In this article we’ve put together some info on 10 saxophone accessories which you might be interested in checking out, plus some recommendations of which brands are best. From more obvious products you probably already own like slings and cases, to less common accessories like saxophone mutes and key leaves.
We’ve already published an article on that very topic, as well one about the setups used by famous jazz musicians.
But, in fact, there are plenty of other items on offer that can help to optimise your playing experience.
So here’s our look at 10 of the best saxophone accessories for 2020. Feel free to let us know your own tips in the comments section at the end.
Here’s a quick overview of our favourite from each of the 10 categories before we dive into the details…
Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.
|Brand||What is it?||Buy|
|BAM Cabine||Saxophone case||Check Price|
|GEWA||Gig bag||Check Price|
|E-Sax Whisper||Saxophone mute||Check price|
|BG A30||Pull-throughs/swabs||Check Price|
|Cordier||Reed cutter||Check Price|
|Hercules DS530B||Sax Stand||Check Price|
|D'Addario Reserve||Mouthpiece patches||Check Price|
|Yani BooStar||Replacement neck screw||Check price|
|Key Leaves||Key Leaves||Check Price|
Most saxophones will arrive with a case when you buy them.
But like the basic mouthpiece that arrives with a brand-new horn, the bulky oblong case that comes as standard with many saxophones is likely to be one of the first things you consider upgrading.
They don’t come cheap though, and it’s worth thinking about what your priorities are…
- Do you need something that will survive daily bashes and bangs?
- Are you looking for a light sax case that can easily be carried around on foot?
- Do you want something as compact as possible that you’re more likely to be able to take on a plane as hand luggage?
- Do you want a saxophone case with lots of pockets and storage space?
Saxophone case manufacturers BAM make some of the most popular cases on the market.
Their Cabine model is about as neat and compact as a hard saxophone case can be. It’s also very light, but this comes at the cost of space: the crook needs to be stored in the instrument’s bell, so there’s no extra space, and if you want to bring a saxophone stand, for example, you’ll need an extra bag.
The Hightech model offers much more space, especially the version with the extra front pocket, but is a little on the heavy side, while the Trekking model is lighter and cheaper, but its softer material may make it a little less indestructible.
UK manufacturer Hiscox makes famously sturdy cases, although they are quite heavy, and the single-shoulder strap may be less comfortable than the rucksack-style straps used by other brands.
Eastman, with their shaped fibreglass cases, are also well-respected, but there are lots of other brands out there and it’s worth doing your research and thinking about what criteria is important to you before making a decision.
- Antishock ABS shell
- Antislip and antiwear rubber patches on...
- 2 comfortable neoprene antislip backpack...
- Side handle
- 3 softouch latches with key
- JW Eastman Alto Saxophone Silver...
Gig bags are saxophone cases made from softer material, making them easier and more comfortable to transport around to gigs, concerts and rehearsals.
As you’d expect, they are lighter and often cheaper than hard cases, but this is likely to come at the cost of protection for your horn.
While the inside of gig bags will typically contain protective padding to shield against minor knocks, a soft case will not fare as well against major incidents in comparison to solid carbon fibre models.
Still, if you are confident in your ability to keep your saxophone out of harm’s way, it may be a trade-off worth making in order to be able to easily and comfortably carry your instrument around town with you.
British brand Tom & Will make affordable soft cases, while Gewa’s products are slightly more contoured. Fusion’s Premium series is a high end kind of hard-case/soft-case hybrid that is specifically designed for the commuting saxophonist.
- Sturdy, very lightweight Compact case....
- High-quality, attached exterior cover....
- Music sheet pocket, mouthpiece pocket,...
- 2 detachable, comfortable rucksack...
- Interior: black velour, exterior: brown
Depending on your living situation and whether you have access to a dedicated playing space, practising the saxophone can sometimes be tricky.
It’s not naturally a quiet instrument, and your neighbours may not appreciate those long tones or overtone exercises.
Brass instruments can use affordable and simple practice mutes, which are placed in the bell and bring the volume right down, but things are a bit more complicated on this front when it comes to the woodwind family, of which the saxophone is a member.
Mutes are a relatively new offering on the saxophone accessory market.
Typically, they look a bit like a saxophone case. Almost the entire horn is enclosed within the mute, with only the mouthpiece protruding. There are holes for the player’s arms to go through, so that his or her fingers can reach the keys.
It certainly looks and feels quite strange, but this should bring the volume down significantly, to around the level of normal conversation.
There is also a headphone jack so that you can hear yourself more clearly.
The E-Sax Whisper Mute is perhaps the most acclaimed model around, while the Saxmute One is a cheaper option, albeit with a slightly smaller reduction in decibel levels.
