You are going to love the collection of gimmicky sax gadgets we have for you in this video.
Some are silly, some are surprisingly useful and some are just awesome.
Reed Renew is a product that is supposed to extend the life of my reed. They claim it will last at least 3 times longer with this treatment.
I’m supposed to apply this after playing and then put it away in my reed case. I’ve got a nice reed here, that is about a week old. Let’s apply this serum and check back later to see if it does anything.
I saw this thing on the internet and had to buy it. It’s a lyre for your phone.
If you never played in marching band, you may not even be aware that your saxophone probably has a lyre holder that’s meant to hold a flip folder of sheetmusic. Since so many people are using phones to read from now, why not. This thing works, but it’s got a couple issues.
First of all, the music is really small on the screen, so if you’re trying to read music, you have to have really good eyesight. Second, you can only fit a few lines of music on the screen, so you’re gonna have to be scrolling all the time. Third thing is, it’s a little bit wobbly, but I gotta say, it holds the phone really sturdy. If you’re moving around, it’s not going to be holding the music that steady, so this thing I’m gonna give like a 5 out of 10.
Now after a long playing session, your saxophone is going to have a lot of moisture on the inside. This is not spit but condensation. Hot air from your breath comes into contact with cold metal and water vapor is the result.
I tell everyone that they must swab out their saxophone body, neck and mouthpiece after every playing session as the minimum maintenance. I put a link to our ultimate swab kit in the description. This is a no brainer, the small investment in that swab kit will pay for itself many times over by saving you money at the repair shop and increased resale value of your instrument.
Then someone who uses our swab kit told me they also use this gadget, the Horn Blower. Great name.
The Horn Blower, is meant to remove any extra moisture left behind after swabbing for those who really want their saxophone to be dry. Tried it out, and this thing kind of “blows”. I’m going to give it a 3 out of 10.
New Course: Melodic Etudes
I want to let you know that I’ve just released my latest BetterSax course Melodic Etudes, where I took a collection of everyone’s favorite standards like Fly Me to the Moon, Someday My Prince Will Come and On the Sunny Side of the Street, and carefully composed some well-crafted solos that sound like something I might improvise. Then in video lessons I walk you through exactly what I’m thinking in each bar, breaking down the process of improvising over chord changes into something a lot less mysterious. Not only will you have a fun collection of etudes to play but you’ll learn the concepts and tricks that will allow you to build your own effective solos that sound great.
For a limited time we are offering a discount for the initial launch, click the link in the description to learn more. And a big thank you to all the BetterSax subscribers who have purchased the courses over the years. Your support of our work is what allows us to keep making videos like this one week after week.
Now back to the gadgets…
The first time I heard about the Sax Seat, I said, no friggin’ way. A seat just for playing the saxophone. Like, I already have a bunch of those, I call them chairs. I really am the most skeptical saxophone player when it comes to these things.
But, the makers of the sax seat reached out to me after seeing my last Gimmicky Sax Gadgets video and they explained that this is actually a seat that holds the saxophone for the player so you don’t need a neck strap. So for me the sax seat went from “this has to be a joke”, to “wow, that’s a pretty genius idea”.
It’s basically a normal heavy duty stool that you might use in any creative studio. You can regulate the height by turning the seat, It has an adjustable back support, but here is where it gets interesting. The Sax Seat has a very sturdy adjustable arm that extends from the center with a cute little seat for the saxophone. Once you get it set up just the way you want it for your particular posture and playing angle, it doesn’t budge.
I’ve mainly used this to play bari sax and it really works well. I’m not supporting any of the weight of the instrument with my back or neck so I can play for hours. You can also use this for other saxophones though like tenor and even alto.
Lots of people have back, neck and shoulder issues that make using any kind of neck strap uncomfortable or even painful. The one criticism I have of this thing is that the seat itself could be more comfortable for long sitting sessions. After an hour or so, I started to get a bit sore.
But, then I realized you can just order the sax support arm and it has a universal clamp that can attach to a lot of different chairs. My favorite seat for playing the sax, is this K&M stool. It is super sturdy, folds up and now I’ve got the sax seat support attached to it for playing bari sax and it’s awesome.
So I give the sax seat itself a 7, but the arm I give a 9 out of 10.
