So you need a new ligature for your clarinet but are overwhelmed by all the choices online. Don’t worry, we’ve got everything you need to know here so you don’t have to waste time scouring the internet trying to find out which ligature is for you.
A clarinet ligature is the small metal fixture that is placed on the mouthpiece of the instrument to attach the reed onto the mouthpiece. Every clarinetist needs a ligature in order to play so it’s important to find a ligature that can fit your clarinet currently to assist in your playing.
Whether you are purchasing a ligature to replace a broken or missing one or whether you are wanting a replacement in case of emergencies, there are ligatures to suit every requirement.
If you have a specific brand in mind or want to stay within a certain budget, there are ligatures on the market from big and small brands so by the end of this article, you will be able to make an informed decision on which ligature to go for.
In this article, we’ll be bringing you the best 5 clarinet ligatures on the market followed by a buyers guide filled with useful information and an FAQ answering those commonly asked questions that you need to know the answers to.
Too busy to read the rest of the article? Here’s our top recommendation:
Rovner Dark 1R Bb Clarinet Ligature and Cap
Our top recommendation is the Rovner Dark 1R ligature. With a fully centred fixture to assist in creating a rounded sound, the 1R comes with a cap to ensure that the mouthpiece is further protected.
No pressure points means that the ligature fixes the reed in place without movement or breakage. It assists in creating warmer sounds which is particularly suited for classical music.
What makes this our winner? It is the top selling ligature on the market at the moment because of its reliability and the convenience of coming with a protective cap.
Made from nickel, the ligature is made from high quality materials and manufactured to last a long time.
OUR TOP PICK
The Rovner Dark 1R is the easy leader on the ligature market thanks to its high quality manufacture and design, making it sturdy and reliable for clarinetists of all abilities.
The protective cap that comes with it makes the ligature and mouthpiece more durable and secure.
The centred fixtures mean that you will have a more rounded and warmer tone which works well for those wanting to advance their skills but their performance is hindered by a ligature that won’t fit properly.
With a staggering 4.8 star average from over 500 reviews, a lot of praise comes from the easiness to use the ligature and fit the reed in.
It does need a bit of oiling before being used but this shouldn’t take too much time. Once oiled up, the ligature is ready to go and you should notice the difference in sound.
Recommended by professionals and students, the variety of clarinetists using the Rovner Dark 1R is vast and the quality it provides has ensured that it is at the top of the market.
- Great for players of all abilities
- Made from quality materials
- Centered fixtures to provide a rounded sound
- Does need to be oiled before use
Our next pick comes from student favorite Selmer, a brand that specializes in creating products for students and other educational facilities.
The Selmer 1719 is made from high quality nickel, ensuring durability and long lasting quality that will help to enhance the clarity of sound.
This lightweight ligature is able to last years with regular use and can fit the majority of clarinets with no problem.
A lot of users do fall into the trap of tightening the screws a little too much so be wary when fixing it to your clarinet by practicing the sound as you go and you should be fine.
With an average of 4.7 stars from over 300 reviews with most praising the quality you get for an amazing price. It comes with a 5 year warranty so if it should be damaged within that time frame, you can easily request a new one with no problem.
Hugely convenient and meant to withstand easy and difficult pieces, the Selmer 1719 is great for a variety of music genres, particularly classical and jazz.
- Great price point for those on a budget
- Favored by students
- 5 year warranty
- On a couple of clarinets, the ligature can ride up
Our third pick is from super music brand, Vandoren and is their LC01P Optimum Ligature, complete with plastic cap.
Designed to fit to perfection, the LC01P comes with pressure plates and is designed to be fitted quickly for those who don’t want to waste time meddling around with the screws.
The cap ensures extra security to the mouthpiece and ligature and the ligature itself keeps the reed firmly in place to ensure that you are comfortable when performing whilst assisting in centering the vibrations to deliver a crisp sound.
As it can be fitted with any reed, it can be used by beginners and advanced players with the latter benefitting even more thanks to securing thicker reeds to deliver rounded performances on the lowest and highest notes.
With a 4.6 stars average from over 400 reviews, the reviews comment on the brilliant versatility that comes from the 3 varying pressure plate levels, allowing you to alter the tightness depending on what kind of music you are performing.
The design is sleek and well-structured, maintaining its durability after years of continuous use.
- Ideal for advanced players and professionals
- Comes with protective cap
- Keeps the reed firmly in place for a crisp sound
- High price point
Our penultimate pick is another ligature from Vandoren and is very different from the previous Vandoren offering as the main body of the ligature is made from leather with the fixtures made from metal.
Like the LC01P before it, the LC21P comes with a protective plastic cap to ensure that both the ligature and mouthpiece are secure to avoid any breakage.
It also comes with 3 pressure plates, allowing you to adjust the tightness depending on what level you play at and what type of music you wish to play.
This model does come at a higher price point but the high quality of the design and manufacturing ensures that this is a ligature that will last for years to come.
In the long run, you will get more money per wear than cheaper models thanks to its ability to work with any reed for any type of performance.
With 4.6 stars from over 100 reviews, this ligature is perfect for those who want a unique looking ligature that also delivers high quality sound.
