Best Saxophone Neck Strap Review in 2018
Ask professional saxophone players to name the most important part of their instrument and expect diverse responses. Some believe the mouthpiece to be the heart of a sax while others insist that without those keys, audiences would hear something akin to a fog horn! All agree that without a hook to secure their saxophone neck strap in place, it could be a struggle to perform, thus it’s the saxophone neck strap that earns universal consensus. Fortunately, there are so many comfortable, attractive, affordable saxophone straps on the 2017 market, it could take time for you to choose just one.
What makes a good Saxophone neck strap?
Your instrument is unique. You’re unique. Your decision to choose one sax strap over another should be based on those principles. Your body should be a first consideration. The size and weight of your instrument a second factor. Price and material? Seriously—can you put a price on comfort? Not if you play your instrument a lot and don’t want to leave a stage or rehearsal room doubled over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The objective of a saxophone neck strap is fairly simple: distribute the instrument’s weight evenly, using your neck to do the job, so there’s less strain on your neck and back and your sax actually feels lighter in your hands as a result. If you play alto or tenor sax, you may dismiss the toll an inadequate strap can take on your body as being unimportant, but if your instrument belongs to the bass family, this is no irrelevant matter.
Truth be told, damage can be done to your body in such subtle ways, you may not know that your posture is deteriorating, the nerves in your neck are being damaged or, more dramatically, the discs in your spine are being compressed. Have we convinced you of the merits of finding and wearing the right saxophone neck strap?
How to shop for a saxophone neck strap
Take time to watch this short video before you shop. Pay attention to the diversity in material thickness you find as you consider straps: some straps are thin and slim; others thickly padded. Many have clasps rather than hooks.
Many types of neck straps are engineered to distribute weight so it rests on the shoulders rather than the neck. If you opt for one of these, you stand to benefit from decreased strain and more airflow to your neck, so if you’re a heavy sweater when you play, this can be advantageous. Materials? Take your pick. Rubber. Plastic. Cloth. Combinations of two or more.
What’s the latest trend in neck straps for sax players? Harnesses. They do an amazing job of eliminating neck weight, so you may not mind design deviations like straps that fasten to your pant belt loops. Whichever strap you pick, keep in mind the growing controversy over the use of stretchy materials because long-term wear can alter the fit and you might not even realize it.
Ready to buy?
After trying on as many saxophone neck strap designs as you can get your hands on, it’s time to have someone who knows what they’re doing measure you so you get the length right. If your neck strap is too low, your body will try to compensate, causing your head and neck to “point down” thereby disrupting your airflow. This head droop can trigger throat strain that’s so uncomfortable, you may catch yourself supporting the weight of your instrument with your thumb to compensate.
But what if you choose a neck strap that’s too short? This situation can alter the angle and feel of the mouthpiece in your mouth so you wind up straining to perform and could experience serious tone issues resulting from a too-short sax strap. Further, weight on your neck—-especially if you play a larger sax—-may render you incapable of focusing on the music because you're so uncomfortable, so what’s the point? Because strap length is such a critical feature, more and more manufacturers are producing adjustable neck straps to eliminate such issues.
Five Best Saxophone Neck Strap Products
The Jazzlab Saxholder Harness
This product gets five star reviews from veteran and neophyte sax players alike. This strap features handles that hang over shoulders and a pad that rests against the stomach. Invented by a musician fed up with feeling like a 100-year-old man, his strap attracted the attention of medical practitioners with whom he consulted before he brought his neck strap to market. Shoulder features are crafted of aluminum and adjust easily using a telescoping slider.
Will it take time to become accustomed to wearing a harness-type neck strap positioned at stomach level? If you’re a new sax player, probably not, but if you’ve been playing a long time, this strap style may take getting used to. Remember that physics is physics: the weight of your sax must go somewhere if not your neck and shoulders. Choose a harness like the Jazzlab Saxholder and pressure is more evenly distributed, neck and back pain is relieved and even breathing from the diaphragm improves.
