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Thread: My review of the Fortissimo Tension Ring Lig

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    Default My review of the Fortissimo Tension Ring Lig

    I finally got one of these to try out, and I have to say that on tenor, it made a big difference. (So much so that I'm using it to replace my Optimum on tenor.) It's not THAT difficult to use, and the sound is totally worth the effort.

    The main problem with a perpendicular (direct pressure) ligature is getting the amount of pressure correct. You want enough to seal the reed, but not so much that the plate digs into the reed, which in my mind is worse than binding fibers because it actually damages the reed. This is a real problem with Optimum and Winslow ligs. (When you take your reed off, if you can see impressions on the reed where the lig contacts it, you have this problem.)

    The FF has the opposite problem - not enough pressure. If your reed table isn't perfect (and I do mean perfect.) the reed isn't going to seal with it. Fortunately, I'm using a Morgan, so it isn't a problem, but I'd say with a lot of mouthpieces (especially non-perfected stock pieces like a Link or S-80) it's probably going to be a large problem. I'm not sure how well it will work on a concave table piece either. Unlike a fabric lig or a Winslow, this ligature will not compensate for your mouthpiece or reed.

    However, the sound with this is much clearer and more "natural" sounding with the FF, and staccato is much easier to perform without the fear of chirps or "back tonguing". I was really surprised at the difference and very impressed with the sound. The response was improved tremendously, and my Keilwerth finally felt as free-blowing as it should. Altissimo was greatly improved also...no more struggling for high notes.

    The only other criticism I have is that the lig isn't supposed to stay on the mouthpiece when you aren't using it and the "smart cap" is actually rather stupid. Fortunatley for me, there is a dedicated spot in my case for the mouthpiece, which allows me to keep it on. It also looks a little odd in use, and it reminds me of orthodonic headgear.

    If the sound is going to be improved this much, I can live with the problems. It still needs another screw at the bottom, but otherwise I found that it works very well and really opens up my sound! If you're looking for a new ligature, try one of these and see if it's good for you...they are a little expensive, and they aren't for everyone, but I really like mine and I'm using it now as my primary classical lig on tenor.

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    I'm a little skeptical that indentations in the top of the reed actually damage it...has anyone experimented with this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dshack
    I'm a little skeptical that indentations in the top of the reed actually damage it...has anyone experimented with this?

    I have. They can damage the reed depending on where they are. In any event, you don't need that much pressure to hold the reed on to the mouthpiece.

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    J.Max, glad you are enjoying the lig. It was a pleasure doing business with you!

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    J.Max, I'm going to postulate a theory at this point. You've got some great threads regarding gear reviews, and I'm sure many people have found these very helpful, myself included. Now for my theory(s)
    Theory 1: You're single, got a pretty good full-time job, teaching or otherwise, no pets, no kids, no expenses beyond yourself.
    Theory 2: You're the child of rich parents that pay for all of your stuff.

    I prefer to think that theory 1 is correct, the inspiration for these theories being, "WHERE DO YOU GET MONEY TO TRY ALL OF THIS STUFF OUT, I'M JEALOUS!!!" When I was living on student loan money I experimented some, but certainly not to this extent, you're doing what I'd love to do. I've got the horn I want, now I'd love to play with all sorts of mpc, ligature, & reed combos to see what happens. I've played with quite a few ligatures and keep coming back to the old Selmer(Paris) two-screw lig, it's best overall for me, but the temptation to try the Vandoren Optimum and this FF lig is very tempting, but I don't got the money. Have fun with your set-up GAS, sounds like you're enjoying yourself!
    selmerfan

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    Actually, I have a good full-time job, and a VERY understanding wife..."But, honey, I'm doing this for research purposes!"

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    Your wife and my wife need to get together....or maybe it's not the wife, maybe it's the two kids!
    selmerfan

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    Mouthpiece Refacer Extraordinaire and Forum Contributor 2010 EZ's Avatar
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    I'm not only a member... I'm the President...

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    ez_sax, President of what? I'm confused....
    selmerfan

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    Mouthpiece Refacer Extraordinaire and Forum Contributor 2010 EZ's Avatar
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    I was attempting at a humorous reference to the old "Hair Club for Men" commercial - implying that I, too, occasionally face the wrath of my wife when it comes to buying gear.

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    I was wondering if you were declaring President of the same club I was in...
    selmerfan

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Razzy's Avatar
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    Selmerfan, if you want to try the optimum, first make sure it fits your mouthpiece. I play a Meyer (alto) and it's a perfect fit for all the Meyer alto pieces I've played. A bit more loose of a fit on the Meyer tenor but still fits fine.

    Provided it fits, get the Optimum from junkdude. No doubt in my mind you'll be happy. I've been using the same one for 4 years straight with zero problems. Very easy to use, assures a good reed seal, and response and articulation are better than any lig I've tried on alto.

    The only thing I wonder about the Fortissimo is... would my experience be similar to the FL Ultimate ligs?? The FL ligs improve the sound and response tremendously, however, the reed seems to stop sealing on even a great, refaced mouthpiece after a few minutes, inevitably. I've used them on bari and tenor, but in both cases switched to something more practical for a good reed seal. It's a shame because I LOVE the way they enhance the tone and just make it more rich and carrying. BUT I couldn't deal with the reed issues so I had to retire it on bari in favor of a standard 2-screw, and go back to the optimum on tenor (on which I didn't notice as pronounced a difference, but it was still there). I also wonder how much of the perceived tonal difference can actually be heard by an audience member, and how much was really just the vibrations carrying back to my own head a little more.

