Can a Saxophone Neck Strap Cure Neck Strain While Playing?
While visiting the MACSAX booth at the 2013 NAMM show, the booth to the left was that of the saxophone accessory company, Jazzlab. At this booth, I found a new neck strap called the saXholder (yes, that’s the spelling that the company uses).
Benefits of the saXholder
I was able to talk to Silvin Jancic, who is Jazzlab’s CEO. He was explaining to me the benefit of the saXholder when compared to a traditional neck strap and recommended that I go back and forth between his saXholder and the strap I had been using up until that point. Silvin told me that I would see the benefit of the saXholder the more I practiced on a daily basis.
According to the Jazzlab’s web site, the saXholder will transfer the weight of the sax evenly to both shoulders, with no stress on your neck. Upon playing my horn with it, this strap feels stable while standing up or sitting down, and fits soprano, alto, tenor, and bari saxophone as well as bass clarinet.
A Unique Design
As you see in the picture at the top of this article, the bottom part is positioned on your stomach and can be adjusted based on your preference. The hook, that comes with the strap is made of stainless steel and coated with plastic, which is great because metal hooks can wear down the strap hook on your horn and the plastic on the saXholder prevents this from happening.
I found the saXholder very easy to put on, take off, and adjust. I did enjoy standing when using the saXholder and noticed that unlike a saxophone harness, the saXholder gave me much more mobility while holding the saxophone.
At first sight, the saXholder reminded me of a strap or harness that a snare drum player would use in marching band. I know that some musicians find the saXholder a bit odd looking, but when you place the strap under a jacket, it is not that obvious to others when you are playing on a gig. I decided to purchase this saXholder to see what the benefit would be after practicing between 1 to 1.5 hours a day. I currently use a Kolbl neckstrap, and after switching between the two for the past two weeks, I can definitely see the benefits of the saXholder.
The one thing I did notice about this strap is when you sit down and play the horn to your side, the strap does shift a bit, But generally speaking, the saXholder stays snug on your shoulders.
My overall thoughts on this strap are that it is definitely unlike anything else on the market, and will defintely remove pressure from your neck. I would recommend the saXholder to any student or advanced saxophonist looking to relieve pressure from their neck. If you prefer another neck strap, at least when you go out for gigs, then I still recommend the saXholder for practicing because when shedding for so many hours a week, this unique strap will relieve pressure on your neck, allowing you to shed longer.
To learn more about the saXholder head over to http://www.jazzlab.com/en/saxholder. To purchase one for yourself, in the US, go HERE
or check out the full list of dealers at http://www.jazzlab.com/en/dealers.
April 3, 2013 @ 9:55 am
I’ve been using a homemade shoulder sling (it started life as a weed-wacker strap) for years. Certainly saved me many trips to the bone doctor! Can’t stand neckstraps … or understand why everyone uses them.
April 3, 2013 @ 11:41 am
Thanks for reviewing this product, Zack. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I can tell you that many saxophonists come to me for help because of neck, back and shoulder problems. While the neck strap isn’t the only cause of their problems, it almost always is a significant contributor. Anything that takes the weight of the instrument off the neck and into the shoulders (and distributes the weight of the instrument evenly throughout the entire torso) is a step in the right direction.
And as you mentioned, harnesses don’t allow as much mobility as some saxophonists like. (I actually use a BG harness that gives me great mobility, but it’s all a matter of personal preference, of course.) The saXholder appears to have solved some of these mobility issues. I sure hope that more saxophonists will at least consider it (or at least a good neck harness). It can save note only a lot of pain, but also, can improve your coordination with the instrument. Again, thanks.
November 4, 2013 @ 10:45 am
three days ago I went to an Alexander Technique workshop for saxophonists in Berlin and guess what: A sax teacher and two of his students who joined the workshop used the saxholder. When I tried it my neck instandly felt relieved. Since I practise at home with that vts-2 saxmute which gives the tenor extra weight, I ordered the saxholder. The harness that comes with the saxmute is not made for longer sessions.
And by the way: I totally second Alexander Technique for tone improvement(and allday life)!
April 3, 2013 @ 11:49 am
Zach, so sorry, I just realized I misspelled your name in my response above. Please forgive.
April 3, 2013 @ 12:17 pm
Due to spinal arthritis and vertebre damage, I’ve used a Neotech shoulder harness for many years. I’d probably not be able to play by now otherwise. While the saXholder looks interesting, I’d rather have something that locks my very expensive horn to my body especially when moving around.
April 3, 2013 @ 1:10 pm
I love my Cebulla neck strap which has a gap in the padding at the back alleviating pressure on the spine. But still, horns are heavy so can see the benefits of this- my question would be (without going into too much detail!) how comfortable is it for females? One of the reasons why harnesses are a no-no!
August 22, 2013 @ 10:13 am
It is really comfortable for women. Had mine for about 3 weeks now, and would never go back to a neck sling!
April 5, 2013 @ 12:08 am
I am SO not sold on the saXholder. Too many parts look prone to wear or breakage, the coated steel hook is a strike against it, and the risk of the system slipping off the player is not acceptable. Why tolerate any risk at all when other systems have zero risk of that happening? There are lots of options, like Cebulla, Just Joe’s, Birdstrap, and harnesses, that keep the neck from being tortured without the drawbacks of such an elaborate and potentally insecure system.
April 5, 2013 @ 1:02 pm
I believed the exact same thing in regards to the build quality before I first tried out the neckstrap. After trying it out at the NAMM show, I realized it is a well built strap and will take the pressure off your neck.
The cebulla, Joe’s, and Birdstrap are great neckstraps. I think the saXholder is also a great addition but can understand where you are coming from. I would recommend trying one out, but if you feel the same way, that’s fine.
April 20, 2013 @ 3:05 am
looks awful. the free neck alcantara does it probably better, and looks -arguably- not so dorky.
June 3, 2013 @ 10:15 am
I thought the same when I first saw the neckstrap but to be honest with you, this strap could be your “practicing” neckstrap and then on gigs you can use your standard neckstrap. I have received many comments regarding the look and for the amount of pressure that is alleviated off my shoulders is well worth the look.
I will check out the free neck alcantara.
June 14, 2013 @ 2:20 am
The saxholder is easy to use and space saving. Better than anything I tried before. I’m also using this with my baritone.
June 11, 2014 @ 8:50 pm
I’m a Bari player, I stand up mostly, unless it’s a small low key gig, and my horn is heavy. I use a shoulder sling that my grandpa made for me like 16 years ago. I have to say that this thing does not look very accommodating for baritone sax players, it just looks very unsafe for your back and your horn. I’ll stick to my diy strap
January 29, 2017 @ 9:01 pm
I have been playing Bari for a number of years and getting more and more back pain, especially after a long gig.
So rather than try and reinvent the sling I went for a method that supports the sax by transferring the weigh directly to the ground.
The SaxSupport is a simple, easy to assemble, inexpensive solution to this problem.
For more information please refer to http://www.saxsupport.com.au or email me direct firstname.lastname@example.org