Chief of Stuff
But that's not all. Only part of the weight is displaced on to your shoulders because there is a pad lower down which rests against your stomach, so much of the weight is also distributed down there. "Is that a good thing?" I hear you ask. I shall answer that in a little while.
I first saw the Saxholder at this year's Musikmesse trade show in the saxophone hall. I had already met the inventor, Silvin Jancic, when he showed me his mouthpiece silencer the previous year. The Saxholder looked intriguing and as soon as I tried it on I breathed a sigh of relief as I no longer felt the weight on my poor old neck (I have a very heavy bronze and solid silver tenor saxophone to walk around with at those shows). However, the lower pad (the "abdominal rest") very quickly started to drift to the left as it slid across my stomach. And before you start commenting, it was nothing to do with the size of my stomach, it was just a bit too slippery. I mentioned this to Silvin, who said that he would work on that. Well, I'm happy to say the Saxholder I tried recently has had that issue addressed, and it stays put right there in the middle of your stomach.
What the medical expert says:
Osteopath Chris Galloway was most impressed with the saxholder, saying that it alleviated pressure on the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck (which can restrict rotation) and the brachial plexus. He advised widening the shoulder arms so that the pressure was more on the trapezius muscles.
He also cautioned that the abdomen cushion would be better if it was wider and so spread the load (I totally agree with this) and to be careful not to put pressure directly on the diaphragm (just below the ribcage)
So what do I think now that it actually works properly for me? Well, it's not often I get excited about a saxophone accessory, but I have to say that this is something that totally and utterly astonishes me with its innovative answer to saxophone players' neck problems. I will probably use this as my main (almost said " neckstrap" then) saxophone holder.
Do you need different sizes?
No, it's adjustable. The shoulder handles are made from aluminium and can bent to fit comfortably, the angle between the shoulder handles can be adjusted, and the abdominal rest can be positioned by extending the telescopic slider. You can also adjust the length of the cord to suit your instrument. I found that with the default length it was perfect for alto, tenor and baritone, but I would need it just very slightly shorter for my soprano (if I used a strap on a soprano which I don't) or for my Buescher bass (which has a very high straphook ring). Having said that, it felt so comfortable on the bass I was inspired to walk around playing the bass, something I hadn't been previously been inclined to do due to its heaviness.
The Stomach/Abdomen Thing
This is the real innovation. I can imagine people in the past have tried to solve the wight on the neck problem by hanging a saxophone on the shoulders, but that doesn't work by itself as there is too much weight on the shoulders. The pad resting on your stomach takes a lot of this weight off. Is it a good thing to transfer it somewhere else though? In my opinion the answer is a resounding YES!Not only is the weight transferred to somewhere that has no bones or spinal column to interfere with, I think this can actually help by encouraging proper abdominal/diaphragm breathing as it actually encourages you to keep your stomach firm, even if you are well endowed in that area.
Is It Unisex?
Many ladies complain that traditional saxophone harnesses are especially uncomfortable or unflattering because of the way they hang over or around the breast area. The saxholder has no such issues, so is ideal for ladies.
It seems Too Good to be True! What's the catch?
Well, maybe the fact that the hook is a plain hook instead of a doglead type catch is the only real catch (pun intended). Having said that the hook is a nice strong metal one (steel by the look of it) with a plastic cover that has a small protrusion to make it less likely for the saxophone to jump out, it's also longer than many hooks which will also help prevent such disasters.
I would also like to see a larger abdomen rest which would spread the weight more, this would be especially useful for baritone and bass. Other than that, my only tiny criticism is that it looks rather utilitarian, perhaps in the future there will be a deluxe version with leather upholstery and walnut trimmings.A new
Finally, I will be very interested to see how this stands up to further testing. My initial thoughts are very positive, but it is the kind of thing that needs assessment over a period of time. I have currently had a few neck problems, and I would be very interested to see what a medical specialist thinks of this (and the Cebulla), I will update this article when I get some feedback on that. This is a very elegant piece of kit which I thoroughly recommend. Even if you don't have any neck problems, I wouldn't mind betting that this will go a long way to making sure you don't get any in the future.
A new recently introduced model is the Saxholder Pro. If you liked the original Saxholder, you'll probably love this. So what are the main differences between this and the original:
- The covering on the shoulder handles is wider.
- The handles can be locked in place. They lock automatically when in position, and are released by simply pressing a button.
- The handles can be removed. This is done by placing them horizontally, (lining up the arrows) and pulling. They are colour coded red and yellow so can be easily attached the right way round even on dimly lit stages.
- The cord length adjuster locks automatically. A realise button allows you to adjust the length.
- The telescopic slider which adjusts the position of the stomach plate locks into place by rotating the locking device (very simple and intuitive)
- The stomach plate itself is does not rotate through 360 degrees sideways as with the original, but still swivels in a vertical plane (forward or backward) to adjust to the contours of your stomach.
- Overall the rounded profile of the vertical telescopic bar is wider and sturdier looking. The look is more elegant and less utilitarian.
This is a big improvement both cosmetically and in regard to functional and ease of use. It is constructed from high grade, maintenance free materials: aircraft aluminium and kevlar (with stainless steel hook). It works just as well sitting down as standing up, moving around or bending down to pick something up. The original cord adjust was the traditional friction based adjuster common to most straps. Although these work as securely as they need to be, you do wonder that at some stage the it friction will eventually wear out the cord. With the lock/release device there is no significant friction on the cord at all, so it feels great and gives you total peace of mind. The cord is regatta cord with a breaking load of 250kg: perfect for a 6kg low A baritone!
In practice, compared with a traditional saxophone strap, it just feels like your saxophone is less than half the weight. As with the original there is no (aucun, keiner, ingen, ninguno, 没有) weight on your neck. I can now play my bass saxophone standing up for hours...