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While saxophone neck straps aren’t going to improve your tone or technique, the right one may save you from a whole host of problems, including some serious health issues further down the line. In this article, we’ll look at five of the best neck straps for saxophone, suitable for most players and instruments. 

A neck strap is a support for the saxophone. Most saxophones (i.e. the soprano, baritone and tenor saxophone) are made of brass and are much heavier than most other woodwind instruments.

In order to relieve strain on the hands, elbows and wrists, we support the saxophone from a loop built in the body of the saxophone, usually around the neck, with padding to ensure comfort.

However, with so many saxophone neck straps to choose from, it can get a little daunting. Players at risk of back problems may not be suited to long term pressure on the neck, but luckily there are alternatives that will suit these players that we will go over in this article.

A sax strap is often one of the most neglected accessories for the instrument, but it’s worth spending that extra time making sure you find the right one for you.

While instruments, reeds, mouthpieces and even cases may get a little more attention than straps, there’s a whole range to choose from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, which may suit different people.

You most likely had one arrive with the saxophone you bought, but often these are cheaply made, unpadded neck straps there to fulfil a legal obligation, rather than a genuinely reliable and comfortable piece of kit for long term use.

None of us want to ever undergo the feeling of a failed neckstrap that can seriously damage your horn, so above all, reliability is key.

After all, a lot of time is going to be spent wearing it, with a fair amount of weight to some saxophones, especially the baritone.

So, without further ado here’s our top five list of saxophone neck straps that you should consider once your current one starts to show wear, or is noticeably causing you discomfort.

But, before we jump into the nitty-gritty of what to look for in a saxophone neck strap, here’s our top pick.

 

Top Pick – Neotech Classic Strap

 

The Neotech Classic Strap is one of the popular saxophone neck straps on the market and for good reason. It’s durable, reliable and long-lasting; exactly what most saxophonists look for in a neck strap!

 

What to look for in a neck strap?

 

Your neck strap is ultimately one of the most important tools in your arsenal.

A faulty neck strap due to poor design or build quality can have disastrous results and cost you some pretty hefty repair bills. As a result, your number one focus should be build quality and strength, particularly at connecting joints.

 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, and more importantly, things to avoid, to make sure that whatever saxophone neck strap you choose is suitable for you.

 

Do the joints and connections of the neckstrap look durable and well built?

Do you have any health conditions that you may need to take into account? (Neck pain, lower back problems)

Where is the weight of the sax distributed? Avoid neck straps that rest on the higher part of the neck, or on one shoulder.

Which hook is best for you? Open hooks are best for players who need to switch instruments quickly, but a closable clasp may be best for players who prefer the peace of mind and don’t need to switch instruments.

Material of hook? Some vintage saxophones have harder metal strap rings that can wear over time. You may need to avoid metal or harder material hook materials.

How does it look? If you feel a little silly wearing it, that will translate into your performance.

If you can try some out, how does it feel? A good neck strap should bring the saxophone to your mouth without the need to stretch.

Without padding, it could irritate your neck. If you feel it’s pulling your neck forward, or if you feel discomfort on the joints of your thumbs, this can cause health issues and should be avoided.

 

Just Joe’s Saxophone Strap

 

These handmade German saxophone straps follow the traditional minimal design of a neckstrap, but without the traditional setbacks.

Suitable for alto saxophone and tenor saxophone, the leather neck strap offers a great deal of comfort, and is built wider than most straps to distribute weight over a wider area.

The key innovation with this sax strap is the gel inserts on either side of the strap, designed to fit either side of the spine.

So, despite still distributing the weight of the saxophone largely across the neck, the spine itself is completely avoided, which makes both a very comfortable fit and a reduced chance of any health problems arising.

The hook itself is fully customisable from Nylon fibre plastic, unfinished brass, thermoplastic coated metal, or 24k plated.

However, it may be difficult to source depending on where you live as distribution is reasonably limited. The nylon fiber plastic and 24k plated are standard options that are much easier to source.

There is also a deluxe version featuring Elk leather and Gold-plated Brass hook and slider, but these may not be suitable for some types of saxophone.

 

Protec LC305M Neck Strap

 

The Protec LC305M Neck Strap may be on the cheaper side, but the build quality and attention to detail certainly don’t feel that way. Established in 1969, Protec made sure to collaborate with professional musicians to provide quality products, and it is clear that still continues to this day.

The Leather neck padding is very comfortable and stylish, and usually reserved for pricier neck straps. It must be noted that on sweatier gigs, it’s possible that the leather may stain clothes, so while you shouldn’t necessarily be put off, this should be kept in mind.

The closed hook provides that added security and so is much more suited to players that move around or want that extra peace of mind.

