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How Do I Choose the Best Clarinet Ligature?

A clarinet's ligature affects how the reed vibrates.
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  • Written By: Emily Espinoza
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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To choose the best clarinet ligature, consider the type of clarinet you have, the sound you want your clarinet to have, cost, and durability. Clarinets come in different sizes and are made of different materials, both of which can affect which ligature works best. Different types of ligatures affect the sound of the clarinet in different ways, so match the ligature to the music you are playing. Clarinet ligatures are available at different prices and have varying levels of durability. Know how much you are comfortable paying and what you expect to get out of your ligature before you make your final selection.

Your clarinet may be bass, alto, contra bass, contra alto, or something else. The type of clarinet will affect which clarinet ligature you should choose. Some ligatures come in slightly different sizes and shapes and are meant for a specific type of clarinet. There are ligatures that work best with clarinets constructed out of certain materials, so look for a ligature that is meant to work with the material of which your clarinet is made.

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A clarinet ligature has an affect on the sound that the instrument produces because it controls how the reed is able to move. Think about what type of music you intend to play and where you plan on playing it to ensure that you get a ligature that will produce the right kind of sound. Metal ligatures produce a richer, fuller sound and are best for use in large concert halls or for soloists. A fabric ligature will result in a softer sound that works well for smaller venues or group performances. You might even find it necessary to have more than one ligature so that you can produce the right kind of sound for any occasion.

Another factor that can affect the sound made with a clarinet ligature is whether it is inverted or standard. A standard ligature has screws that point towards the musician, and an inverted version has screws that point away. The choice between the two is largely one of personal preference, although some clarinetists believe that an inverted model allows the reed to blow more freely.

The material used for a clarinet ligature can be as simple and cheap as electrical tape or as fine and expensive as gold. Some clarinetists are perfectly happy using a simple piece of string or leather, while some would rather have the newest no-screws design. Think about how durable you need the ligature to be, how many you want to have, and how long you plan to use it to help you decide what price is right for you.

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