The ability to adapt the tightness to suit your comfortability can improve the clarity of the sound. This model is loved by advanced and professional players who have to shift between genres a lot but don’t want to keep splashing out money on various ligatures.
- Leather material body is a perfect alternative to metal
- 3 pressure plate levels to adapt to varying performances
- Ideal for advanced and professional players
- High price point
Our last choice is from another reliable brand with D’Addario’s Woodwinds H-Ligature. This can be used on any woodwind instrument that requires reeds but is most commonly used on the clarinet.
Again, this comes with a cap to ensure the mouthpiece and ligature’s security. Marketed at a great price point, the H-Ligerature model is a favorite for those who are beginner or intermediate and are wanting to take that next step to enhance their performance.
Silver-plated with a two screw inverted design, the D’Addario ligature applies equal pressure from both sides to ensure a consistent sound.
With 4.4 stars from over 200 reviews, the D’Addario ligature provides a great vibration between the reed and mouthpiece, especially when it comes to the lower notes.
Lots of buyers have commented that this option is better than a lot of expensive models thanks to its durability. It’s a handy model to have a replacement in your case should anything happen to your current ligature.
- Two screw design means that equal pressure is assigned on both sides
- Great price point for those on a budget
- Comes with a protective cap
- Not as consistent with higher notes
Best Clarinet Ligature Buying Guide
Ligatures are one of the most essential parts of the clarinet so you want to make sure that you get one that works best for you.
You need to make sure that you follow instructions on how to fix one on your mouthpiece without applying too much pressure as this will break or split your reed.
There are so many ligatures on the market that it can understandably seem overwhelming when deciding which one is the best for you.
The five ligatures recommended in this article are among the best available and are worth serious contention as it will be difficult to find other ones that deliver a better job.
Varying from high end to budget and made from differing materials, the ligature itself will differ depending on how its screw fixtures are applied and where the applied pressure points are.
This can make a difference in sound as some work better for classic, some work better for jazz, or theatre, etc.
As can be expected, each clarinet player is different so depending on your ability and style of music, the ligature can work with or against you.
When researching which ligature works best for you, always consider your ability, style of music, whether you are planning to use the ligature for a long period of time or just as a quick replacement and lastly, the budget.
Once you’ve looked into all of these factors then you’ll be able to find a ligature that is perfect for you and will do the best job.
As ever, when purchasing the ligature, you want to consider what your current ability is. Some ligatures can have lots of pressure applied or minimal and depending on your ability and expertise when it comes to playing the clarinet, it can make all the difference.
Also, certain ligatures work for certain reeds so if you’re a more advanced player and require thicker reeds then it’s important to make sure that the ligature you are purchasing can fit the reed perfectly without causing any damage.
Style of music
Following on from ability, the style of music is so important as certain ligatures can help create warmer sounds thanks to their equal pressure points.
A warmer sound is ideal for classical pieces and can help create a richer sound whereas some ligatures can help create a crisp sound which is great for jazz music. Most ligatures come with a more universal use so you can adapt it to work for all sorts of music.
The next aspect to consider is when you will be using your ligature. Some people like to have a ligature as a quick replacement in case their current model breaks and they need a new ligature immediately whereas others plan to use their replacements for a longer period of time.
When you’re researching various ligatures, always bear in mind their durability to ensure that it will last for the length of time you need it for.
If you’re buying a ligature as a quick replacement, make sure that it is suitable for the pieces you are working on at the moment, whereas if it’s a ligature for the long-term then consider what kinds of pieces you are playing in the future.
As with anything, always consider how much you are wanting to spend on your ligature. As can be expected, there are high end options and budget options so always consider how much you play your clarinet for, what level you are at and whether you want to invest in your clarinet career.
If you are a specialist or professional player then it’s understandable that you will need a ligature that meets your specific needs whereas if you are a student at the beginning of your career then it’s just a case of getting the basic techniques down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the ligature affect sound?
The ligature is a crucial component to ensuring the clarinet makes any sound at all as it is what holds the reed and mouthpiece together. The sound is generated through the vibrations made between the reed and the mouthpiece and the ligature ensures that they stay together.
Ligatures have screw fixtures and pressure points which can enhance specific music genres such as classical, jazz or theatre. There are some ligatures that are made for specific types of music but the majority of ligatures can be fixed to assist with any type of music.
How tight should a clarinet ligature be?
A clarinet ligature should be tight enough that the reed is secured to the mouthpiece without movement but not so tight that it can break or split the reed.
If you have tightened the ligature so much that your reed breaks, you won’t be able to play properly as the vibrations won’t generate correctly between the reed and the mouthpiece.
On the other hand, if the ligature is too loose then the reed will slip and move during performance and this can cause squeaks as you won’t be able to produce the sound properly.
How do you clean a clarinet ligature?
Cleaning a clarinet ligature is easy as you just need to use warm water and a cloth to get rid of any dirt or limescale.
Even if your ligature looks clean, it’s advised to wash it at least once a month to make sure you are maintaining safe hygienic practices especially if you are spending many hours practicing.
When you’re a more advanced or professional clarinetist, you’ll be able to tell when your ligature is ready to be cleaned.