A metal hook wouldn’t usually be recommended but is a nice addition to a product of this price. The metal hook is covered with a plastic tubing, so you have all the build quality and durability of a metal clasp, without the potential damage to your horn. This is a classic example of how much thought has gone into the design of this neck strap, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The metal spacer bar is a wonderful addition to a saxophone neck strap such as this. The Tri-point metal spacer bar is for maximum comfort, and reduces any form of clamping around the neck, keeping your airways free and relaxed, and without putting pressure on the sides of your neck.

It’s worth noting that the LC305 is made primarily for Tenor and Baritone Saxophone. For Alto and Soprano, Protec offers the LC310M, which is the same product in a different size.

If you play both tenor and alto, you may want to avoid this strap as depending on your size, you may need two different neck straps for the instrument.

 

Balam Leather Saxophone Neck Straps

 

The Balam Straps come in a few different models with slightly different price points.

The Standard is a more entry-level price, with synthetic leather.

The Classic features full grain leather, and comes with a velvet travel bag.

The premium incorporates 4mm of foam padding underneath the alimumium bars, the slider contains an optional locking mechaninsm, and features premium leather.

When you first receive the Balam Strap it can be a little overwhelming. It will take a little adjustment over time by bending the aluminium bars, the core of the shoulder rests, into place.

However, once set up correctly, the Balam Strap is by far one of the most comfortable straps on the market.

If switching between alto and tenor it can rest a little uncomfortably high, however we’re sure you’ll be able to find a happy medium between the two with a little adjustment.

It isn’t recommended if you need to switch between all four of the main types of saxophone, and is not able to be used with a curved soprano.

The “string” the Balam uses is actually paracord, and the build quality is among the best we’ve seen of all straps, featuring lightweight aluminium on the shoulder straps, paracord that connects around the back and through the wide metal spacer, leading to a metal fully closed hook.

The hook is coated with plastic to avoid any damage to your saxophone, and so is fully compatible with vintage saxophones.

When viewing the Balam strap separately it can look a little bulky, but once worn, looks minimal, stylish, and the metal spacer bar and hooks look especially stylish, particularly when coupled with a vintage finish or unlacquered saxophone.

Despite the high price tag and an admittedly fiddly setup, this strap remains our favourite, tying together the comfort of a harness, with the ease and aesthetics of a neckstrap.

 

Neotech Classic Strap

 

Neotech is a brand well known for making top quality products. Their classic sax strap is the best seller in the range and with good reason.

The strap sits at the lower part of the neck and is comfortable. The neoprene allows a slight stretch, not enough to jeopardise your playing or allow too much movement in the height of the saxophone, but enough to stop any form of sudden jerking effects from the saxophone.

The design is durable and long lasting, with a plastic hook suitable for more vintage saxophones.

If you’re swapping instruments quickly such as in a musical theatre environment or teaching, these types of hooks aren’t necessarily recommended, but they provide a much greater peace of mind over open hooks.

If you intend to be moving around quite a bit while playing, or staying with the same instrument for any length of time, there is no chance the saxophone will become unhooked, and the hard plastic won’t wear out your strap hook ring.

The Neoprene itself isn’t machine washable, but is remarkably easier to wash than other neck straps. This may not sound important, but if you suffer from acne around your neck, this should definitely be taken into account. Simply cold wash with laundry detergent by hand and air dry.

Without a spacer bar, this neck strap can come in a little at the front of the neck, but not enough to cause discomfort. In fact, this may make it more suitable for players who tend to play seated.

 

Jazz Lab SAXHOLDER Saxophone Harness

 

The Jazz Lab Saxholder Harness may look unusual, but innovative products such as these usually do.

A traditional neck strap transfers the whole weight of the instrument to the neck. This can cause health problems, and neck pain.

The Saxholder isn’t as bulky as traditional harnesses, but performs a similar function, with the main weight of the instrument resting on the shoulders rather than the neck. The shoulder handles are padded for extra comfort and is assisted for the abdominal rest.

Build quality is very good, made with lightweight aluminium and Kevlar, and is developed for both men and women.

While standing, this strap takes a huge amount of weight off the saxophone. If you’re playing a heavier sax like a cannonball big bell or a silver-plated sax, then this can really help.

The hook is made from metal but has a plastic coating to protect your saxophone. A hybrid of the two hook designs, it is able to release quickly, but has a greatly reduced chance of unhooking the saxophone accidentally.

In terms of looks, it can look a little strange. Full Harnesses or slings can often detract from a performance. For performances that require a suit or dress, these types of straps can be uncomfortable and crease up your clothes in all sorts of ways.

This strap does avoid those pitfalls fortunately, but certainly detracts a lot more than a traditional neck strap.

While not compatible with curved Sopranos, this type of weight management is unlikely to be necessary with curved sopranos.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Thanks for reading our rundown of the top five saxophone neck straps. Have we missed any of your favourite neck straps? Let us know in the comments.

If you’re looking for a saxophone to hang from your new neck strap, check out our guide to the best saxophones and saxophone accessories for jazz, or take a look at our top ten saxophone brands from across the world.

Discover Jazz
Discover Jazz

The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!