BG S40SH Harness Strap for Alto/Tenor/Baritone Saxophone
When nearly 90-percent of strap shoppers swear they’ve never enjoyed such comfort at such a low price, the deal can sound too good to be true. But the BG S40SH is a deceivingly simple design that has saved many a saxophone player from having to put a chiropractor on speed dial. For older musicians battling long studio sessions, this leather and cloth strap gets the approval of the over-60 crowd, but that doesn’t mean young musicians won’t benefit early in the game.
While designed for men, women buy the BG S40SH Harness Strap for Alto/Tenor/Baritone Saxophone, despite the fact that this brand makes versions specifically for women. One of the biggest benefits of this strap is that it provides uniform back and neck relief while sitting and standing. There are plenty of independent comments from sax players who swear they enjoy more freedom of movement and a less-restrictions wearing the BG S40SH sax neck strap.
Neotech 1901162 Soft Sax Strap - Swivel Hook
When a saxophone strap elicits over 645 opinions on top music evaluation websites you might expect a balance of raves and complaints, but in fact, a preponderance of Neotech 1901162 Soft Sax Strap-Swivel Hook buyers say it’s the best bang you can get for your buck.
This strap lays claim to virtues extolled by competitors: reduced neck and shoulder pressure. But this Neotech has been proven to remain stable and in a musician’s full control under a variety of conditions. The comfort-stretch backing includes neoprene, but unlike straps made of 100-percent stretch material, this strap won’t stretch out and require replacement.
According to the Soft Sax Strap design team, one of their objectives was “making the instrument feel 50-percent lighter” and 100-percent more comfortable. Goal achieved on both counts say fans of the brand and the strap. Order yours in three sizes: Regular loop; junior; extra-long loop. By the way, this strap works nicely with other instruments, like English horns, oboes, bassoons and bass clarinets.
Protec NLS310HP 22-Inch Ballistic Neoprene Less-Stress Saxophone Neck Strap w/Coated Metal Hook
This neck strap stands up to more expensive competitors by offering features musicians crave: Water-resistant “ballistic” neoprene material provides musicians with the comfort of separate left and right neck pads designed to relieve spine pressure. Soft-ridge padding won’t stretch out or bounce. This Protec strap offers wearers a 4-inch adjustment spread extending from strap to hook and this rig measures 2.25-inches at the widest point for extra security.
Little touches can make a difference: The snap on this accessory swivels for ease of attachment and because the unit’s snap features a strong metal trigger that’s rubber coated, it can cut down on eyelet wear so it remains functional longer than uncoated fasteners on the market. Musicians can look forward to plenty of wear and tear if they opt for this 22-inch saxophone neck strap.
Rico Saxophone Strap, Alto/Soprano, Jazz Wave
This brand’s pedigree may add spice to your decision to buy: A global leader in music accessories, Rico collaborates with scientists to produce ergonomic products that offer longevity and performance standards that are particularly appreciated by alto and soprano saxophone owners.
The Rico strap holds the instrument tenaciously through long performances, and when it’s time to release the sax, it’s doubly easy to disengage. Rico’s “quickadjust” button dispenses the right strap length for your body because easy-glide cord is less cumbersome than standard webbing.
While it’s available in no-frills black for sax players who don’t consider themselves showboats, five patterns may strike your fancy so you get efficiency and longevity with the flair you seek at a price even a school-age musician on an allowance can afford.
While we’re favorably disposed to recommend all five sax neck straps to readers after culling a field of dozens, our favorite is the Jazzlab Saxholder Harness. Yes, it’s the priciest neck strap on our list, but given its many attributes, sax players would be foolish to go elsewhere when chiropractors, seniors and even kids just learning their instruments find extreme comfort and the ability to get in and out of this rig in a New York minute.
Health benefits include improved breathing, less muscle strain, fewer aches and pains and while the dog-lead type catch isn’t beloved by everyone, it’s an innovation you may come to appreciate once you get the hang of it. Is this harness ready for a fashion runway? Not exactly. But if you’re sick and tired of leaving your gigs in a world of pain and discomfort and would like to know how it feels to perform in a perpetual state of bliss, you owe it to yourself to check out the Jazzlab Harness.