To the listener, a ligature may not make much difference to the sound. But for me, it’s about how the reed responds and the right ligature can make a huge difference here. Great reed response inspires me to play my best – and in turn, hopefully, makes it more fun for the listener.
It is for this reason that I have spent a lot of time over the last 25 years experimenting with ligatures and passionately supporting the ones that make playing fun for me.
This month I’ve been having fun trying two new ligatures at different ends of the “appearance” spectrum.
ERG Saxophone Ligature
If simplicity is what you’re looking for then the cool range of new ligatures from Spanish company EGR might be the ticket for you.
Designed and made by saxophonist Enrique Gómez Rodríguez, the EGR is a simple band of braided aluminium that simply pushes onto the mouthpiece holding the reed in place.
I was really surprised at the uncomplicated-ness of it and amazed by the results. It is really easy to fit and my reed responded really well. You do have to make sure you get the right size for your mouthpiece though – they aren’t interchangeable between metal and hard rubber pieces like some other designs.
From a tone point of view, I found my sound a little brighter than some other ligatures, but that isn’t a bad thing. I tested the EGR ligature on my Theo Wanne Ambika hard rubber mouthpiece and for me the combination worked great.
The EGR is definitely a good looking ligature with a wide range of colours and designs for you to express yourself with. And why not! I would definitely suggest trying the EGR, I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I was.
The Rhino Saxophone ligature
As you might expect from the name, the Rhino ligature is a beast. Designed and made in Puerto Rico by Dr Music (Roberto Feliciano Rolon), the Rhino really simplifies the concept of a ligature to a device with just two contact points – one on the reed, the other on the top of the mouthpiece. These points are connected by a large brass ring which is suspended around the mouthpiece and adjusted with a sturdy thumb screw.
Everything about the Rhino is “Industrial strength” – chunky metal work and weighty construction. No delicate design work here.
However, the sound and response is something else.
Fitted to my Theo Wanne Ambika tenor mouthpiece I was amazed at the response from the reed over the whole range. The altissimo is particularly good with notes popping out effortlessly in comparison to other ligatures I’ve been using recently.
Although the Rhino looks clumsy and unrefined, I found my sound even warmer and rounder than normal – possibly down to the mass of the ligature? Either way, it really made a noticeable difference to me.
The Rhino is a hefty piece of kit though to carry around and does make your sax heavier. Also, because of the design, regular mouthpiece caps don’t work with it. The Rhino did come with a leather mouthpiece cap although I struggled to make it work for me.
However, those points aside, I think the Rhino is an awesome piece of kit. It does come in three sizes but the one I tested easily adjusted to fit hard rubber and metal pieces on my tenor, alto and bari.
If you’re looking for a ligature that will give you the best sound possible – and be indestructible, then the Rhino is for you!