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Miscellaneous Saxinet review

Nick Wyver

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Minster On Sea
Here it is then – what you've all been waiting for – a review of the Saxinet!

If you've no idea what one is, go and have a look here.

I got the silver one in C, without the mouthpiece that is usually supplied with it (I really don't need any more alto mouthpieces).

It looks a very nicely made simple instrument. Not much to say about that really except, perhaps, that it doesn't look like a toy.

It takes a standard alto sax mouthpiece, the seal on the tenon being effected by PTFE plumber's tape. The fit is quite snug - one of my mouthpieces wouldn't go on at all (standardisation - who needs it, eh?). I ended up using my usual alto set-up - Sakshama Studio G with a Marca Jazz 2.5. Possibly overkill, but it sounded ok. Tuning is by the usual method.

It's a pretty easy blow and, since I'm used to recorder fingerings, I didn't have any trouble getting all the notes (up to D anyway). It may be called a Saxinet but it doesn't sound like either a sax or clarinet. My first thought was, "crumhorn?" or, at least, something vaguely medieval. Really, I suppose, it sounds like a saxinet. It's a pretty short tube so notes can be bent all over the place (or played way out of tune). A little care has to be taken and it would take a little while to get thoroughly comfortable with the tuning. As with many of these simple instruments, cross-fingered notes can be a bit stuffy and require more care with tuning but that's all part of the learning process.

Since it's a cylindrical instrument it overblows a 12th, so there's a gap between the D (you can squeeze out an Eb with all fingers off) and the next G. The upper register notes have the same sort of relationship tonally with the lower ones as the clarinet, ie. somewhat clearer, less "woody". They are also rather difficult to control (the manufacturer admits this) but I shouldn't think it's an insurmountable problem. If you really need to fill the gap the G in the upper register can be quite easily bent down to a D. Doing it in a musical manner would be more tricky though. :) . Half-holing the thumb seemed to help stabilise things.

It's got a pretty good dynamic range. It doesn't exactly roar but you can make a fair bit of noise with it and it can be played down to a whisper.

At great risk to my reputation I've done a few recordings to give you an idea of what it can do with a few minutes practice (I've only had it a couple of days). No auto-tuning has been used on the recordings - that should be obvious when you hear them. I haven't recorded any using the upper register out of respect for your ears.

The first one is a duet with the C soprano that I got last week (more dodgy tuning I'm afraid).

A chromatic scale.

A bit of noodling.

More noodling with a drone.

All in all I rather like it. I've not got much to compare it with apart from an old Xaphoon which I've had for donkey's years and don't play. The Saxinet's fingering is easier and it has a greater dynamic range. It's not really quite pocketable (would a detachable bell be possible or an engineering challenge too far?) but if you want to keep your alto embouchure fresh and you can't fit the sax into your luggage then it's a lot more fun than playing the mouthpiece on its own.

Oh, and if you're ordering it from the UK expect to pay an extra £20 or so for VAT and the Post Office's extortion racket.
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A comparison to the Xaphoon would be most helpful as after the Chalumeau it`s the most common of these "WW Mpc on a recorder" type instruments .
The sound reminds me a bit of the bagpipes, with less of the pain factor. Something slightly medieval, as you said.

A comparison to the Xaphoon would be most helpful as after the Chalumeau it`s the most common of these "WW Mpc on a recorder" type instruments .

I can record something on the xaphoon tomorrow if you're interested. But I've got to say, mine is VERY badly out of tune almost all across the range. Most notes are very sharp (20-40c), and a couple ones are very flat (20-40c again). And the mouthpiece is -extremely- uncomfortable. One of these days I'm going to saw the mouthpiece off and replace it with a tenon that takes an alto or tenor sax mouthpiece. Maybe it'd be playable then.
I had a Xaphoon, I found it Awful to put it politely.. I just thought it would be the ideal comparison so people can get a handle on how good or bad the Saxinet is, the Xaphoon put me off any of these Chalumeau wannabes full stop and realised that the only Backpack Sax is a Proper Sopranino (or a Curved sop if your backpack is big enough)

A chalumeau (or a saxinet) isn't a sax, so why compare them?
neither is a Xaphoon hence the comparison suggestion , especially as they`re both calling themselves Backpack or pocket Saxes .
So they do. I stand corrected.

They're not, though. They're different instruments with their own characteristics. They should be judged on what they are rather than what they are not.
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My point was that they`re aiming for the same market, many will ask "Do I get a Xaphoon or a Saxinet, how do they differ in sound" .
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