sound.
If you play jazz music, the brass is a phenomenal choice because it will allow you to open up your sound and play brighter and darker tones. It’s always a good idea to try out all three, just to see which one fits you best.
We already reviewed another Vandoren, and since they are one of the top brands for ligatures, we decided to review the LC07P. If you use a vandoren V16 mouthpiece, this is a great option for you.
The one thing that so many alto saxophone players keep saying about this ligature is that it holds the reed super tight to the mouthpiece.
What is the best ligature for alto sax?
The answer is it depends. It can be one of many ligatures that are out there. At the end of the day, a good ligature keeps the reed on the mouthpiece and doesn't let it slip away. It should also provide good vibration so you can play any music and hit any note.
You will have to test some of these out on your own so you can see which ones do those two things the best. Yes, there are some ligatures out there that have some extra features. However, go see for yourself and do some trial and error.
The only other brand that we didn't mention, but deserves "Honorable Mention" is JodyJazz. They create wonderful mouthpieces and they have ligatures to go with them. They have the Silver Power Ring and the Gold Power Ring ligatures. Excellent products, for sure.
We believe that a ligature can give a player an added bonus of playing a wide variety of sounds. The top five listed above are definitely the best options out there, in our opinion. Still, we encourage you to go to your local music store, or purchase a few online and test them out yourself. Trial and error is key for picking up new equipment and accessories. Good luck and we hope you find a ligature that fits your alto saxophone playing style.