Now speaking of holding my sax, here’s a new saxophone harness unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s called the Bolero and is made by Brancher in France.
It’s meant to provide an elegant look to saxophone players in performances. I’m someone who just can’t use a traditional neckstrap for very long before my neck and back start to hurt and I really hate the way just about every ergonomic sax harness looks. With the Bolero on, I can put a jacket over the top and it’s nearly invisible. It actually looks pretty cool.
It is really well made out of high quality materials, and the clasps are super strong. If you get one of these, you’re going to want it to fit snug. If it’s too big, the material bunches up. I’m wearing the medium here and as you can see the large would not look as good with a jacket over the top.
My one issue with the Bolero is that it holds the saxophone quite close to the body which is not where I’m used to holding it. You can adjust where you attach it here and after trying all the possibilities, I settled on this one in the middle which is the best for me. Sill not as comfortable as I’d like in terms of where the sax is in relation to my body, but it does not put any strain on my neck or back.
If I’m seated, there’s no problem. So I would very strongly recommend this for anyone that plays concerts seated and wants an elegant look. If you’re playing standing up you may need to get used to the more restrictive position. I’m still going to use this next time I’m doing a black and white dress code sort of gig.
I’m giving the Bolero a 7 out of 10. It solves a problem, is high quality but it’s a little restrictive of the saxophone position.
The sax harness I’ve been using most of the time for the past several years is this Saxholder which looks extremely gimmicky. While it’s not perfect either, it does a really good job of relieving back and neck pressure. It too took a while to get used to since it holds the sax further out from the body. This may be partly why the Bolero feels a bit too close for me.
Biggest complaint with the SaxHolder is that it looks so bad. I think the best solution for most people would be to have something that is comfortable but may look bad for practicing, and then another strap that looks better but may be less comfortable for performances.
I’m giving the SaxHolder an 9 out of 10 mainly because the price is so accessible.
Key Leaves Thumb Rest
Speaking of comfort, there’s a new gimmicky sax gadget from Key Leaves which is meant to make the right hand thumb hook more comfortable. If you’re playing with good posture and body position, you should not even be using this hook to support the saxophone at all. We don’t want any weight of the instrument held up by the right thumb.
So why is it even there? I know some saxophone players like to adjust the thumb hook by turning it to one side or another to accommodate the size of their hand. Some others ask their repair technician to move the location of the thumb hook to better suit their hand position.
This thing is meant to replace the thumb hook and offer a larger surface area for your thumb. I would say if you feel really comfortable on your saxophone you probably don’t need one of these, but if you have a horn that the right hand thumb rest feels uncomfortable, this could be worth trying out. They offer this wood version for only $2 so it’s pretty low risk.
I’m gonna give this a 7 out of 10.
Key Leaves Palm Key Removal Kit
This Palm Key Removal Kit includes one of these thumb rest gadgets. The idea behind this kit is that young players starting out have hands that are usually too small to reach around the palm keys. Since we don’t normally even use those keys in the first year of playing the saxophone, why not just remove them temporarily to make the early stage of learning easier and a lot less frustrating.
I think this is a brilliant idea. Let’s remove the palm keys from this BetterSax alto, and then I have the perfect test subject. My 7 year old daughter Carly who is very excited to appear on the YouTube channel. She has never played the saxophone before.
The kit contains everything you need, screw drivers, to remove the screws, storage bags for the keys so you can find them later. Wipes to clean the tone holes, and these adhesive caps to make an airtight and water proof seal.
This invention is brilliant. It only costs about $25 which makes it a great investment for anyone who wants to help a young saxophone player get off to an easier start. In my experience teaching saxophone to young players with small hands, those palm keys are a source of constant frustration and often the kids create their own work arounds to avoid the palm keys which are examples of really bad hand position that need to be corrected later.
I’m giving this product a 10 out of 10 for value, design and utility. Great job on this one.
Reed Renew Results
Now let’s check back to my reed from yesterday that was treated with the Reed Renew. I’ve been using the Reed Renew on this exact reed every day for five days, practiced on it for at least an hour each day, and applied the Reed Renew every time. This is one of those products where, if it’s working, how can you tell? It’s supposed to make the reed last longer.