Yanagisawa, a well-known Japanese saxophone maker, has just released a professional ligature called the “Yani SIXS” for alto saxophone and/or Bb clarinet. This name comes from the popular nickname for the Yanigisawa brand, “Yani” (pronounced “Yah-knee”), plus “SIXS” for the six points the ligature is in contact with mouthpiece/reed and the six spaces the ligature creates around the mouthpiece.
The appearance of the ligature is very, very chic! Like many products that we have grown accustomed to receiving from Japan, the craftsmanship of this ligature is quite remarkable. The gold-plated brass does not feel fragile, as with a Bay ligature, but is not made of thick brass as an Ishimori ligature - perfect medium. It is an inverted ligature with one screw on the top and four small discs on the bottom. These discs are the only direct contact with the reed at the bark/stock. The brass from the ligature never comes directly in contact with the mouthpiece either, due to the four ebonite spacers used. Like previously mentioned, these spacers and the disc create the “six” places of contact and “six” spaces between contact. See picture Figure 1.
I was lucky enough to have been gifted this ligature in March by one of my Japanese colleagues, Emi Kondo, who was a Yanagisawa employee. Over the past couple of months I have had plenty of time to try this ligature in many difference performance and rehearsal situations, as well as comparing it side by side with my (many) other ligatures. Below are my opinions of the ligature when played on my current set up. (Yamaha-875EX, V1 GP Neck, Selmer S90-180 Mouthpiece, D’Addario 3.5 Reeds)
Overall, my initial reaction to the ligature was, “Wow!” And honestly, my opinion has not changed that much since then. The sound is clean, resonant, and flexible with a very effortless articulation. When compared to my Solid Silver Ishimori, the Yani SIXS focuses the sound a bit more and in the process “tidies up” the edges of the sound. Additionally, the low register seemed significantly easier with this ligature. I did find that the reeds played softer than with my usual setup, which did brighten up the sound and add a bit of projection.
While the ligature is absolutely stunning, the one-screw mechanism has me a bit worried. In order to tighten the ligature so it does not slip, the ligature feels, and sounds, like it is going to break. I tried to remedy this situation by tightening less, but the ligature is then prone to slipping. Therefore, it requires significant force to properly secure the ligature on the mouthpiece. At the price point that this ligature is at, I worry about the longevity with the tightening that is required.
Like with any equipment, the sound varies drastically from person to person. However, I can say with 100% confidence that the Yanigisawa “Yani SIXS” is a great ligature and worth a try from any saxophonist!