3 BEST Saxophone Neck Straps for Your Comfort

We talk a lot about horns, mouthpieces and reeds, but perhaps the most important saxophone accessory are our neck straps.

Today I’m going to compare my favorite neck straps for saxophone and go over what I like and don’t like about each one

The Plain Ole’ Neck Strap

We all start out with the standard plain neck strap, which does the job.

However, it’s not comfortable. I cannot wear one like this anymore, and it actually hurts to watch other sax players using a strap like this.

Besides not being comfortable, it puts a lot of pressure on your spine which can’t be good, and it also presses on the sides of your neck where all the blood is flowing to your brain. I’m not a doctor, but that’s probably not ideal.

About 15 years ago, I began noticing some discomfort when playing saxophone for extended periods of time and started trying alternatives to the traditional strap. I’ve gone through a lot of neck straps over the years, but recently there’s been several products that have attempted to address the poor design of saxophone neckstraps and relieve our neck and back pains.

I can’t cover every neck strap out there, so for this video I’ve chosen 3 popular favorites

  1. Balam
  2. SaxHolder
  3. Just Joe’s

Comparison Criteria for Neck Straps

Does it work with all size saxophones?

Saxholder: Yes.

Just Joes: Yes, but tenor and bari are very heavy on the neck.

Balam: Kinda, best on tenor and bari.

The Hook 

Saxholder has an open hook. 

Just Joe’s gives you the choice.

Balam is closed metal with an added rubber thingy.

Does it Look Good?

I think the Balam probably looks the best. I like that all three of these straps are basically all black. Of course if you’re wearing black, the strap becomes a lot less visible, but that’s not always an option.

Do the Strings & Adjustment Slides Get Tangled?

Saxholder can get tangled, but adjusts nicely and stays put.

Just Joe’s does not get tangled, stays well put and adjusts nicely.

Balam has a lot of cords and extra bits hangin off it. It doesn’t slip much, and it adjusts nicely.

Does My Neck or Back Hurt?

Saxholder is best, followed closely by Balam. I can play for hours with either one of these. For Just Joe’s, I would only use with my alto and soprano.

Can I Play Sitting on Tenor and Baritone?

This is an issue mainly for tenor and baritone. I would rather play with the Balam strap sitting down. You do feel a bit of a pull on the left shoulder, but with the Saxholder it is not well suited to playing with the sax off to the side. 

Does it Fit in My Case?

The Saxholder has to go in the bell of my horn, so if that space is already taken by your neck you may be in trouble. The Balam strap and the Just Joe’s will fit in my accessories pouch. If you have very limited space, the Balam strap comes with a cloth bag if you have to put it in the bell. But really, who wants to do that?

Prices for Neck Straps

The Saxholder is definitely the best value I’d say. It sells for about $44 on amazon.

The Just Joe’s strap sells for $79. You get to choose from a variety of lengths and also a standard hook or the more secure clasp.

The Balam back strap comes in a few different versions. The one I have here is the premium and sells for $112. The “classic” version sells for $92. The main difference between the 2 is that the premium has some extra padding underneath.

In case you were wondering, I paid for all of these myself, and I’m making this video completely independently of these three companies. No one paid me anything to tell you about them. I have all three, and use each of them for different situations. 

Some of these criteria may not be a factor for you so I’m not going to choose a best neck strap. I think each of these could be the best one for you depending on your needs and particular situation.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever used any of these neck straps.

You can find more videos and reviews on my favorite accessories here and check out “3 Best Accessories in My Case.

Also be sure to follow BetterSax on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube to stay up to date with us for news, giveaways, and other saxophone tips and tricks.

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9 Comments

John says:

Thank you for this video. Jay, the one thing that you didn’t go into great detail is slippage. You mentioned that the Balam may slip, but what about the other two?
Thank you!

Jay Metcalf says:

John, the other 2 don’t slip. Especially the SaxHolder, once it is set, it stays in place.

Sarah says:

Just wondering if anyone out there has got the Boston sax shop’s Newbury St Deluxe and I’d so whether you think it will adjust high enough for a curved soprano.
Thankyou.

Mike says:

Thinking about the Balam for my tenor, but wondering about the HOOKi strap….anyone tried it?

Jay Metcalf says:

I have one of those but don’t recommend it. It’s impossible to put in your case making it impractical for most users.

Paola says:

John. What strap do you think it’s best for marching band for an Alto and Soprano Sax?

Ben says:

I’ve been using the Balam standard back strap for 2 years and was happy with it. But while I was practising today, the cord that holds the spreader located above the hook broke without warning where it attaches to the left aluminum shoulder piece. Fortunately, I was holding my tenor saxophone at the time or it would have fallen to the floor and been damaged. After 2 years of daily use, the strap cord shows slight signs of fraying where it passes through the spreader holes, but where the cord broke is hidden by a ferrule, so I couldn’t see that it had frayed through. Users should check the cord periodically for wear and be aware the cord may need to be replaced after a couple of years.

Claude says:

Heads Up, 221207: Our son just experienced Balam neck strap cast metal hook failure at a jazz workshop last weekend with an essentially new Yamaha YBS-62 baritone hitting the floor. Bell and front bow damage. Contacted the well-established shop who sold us the strap, they contacted their Balam representative who apparently sent new hooks to replace on the straps in inventory. The shop has sold thousands of these straps and historically this is a rare issue, but if using this strap, and it was manufactured recently, check out (or replace) your clip… This was a premium Balam purchased in March 2022. No help with the costs of repairing this instrument offered from Balam at this point…

Anne atkinson says:

Hi
Can you tell me if the just joe standard neck strap is adjustable please?

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