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
Comparison Criteria for Neck Straps
Does it work with all size saxophones?
Just Joes: Yes, but tenor and bari are very heavy on the neck.
Balam: Kinda, best on tenor and bari.
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?
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.