I’m on record as believing that clarinet and saxophone ligatures make little if any actual difference in how you sound. You’re welcome to disagree, but you might want to watch Michael Lowenstern’s video about it first.
So, assuming the ligature has little direct influence on sound, what is the best kind to buy?
Consider the humble fabric-type ligature:
They can be made of fabric or various other flexible materials. Fake-leather materials are popular.
Here are their advantages over most other ligatures:
- Generally inexpensive, although there are pricier versions available if paying more makes you feel better
- Relatively easy to fit to even unusual mouthpieces and reeds, since they are flexible
- Durable: I still have and use one I bought in high school
- Not easily damaged: can be dropped, stepped on, or otherwise battered with little if any ill effect
- Won’t dig into or otherwise damage reeds or mouthpieces
- More expensive than an actual shoelace, but quicker and easier to install
- Ambidextrous: many of the popular inexpensive ones can be switched for left- or right-handed screw tightening
- Usually just one screw to tighten, so 50% less tightening/loosening time than the many other kinds of ligatures that have two screws
- Available: no waiting lists or custom-building, easily purchaseable from just about any brick-and-mortar or online band-instrument retailer
I have a number of fancy and expensive ligatures that various teachers required I buy over the years of my education, including some plated in actual gold. They don’t outperform my fabric-type ones in any meaningful way. You may still see them in my performance videos, etc., as I am still trying to get my money’s worth out of them. When they break or wear out, I’ll replace them cheaply and easily with good reliable fabric ones.
Get a good, reliable, no-nonsense ligature to hold your reed in place, and happy practicing!