Marc Jean Ligature Review

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! : )

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. Hello Steve,
    I am wondering how you are getting on with the Marc Jean Lig.
    If you are still using it or have you returned to “old” favourites?
    I am considering getting one for my EB Tone edge which as a mpce is almost perfect………but…… !!!!
    Anyway, i often peruse your site and appreciate the work you have done in this great resource for sax players.
    Ray

  2. Yes, I’m still using the alto and tenor ligs. I love mine on my EB link. I’m glad you like the site, Thanks for visiting.

  3. Thanks for the reply Steve, I guess I will order one asap.

  4. Avatar Mike McGlynn says

    Hi Steve, have you tried any of Marc Jean Ligatures on Theo wanne
    metal mouthopieces? Durga, Gaia? thanks I always appreciate your website very informative

  5. No I haven’t. I do have a metal Marc Jean ligature here but it is just a prototype. He does have a leather lig I believe for metal tenor pieces. I might try that at a future date.

  6. Steve,

    You mentioned that you have A LOT of ligatures. Have you been able to compare the MJ ligature to a BG traditional?

    I use BG traditionals and love them. My alto one may need replacing soon. I would be looking to stay with the brass models. They run about the same price.

    Thanks,
    bronzzoot

  7. No, I just looked, I don’t have any BG ligs. I probably have 50 other ones but no BG’s.

  8. Avatar Alain vandal says

    Marc Jean is one of the best repairman in montreal and area and it’s also one of the most gentle guy in earth. He work very long time in this lig concept. Glad for him people like is lig. I have try it for my alto and love it also.

  9. Avatar Mike McGlynn says

    Hi Steve, I finally got Marc Jean ligature for my Theo Wanne Durga metal
    tenor mouthpiece, it also fits my tenor AMMA and Gaia, I had ordered one earlier but it did not fit my Wanne mouthpieces so I put it on a Lawton tenor and it worked great, I spoke to Marc recently and he had mentioned he is working on a otto Link model , they are really terrific ligatures, I also wanted to give a heads up, since Marc does not have every mouthpiece model, when the ligature arrives it usually is not shaped perfectly for your mouth piece, I had to takke both screws out and slip the ligature over the mouthpiece to where it would fit , then screw them back on and tighten as much as possible until the ligature conformed more closely to the mouthpiece, it now fits perfectly on the Durga, Amma and Gaia mouthpiece, Steve I also mentioned the great job you have done on the ligature review, your review of the ligature encouraged me to go out and get one ,same goes for your Theo Wanne Gaia review. Thank you for all you do for the saxophone community

  10. I got a Marc Jean for the Warburton LA, and I absolutely love it, not least because it fits all my other metal tenor pieces. It just makes playing easier, evens up the sound across the range, makes more reeds play well. I’ve ordered HR ones for soprano, alto, and tenor too. It might sound a lot of money just for a lig, but I compared results with Optimum and Rovner ligs, and the Marc Jean was notably superior in every respect.

  11. Hi Steve,
    Please, could you tell me if your Marc Jean for alto fits the alto Drake Contemporary, and if it does, which is its size? The Contemporary has a very strange shape, and I always have problems trying to find the proper size of ligature for it.
    Thank you for the site and all the valuable info. Best regards,
    Joaquin

  12. Joaquin,
    I would contact Marc personally and tell him, he does custom size ligatures.
    But when I was using my Drake NY Jazz, it also had a funky shape and only clarinet ligatures would fit because of the taper.
    Hope this helps,
    Jack

  13. Thank you, Jack!
    Marc told me to use the 500 size (which “fits most hard rubber mouthpieces”), but he recommends the 511-515 size for the Drake NY Jazz. It’s really confusing!

  14. I’m looking at this ligature – Marc Jean – for my mouthpiece Ambika 7 * Hard Rubber and a Silverstein Ligature for my metal Otto Flórida 7.

    What do you think Steve?

  15. Carpejazz, I really can’t say………you’re putting too much pressure on me…….. They are both great ligatures! Really!!! The differences are so subtle that you have to try them for yourself to decide if they are for you. The Marc Jean tends to brighten things up for me so that is the starting point. Do you want the Ambika a little brighter? If so the Marc Jean is the way to go. As far as the Silverstein for the link…………I don’t know what you are starting with for a lig. If it is a stock OL link then the Silverstein is worth the upgrade in my opinion. It frees the sound up while giving it more life…….. Those are my opinions. Hope they help.. Steve

  16. Very thanks…

  17. I just got the lig. I love it! It’s better than my current one, a Ligaphone. Great dynamic range with a bright sound on mu Mark 6 alto.

  18. Avatar Pat Donegan says

    Steve,
    You gave the Marc Jean lig a wonderful review, I’m curious to know if you have ever compared it to the Oleg or Winslow ligs. I use both of these on my Tenor Link and find them equally good in performance. Over the years I tried lots of other ligs but always came back to the Oleg or Winslow. Would love to hear your opinion on the above.

    Love getting your monthly updates, God bless for now.

    Regards
    Pat.

  19. Pat,
    I have some Oleg ligatures and a SAXXAS ligature which is like a Winslow. Although these ligatures are cool for me I have always felt like they move around too much on the mouthpiece. When I’m on a gig I have to adjust the mouthpiece for intonation quickly and can’t afford a ligature shifting on my. With the Oleg and SAXXAS it has happened enough times that I don’t feel comfortable using them. I don’t have that problem with the Marc Jean ligature………..

  20. Avatar alain Vandal says

    I can’t comment on the Oleg, but I found some similarity between the Marc Jean and the Winslow, although I found the MJ a little bit warmer, less “hi-fi” than the Winslow.

  21. Avatar Dominique Frasson-Cochet says

    Dear Steve,

    I’ve read your Marc Jean’s lig review so I ordered 2 for both my Tone Edge HR sop & ts.

    I’m not that much a lig freak but I’ve to say they do work fine, it’s like the range of the mpc has been increased on both ends, they are not stuffy any more ! Thanks for the great job you do for the sax fraternity.

    Your BT story is quite terrific in all ways, you should make an awesome book from it !

    Thanks a lot again and take care.

    BR

    DFC

    France

  22. Avatar Chuck Miller says

    A few questions:
    What does the ligature look like from the to when on a mouthpiece, could I get a picture?
    Do you think it would be possible for Marc to make a custom single screw version of this ligature?
    How would I go about buying this ligature since I live in the United States?
    Thanks so much!

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