The pictures above show two 'Reverse-Facing' Bonade ligatures. The one on the left was bought in the 1990s and the one on the right a few years ago as a replacement. I don't see too many people using Bonades these days, but some time ago they were pretty popular. I feel they help to give a nice dark, creamy sound and facilitate articulation. I'd often use my Bonade with a good reed which I felt was slightly too 'excitable', just to bring it into line!
My last post was about variations in Vandoren reeds made years apart. Some differences between reeds can, of course, be explained by the fact that they're made out of organic material and this means there are natural variations. However, the differences in the ligatures above, cannot.
You can easily see by eye that these two ligatures are NOT identical. I measured the distance between the railings with my (fairly) trusty vernier calipers.
The older of the two ligatures (which is more tarnished), measures approx 2mm between the rails at the top, and 3mm at the bottom. The more modern of the two measures slightly over 4mm at the top of the rails and just over 3mm at the bottom!
This means the rails which make that all-important contact with the reed (the whole purpose of a ligature!) on the more modern 'Bonade' are TWICE the distance apart at the top compared with the older ligatures. The rails actually start to come together (converge) towards the bottom of the reed! The older ligature does the opposite, the rails diverge slightly towards the bottom and they start much closer together at the top.
Neither ligature has been altered in any way by me. Like I said, the Bonade has a lot of great qualities which I appreciate. I bought the first ligature directly from a good shop, and the second online (through Amazon), from what I thought was a reputable seller. Of course it's possible I bought a fake.
I also see that many of the reputable UK dealers are listing Bonades as 'out of stock' at the moment, perhaps the maker has stopped making them? It's also interesting to note that these ligatures still seem to be widely available from less reputable sources elsewhere in the world, and seemingly at a cut price... (I paid the full whack, mind!).
I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has noticed any changes in these ligatures though?
P.S. - my reason for replacing the original ligature was that the screw thread went on it after a fair number of years. I have to say the same thing happened with the replacement after less than a year of very occasional use (nb. I don't think it was due to over-tightening!).
I'd love to get my hands on an original one of these with some life left in it if anyone has one!
So I was just gifted some amazing 'vintage' Vandoren clarinet reeds by another one of my wonderful mentors and friends, Arthur Acheson... The earliest reeds (unplayed) date back 50 years to 1966. The others are (I'm estimating) early 1980's and early 2000's.
My flabber is well and truly ghasted and I'm going to post some more blogs on these as and when I can - but in the meantime, here's me embarrassing myself trying to open one of the boxes!