The most intriguing accessory on our table at any show is the weird metal plate known as the lefreQue Sound Bridge (Note: pronounced "la-freak"). Countless people walk up and laugh incredulously, especially when one of us excitedly talks about them like they were handed down from the heavens. The best part, however, is how every player reacts when we convince them to try the lefreQues. This is definitely the kind of product that is easy to overlook or walk away from when you don't know what they are. What could two chunks of metal and a 90's hair tie really do for you?
The short answer: a lot.
lefreQues advertise themselves as a sound bridge between joints. Essentially, this means that these plates allow the sound and vibrations to be carried across the joint more accurately between both pieces of the instrument. The idea is that sonically our instruments would be far superior if they were one continuous piece. This isn’t possible because every horn would tune terribly and band kids would need their own bus to take home their horn to practice.
Because we have to break them into smaller pieces, these connections, whether cork or metal on metal, dampen the vibrations and we lose sound. The lefreQues come into play by connecting the two joints with metal plates that can vibrate much more freely. Held on by an elastic band, the metal allows the vibrations from the top joint to travel to the lower. This has the same effect as if the instrument were one piece.
lefreQues come in a variety of metal combinations and sizes. Anyone who has played with ligatures, for example, has probably noticed that the different metals have a unique effect on the sound. You can click here for a complete list of the options lefreQues come in. The different sizes come into play when you begin experimenting with different joint connections. We preferred their recommended sizes, but you are welcome to experiment for yourself and see the difference.
Unfortunately, we can’t just say to you, “This finish is dark and this one is bright.” Each person perceives the difference in sound a different way. Also, the materials sound darker, brighter, louder, purer, etc. depending on the individual player and their setup. We have also noticed that some joints seem to make a bigger difference than others, but again, this has been uniquely different with different players. The only way to know what works for you is to sit down with a variety of lefreQues and do a side-by-side comparison.
Even within our shop, we have conflicting views. Some of us feel a huge difference more than hear it, some hear it, and a couple don’t notice any difference at all. Many instruments are surprisingly improved, and some are a pretty subtle change if anything. Our resident clarinetists were blown away trying them on the R13 model clarinet but then were let down trying the same combo on a Tosca. Some saxophones sound like they have been amplified and some maybe got a bit more smooth. We had so much fun showing attendees at the Navy Symposium what this product can do, but only because each person TRIED them. The reviews and awards the lefreQues have received are undoubtedly deserved. To many players, this is a game changer. The only way to know is to try it. If you have the opportunity to play test the lefreQues at a show or at a local shop, do it.
Now if you'll excuse us, we are going to go practice putting these on so we stop embarrassing ourselves and start looking real cool slapping them on like a boss.