I have seen new accessories hitting the market to address or improve upon specific areas on the saxophone that are seen to be lacking resonance or feel not as comfortable when playing. Some of these after-market accessories are neck screws, thumb rests, necks, and thumb hooks just to name a few. The thumb hook in particular is getting more and more buzz around it. At first, I thought what could a thumb hook possibly add or do to the saxophone besides adding additional comfort or aesthetic. I recently received 2 thumb hooks from Tino Schucht who is known for his after-market necks that are based on the Balanced Action, Super Balanced Action, and Mark VI necks. I will be giving you an overview of the Tino Schucht Dirty Punch and Gentle Touch Thumb hooks as well as provide my review and overall thoughts.
According to Tino, his Dirty Punch model “produces a dirty, rough and explosive sound with a very good response, core and dynamics levels suitable for any music style. This thumb hook is designed for Selmer, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, and Yamaha saxophones thumb hooks across the saxophone family (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone). The thumb hook is made out of brass that has been untreated which gives it an old or vintage finish. Each thumb hook is polished and comes either in brass, silver plated, or gold plated.
According to Tino, his Gentle Touch model “produces a smooth, dark, warm and deep sound with a very good response, core and dynamics levels suitable for any music style. This thumb hook is designed for Selmer, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, and Yamaha saxophones across the saxophone family (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone). The thumb hook is made out of brass that has been untreated which gives it an old or vintage finish. Each thumb hook is polished and comes either in brass, silver plated, or gold plated.
I compared the Dirty Punch and Gentle Touch to the standard metal thumb hook on a Lupifaro Platinum tenor. I first started with the Gentle Touch and noticed that sonically the sound was less edgy and more mellow with clean clarity and projection. I found the standard metal thumb hook to resonant more but the Gentle Touch per Tino’s description did offer a mellower tone when sub-toning and playing softly which was noticeable with the Gentle Touch. When I tried the Dirty Punch in comparison to the standard metal thumb hook and Gentle Touch, I noticed the sound was edgier, darker, and fuller as well as the response was more immediate with less air. From a comfort-ability standpoint, I found the Tino Schucht Gentle Touch and Dirty Punch to be a more comfortable and both were easy to take on/off and adjust.
Per David Liebman ” Tino has for years been experimenting with the effect of thumb rests on the sound and to be honest there IS a difference using his hooks. You have to try it because it wouldn’t seem on paper to make a difference but it definitely helps the sound.” Besides mouthpieces, saxophones, ligatures, and reeds, I do not experiment much with thumb hooks. I did find that both the Dirty Punch and Gentle Touch Tino Schucht thumb hooks were very comfortable and made a difference in the sound. Sonically, I did notice a difference between the Dirty Punch, Gentle Touch and standard thumb hook for how the horn sounded and responded throughout. I know many of you think the thumb hook is there for you to simply rest you right thumb and I initially would agree, but since trying the Tino’s thumb hooks, I was pleasantly surprised by how they had an impact on the sound. Now, please keep in mind, I believe the results for this thumb hook is dependent on your current setup so every player will have a different re-action to the effect’s of Tino’s thumb hooks, which I believe will be positive. I highly recommend you try one to see how your saxophone responds and sounds in comparison to your standard brass or rubber thumb hook. I would like to thank Tino Schucht for sending me his thumb hooks to test play and would greatly appreciate any feedback from those of you that have had a chance to try Tino Schucht’s thumb hooks. I am interested to hear other players results.