Around the middle of February I received an email from Marc Jean at Musique de Marc asking if I would be interested in trying one of his Marc Jean ligatures. He said it was a new design and that many players of note were digging it. I was a bit skeptical as I get a few of these emails every month but I have to admit that as I read his email I was very interested. I emailed him back and said I would love to try it and told him I had a box of about 50 saxophone ligatures sitting on my desk so if I dug his………that was saying something!…………
Marc Jean sent me a ligature for a hard rubber tenor saxophone mouthpiece to try. When I received it and opened the box I immediately new that Marc Jean is a man that takes pride in his work. The ligature was perfect looking. It was brushed gold and had no imperfections in it. It is a reverse ligature which means that the screws are on the top of the mouthpiece. On the bottom of the ligature are 2 wooden sticks that are a reddish color. These two sticks are somewhat uneven and non parallel but Marc told me that this is on purpose and that the reed responds better this way. The two wood sticks are not flimsy toothpick pieces. What ever they are, they are harder than the cane of a reed. I was afraid that the wood sticks would get compressed and ruined but I’ve been using the ligature for about 6 weeks every day and the wood sticks looks great.
OK, now you might be asking what difference this ligature might make compared to other saxophone ligatures? All I can give you is my personal experience. On tenor saxophone I have been using metal Otto Links for the last 6 months and had all but decided to sell my hard rubber mouthpieces. My favorite hard rubber mouthpiece on tenor is a Early Babbitt Otto Link that I have been using a Francois Louis ligature on. The Francois Louis ligature has been my favorite ligature for about 3-4 years now I think. Well, when I received the Marc Jean Ligature, I wet my good reed and played for awhile using the Francois Louis ligature on my Link. the reed was as perfect as they get and I was digging it but the sound was a bit dull and dark for me. I put on the Marc Jean while holding the reed absolutely still so that it didn’t shift at all. When I played my first note I was amazed! The sound was brighter, louder and fuller. The reed seemed a tad bit softer and easier to blow to me. I was totally excited as the qualities I was hearing were the ones I wanted more of from my hard rubber mouthpieces. I wanted to post on my blog that day about it but decided to wait and see if it would pass the test of time. Well, it has. It has been 6-7 weeks and I love it just as much as I did on that first day.
I loved it so much that I also ordered an alto saxophone ligature clarinet ligature and had the same experience with the alto ligature as the tenor. (I haven’t put the clarinet ligature to the test yet……) I have an Aizen alto mouthpiece that I was on the verge of selling. I was using a Vandoren Optimum ligature on it and was having trouble getting the right reed strength on it. When I used a Java 2 1/2 they were too soft and when I used 3’s they were too hard. I was getting really frustrated about it. I had the Aizen mouthpiece on with a 2 1/2 reed and put the Marc Jean ligature on. The 2 1/2 was way too soft. I was surprised how soft it felt. I put on a brand new Java 3. They had been running hard so I didn’t have high expectations…………the 3 was absolutely perfect with the Marc Jean ligature. I put the Optimum back on being careful to keep the reed in place and wouldn’t you know it, it felt too hard again. I put the Marc Jean back on and have been playing it for the last 4 weeks or so. I was ready to sell the Aizen mouthpiece but I’ve been playing it straight for the last 3-4 weeks.
What I have noticed about these ligatures as they seem to make my reeds blow a tad bit easier. The sound is a bit brighter and more alive for me. I love that. How does it do that? I can only guess. The only contact the ligature has with the reed are those 2 wooden sticks. Maybe the reed has a bit more freedom to vibrate and buzz because the wood is it self a little more flexible than metal. I have no idea. All I know is that I noticed a huge difference and am happier for it.
Now before you say I am just excited over a new purchase I want to state that I purposefully did not post about these for awhile now because I wanted to make sure that they were the real deal. I have bought ligatures before for 50-100 and been totally excited and then 2-3 days later think I just wasted my money when I get a bad reed or have a bad day. For the past 6-7 weeks the Marc Jean ligatures have been great. I have used them with dozens of reeds on dozens of mouthpieces and I am sold on them. My next purchase will be one that fits my metal Links. If you are interested in trying Marc Jean ligatures be sure to check out their website at http://www.musiquedemarc.com/en/index.asp . Check out all the reviews from players on that page. There is also a phone number and email at the bottom to order one. Tell him Steve sent you! : )