Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Making Your Own Vintage Otto Link Tone Edge Slant Signature Mouthpiece - Part 2

So why an I starting this on Part 2?  Because first we are going to make a real vintage Otto Link ligature to go with our Otto Link Tone Edge.  Making a Link ligature is really easy because nobody is quite certain what an Otto Link ligature looks like.  Or why they are so valuable.  Or why claiming that an old ligature is a "Link" is important to some players.  

This lack of knowledge is good for us.  It gives us a lot of latitude when making our genuine vintage Otto Link Tone Edge ligature.  Various sites on the internet show various configurations and claim that the "real" Otto Link Tone Edge ligatures changed over the years.  And they did.  Which should make it really easy for us to make one for ourselves.

But first, let's look at a little reality (some of you may want to skip this section).  Mr. Otto Link did not "make" ligatures.  Just like Mr. Link did not "make" mouthpieces.  Link purchased blanks for both ligatures and mouthpieces from suppliers.  The ligatures were probably purchased from AP&M (American Plating and Manufacturing Co.) a company that is still in business and still makes ligatures.  Just like JJ Babbitt (the source of Link's mouthpiece blanks), AP&M will make you blank ligatures that don't have the AP&M logo on them.  You can them customize them to your own standards.  We are going to customize ours in the same way as did Mr. Link and others.  People think that only Mr. Link stamped "A" and "T" on his ligatures back in the day.  They are wrong.  

Here's the AP&M logo on an old ligature.  You can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.  These are usually $10-15 on sites like Ebay.  Even better is to buy one that's on an old mouthpiece that interests you.  
This style has a cut out on each side that is a rectangle with a half circle.  I'll call this style "Otto Link #1."  But wait a minute, that's not an official vintage Otto Link Tone Edge ligature.  Otto Link ligatures didn't have the AP&M logo on them and had instead a "T" stamped on them for tenor and an "A" stamped on them for alto.  

Right you are.  Here's an official "Otto Link #1" tenor.

See, it has a "T" stamped on it.  What else is different?  Well, here you have to make stuff up about "special brass alloy because Link used only brass from melting down Adolph Sax's original instruments'" or that the brass is eburnated, or thicker, or something like that.  That's not plausible, you say?  Well it doesn't have to be plausible.  We are talking about vintage saxophone lore and mystical acoustic assertions.  Stuff that appeals to collectors, teenage students, etc., therefore the assertions do not need to be rational.  Common sense isn't necessary.  Try it for yourself by completing this sentence: "Vintage Link ligatures are worth a lot more money because _______________________________________."  (Fill in the blank).

Let's look at another vintage Otto Link Tone Edge ligature.  This one showed up on Ebay.  Yes, you are reading it correctly.  The price is $110.
Notice that this ligature has a different shaped cutout on the side.  We will call this style "Otto Link #2".  One of the interesting things about this piece is that the seller admits that only one of the screws is original.  Take a close look at this second picture.  The screws are different.
What if it is the original Otto Link screws that give a vintage Otto Link ligature it's sine qua non, i.e., it's the screws that make them special.  And, what's worse, when you begin your search for another original Otto Link ligature screw, how do you know which one is the original?  It looks like you're screwed and you're still paying $18 a month if you bought the one shown above.

Fortunately, I can help.  Here is a picture of my original rare vintage Otto Link Tone Edge ligature with it's original screws.
Looking back at the prior picture, we can see that it is the bottom screw in the Ebay advertisement that is the original.  That one screw will give the ligature an "almost" vintage Link sound.  You will need both original screws, like on mine, to get the true Otto Link sound.

But I do have a slight problem.  My Link style #1 ligature doesn't have a "T" stamped on the front.  I'm sure that Mr. Link simply forgot to stamp it.
That's not a big problem because I can do what Mr. Link and many others (music stores and mouthpiece wholesalers) have done to make a common run-of-the-mill ligature into an official rare vintage Link Slant Signature Tone Edge ligature.  

Here's how it is done.  Buy a set of steel stamps off of Ebay. Get the ones that are sans serif if you want to make real Link ligatures.  A set costs about $8.   
Be careful because the "fake" vintage Otto Link ligatures use a different font (as is shown in the Ebay picture).  We want to make real ones because _______________________________________________.

You then place the ligature on an anvil.  This picture is of an Otto Link style #2 ligature ready to be "Linkified" because Mr. Link, or some music store, forgot to stamp it.
I should note that this ligature originally had some lacquer on it. Like most of my official rare vintage Link ligatures, it showed up free in the bottom of an old case.  To make it rare, I simply call it rare.  To make it "vintage,"  I boiled it.  When removed from the hot water, you just wait a few minutes and the lacquer falls off.  You can see the lacquer flaking off in this picture.  I talked about lacquer removal on the entire saxophone in this blog.
To make it official, I then tap on the super special "Link T" and I have a genuine rare vintage Otto Link ligature like the one shown in the Ebay advertisement.  What started out as a common junky ligature is now worth a lot more ($150???) because both of the matching screws are now "real Link screws."

I recommend that you go further and add a patina to make sure that your real vintage Link ligature looks real.  Here it is before the patina.  You can see that it's too shiny when compared to our other really real rare vintage original Link ligature.

That's more like it.  It's now worth $150 more because it's also a real vintage Link ligature. 

Same is true with the my other Link ligature that was missing its Link "T".  Whack it with the stamp and it's the real deal.  A genuine Otto Link ligature now worth $150 more than a regular old ligature.



It is worth noting that there is a third style of vintage Link ligature, a style #3 if you will.  Unfortunately, that style had an opening right in the middle opposite the screws (an opening so that you could read the Link name on the mouthpiece when the ligature was in place).  Because of the opening, there wasn't a good place for Mr. Link or others to stamp a "T" or an "A" on that style, so it doesn't command a ridiculous price.  It's just a plain old ligature.

Making real vintage Link ligatures is simple, fun, and can be incredibly rewarding (especially financially if you find the right sucker buyer).  It was much easier than when I made some genuine vintage Brilhart ligatures.  That requires engraving skills and a much more complex stamp.  You have to play a Brilhart mouthpiece with a Brilhart ligatures because ______________________________.


Now I have got to get busy writing a blog on how to make a real vintage Link Slant Signature Tone Edge using the readily available vintage blanks.  I'm eburnating my hard rubber blanks right now and they should be ready in about a week.

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