    BTW I tried the FL lig on alto but it was a little too small for the Meyer. It could be forced on (I know a few players who do this) but even when it was, I didn't notice a difference from the optimum in ANY facet of sound, articulation, response, etc. On bari the difference was marginal and on bari it was very pronounced...

    Blah blah ligature ligature hold the reed on.
    My quintet album - Released June 2013. Please enjoy.
    Glenn Miller Orchestra - See when we're near you and come on out to a show! Ask me about comp tickets.
    Mike Lorenz - a great musician who I collaborate with often. He also produced my album.

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    I tried a FL lig at Tenor Madness when another guys trying horns there had one. It was a very short trial, but I didn't think it was any better, and even a little worse than my 2-screw Selmer(Paris) I keep trying ligatures and the 2-screw keeps coming out on top, so I'm just going to be content with it until my two are stretched out, then maybe I'll try a different one.
    selmerfan

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    The FL is the one lig I haven't tried. I need to get around to that one of these days...

    To clarify, it's not that the FF lig doesn't seal the reed, it's just that the seal isn't very tight, so the reed will seal to the mouthpiece, but any bump or nudge will move it off center.

    And, BTW, I'll second the recommendation of the Optimum...I use those on my other two horns, and if I had a different mouthpiece for my tenor, I might still use the Optimum on it too.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max
    The main problem with a perpendicular (direct pressure) ligature is getting the amount of pressure correct. You want enough to seal the reed, but not so much that the plate digs into the reed, which in my mind is worse than binding fibers because it actually damages the reed. This is a real problem with Optimum and Winslow ligs. (When you take your reed off, if you can see impressions on the reed where the lig contacts it, you have this problem.)
    Try this....
    Take one of the plates of your Optimum that you don't use (either the one with four dots or the two lines that go across the reed). Using a hacksaw or cut-off wheel on a dremel type tool cut the ends off the plate. i.e.- cut the raised lines or the dots off the plate. I cut mine through the hole two holes in the mounting bracket on the back of the plate so the left over plate is about 3/8 of an in wide now. Then take some very fine emery paper and super glue it to the plate where the reed will sit. Cut off the excess and you're done.

    Your Optimum will now be Optimised, and it won't slip on the reed if not done up tight enough, and will not leave any indentations in your reeds.

    1. A couple of important notes about doing this. If your Optimum is a little big for your mouthpiece this will make it looser, and it may not be able to contact the reed, so you may need to build the plate up a bit. Just use extra layers of emery paper.

    2. Put the reed on the mouthpiece before you put the ligature on or the emery paper will scratch the table of your mouthpiece.

    Interested to know your thoughts.
    Saxes: Sop: P Mauriat System 76 - Super Session J | Alto: Selmer Mk VI 133xxx -SAXWORKS | Tenor: Selmer Serie III - Guardala Studio | Bari: YBS-61 - Brendan Tibbs Solid Silver BP 0.115" | Flute: Trevor James Millenium Edition | Cl: Buffet RC

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    Quote Originally Posted by danerida
    Try this....
    Take one of the plates of your Optimum that you don't use (either the one with four dots or the two lines that go across the reed). Using a hacksaw or cut-off wheel on a dremel type tool cut the ends off the plate. i.e.- cut the raised lines or the dots off the plate. I cut mine through the hole two holes in the mounting bracket on the back of the plate so the left over plate is about 3/8 of an in wide now. Then take some very fine emery paper and super glue it to the plate where the reed will sit. Cut off the excess and you're done.

    Your Optimum will now be Optimised, and it won't slip on the reed if not done up tight enough, and will not leave any indentations in your reeds.

    1. A couple of important notes about doing this. If your Optimum is a little big for your mouthpiece this will make it looser, and it may not be able to contact the reed, so you may need to build the plate up a bit. Just use extra layers of emery paper.

    2. Put the reed on the mouthpiece before you put the ligature on or the emery paper will scratch the table of your mouthpiece.

    Interested to know your thoughts.

    I'll try this, but I have actually made some custom plates for my Optimum lig that work really well...part of my skunkworks project. I made one that emulates the best ligature of all - my thumb. Works great now! I used a thin layer of memory foam on top of an altered vertical rail plate...the foam compresses, but still leaves enough space to cushion the plate so that the parts don't dig into the reed. It also has the advantage of conforming to the shape of the reed. Memory foam is slightly sticky too, so no problems with slippage. Frees up the reed quite a bit this way.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max
    I'll try this, but I have actually made some custom plates for my Optimum lig that work really well...part of my skunkworks project. I made one that emulates the best ligature of all - my thumb. Works great now! I used a thin layer of memory foam on top of an altered vertical rail plate...the foam compresses, but still leaves enough space to cushion the plate so that the parts don't dig into the reed. It also has the advantage of conforming to the shape of the reed. Memory foam is slightly sticky too, so no problems with slippage. Frees up the reed quite a bit this way.
    Memory foam... interesting. Does it seem to dampen the reed at all? It seems like it might be enlightening to try this on an Otto Link ligature.
    “Jazz is music made by and for people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwolf42
    Memory foam... interesting. Does it seem to dampen the reed at all? It seems like it might be enlightening to try this on an Otto Link ligature.

    No, I use a thin enough layer to where that isn't a problem...Memory foam is dense enough that it doesn't dampen vibrations.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max
    No, I use a thin enough layer to where that isn't a problem...Memory foam is dense enough that it doesn't dampen vibrations.
    How thin would you say? BTW, where did you get the memory foam?
    “Jazz is music made by and for people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions.”
    -Johnny Griffin

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    The memory foam I used is about 1/8 of an inch thick...I got it from a place that was showing samples of memory foam mattresses, and they were just giving this away as a sample.

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