Wow, amazing!

I have just bought a Vandoren V16 mouthpiece, which I am very pleased with. It sits nicely between the very dark Jody Jazz HR and the very bright D'Addario Select Jazz mouthpieces I already have, and suits me better. However, the ligature I have isn't a very good fit for the V16 so I decided to get a new one and chose the Vandoren Optimum as the one that was likely to be the best match. To be honest, I thought that the claims about the benefits of 3 different plates was snake oil so I was very surprised to discover that they do actually make a difference.

The ligature is very well made and makes the business of attaching the reed to the mouthpiece very easy. The Optimum delivers a marked improvement in tone compared to my old ligature. The combination of the V16 mouthpiece and Optimum ligature is a very substantial improvement on what I had before.

The plates are very easy to put on and remove, and each of them has a distinctive tone. Two of the three are quite appealing to me and one I wouldn't use. Vandoren does quite a good job of describing the differences in how they sound, though I'm not sure how much help that is beforehand. It's only when you try them that you really understand what they are saying.

I am really amazed that the purchase of a mouthpiece that suits me better and a matching, high quality ligature has made such an improvement to my tone. I thought the problem was all down to my playing. It probably was, but with a mouthpiece and ligature that works better for me, I can do a better job.