The sling or strap that that holds the saxophone around your neck may seem insignificant, but it can make a noticeable difference to how comfortable your playing experience is and, as such, is an important saxophone accessory.
The simple, unpadded fabric and plastic sling that arrives in your saxophone case might suit you fine, but you may find that one with some padding feels a lot nicer: Rico make popular and affordable models along these lines.
Some slings look more stylish than others, and there are various aesthetically pleasing options available, like Dave Guardala’s striking leather strap.
Some saxophone players claim that a metal hook aids reverberation and tone quality in comparison to plastic ones, although it’s not clear whether this has been proven by anyone!
Those prone to neck or back pain may like to try a harness-style strap, which aims to distribute the instrument’s weight more evenly.
Vandoren do an ergonomically designed one with stabilising rods and a support belt, although there are simpler and cheaper versions available from BG and Neotech.
- Fits most bass clarinets, English horns,...
- Closed swivel hook design offers added...
- Very strong and durable
- Fully adjustable 17"–21"...
- Made in the USA
- √ HAND MADE & GENUINE LEATHER - This...
- √ NECK PRESSURE RELIEVE PADDING - Made...
- √ PATENTED ADJUSTABLE DESIGN -...
- √ NO SCRATCH TO COLLARBONE -...
- √ ADDITIONAL HANGER RINGS - The 2...
- Shoulder straps are soft and handmade to...
- Instrument cord secures your instrument...
- Stabilizing rods work independently as...
- Support belt centers the load at your...
- Universal fit makes it suitable for any...
These certainly aren’t the most exciting item on this list, but it’s really important to remove as much moisture from your saxophone as possible after each playing session, to keep the instrument healthy and your pads in good shape!
As such, it’s perhaps more of a necessity than a saxophone accessory!
In any case, it’s worth having a big pull-through cleaner for the main body of the instrument, as well as a smaller swab for your saxophone’s neck & mouthpiece.
Most comprise of a cloth with a long cord attached with a weight on the end: the weight is dropped through the saxophone and pulled out of the other end, bringing the cloth and any moisture out with it.
French company BG’s pull-throughs are recommended, although the brand shouldn’t matter too much in this case.
Also on the market are fluffy sticks called Pad Savers, which remain in the body of the saxophone while it is in the case, and ostensibly do a similar job.
However, these have been criticised for keeping moisture inside the saxophone rather than removing it.
- Keeps your instrument in pristine...
- Keeps your instrument in pristine...
Saxophone players are forever complaining about inconsistent reeds.
They can vary hugely even within a single box, so it’s not unusual to end up discarding relatively large numbers of them along the way.
However, one solution to this (aside from plastic reeds) is a reed cutter.
This small metal device trims the ends of reeds, which can remove imperfections in the cane, make soft reeds harder and extend the playing lives of dying reeds.
So if you’re willing to go to the trouble, your reed cutter could soon pay for itself, once you’ve turned a few duds into playable reeds.
Cordier and Pisoni are some of the best-known manufacturers of these saxophone accessories.
- The Cordier features a sharp blade that...
- A precision instrument that can easily...
- Very adjustable and will work with all...
A saxophone stand allows you to leave your instrument stood upright when not in use. This might be on a break during a concert or rehearsal, or whilst switching to another instrument on a doubling gig.
Hercules make solid products, including various options for doubling instrument pegs.
K&M, meanwhile, make an impressive lightweight stand that folds down so that it can be stored inside the saxophone bell.
SAXRAX is another popular option.
- Brand: HERCULES STANDS
- Holds your Alto/Tenor saxophone securely...
- Adjustable backrest accommodates both...
- 2 extra peg holes on the legs lets you...
- Swivel Legs fit around other equipment
- Adjustable with locking screw
- Non-marring plastic material protects...
- Can be transported in the supplied...
- Embedded foot end caps
- Folds for easy transport
These are small plastic patches which stick to the top of the mouthpiece, where the player’s top teeth make contact.
They are used widely, mainly to stop bite marks from appearing over time and spoiling the mouthpiece. They can also make for a more comfortable experience for the saxophonist, as they help to stop the teeth from vibrating too much, which some players find irritating.
There are different levels of thickness available, so you may wish to experiment with different options there, although most advanced players play the clear, thinner patches for a more natural feel.
Popular brands include BG and Vandoren.
If you’re looking for more info on the mouthpiece itself, check out this list of the best mouthpiece models and makes for playing jazz.
- Protects mouthpiece and prevents teeth...
- Suitable for use on clarinet or...
- Each package contains one sheet of 5...
- Available in both black (.80mm...
Replacement neck screws
The science behind how saxophone neck screws work is somewhat mysterious, but a number of products have appeared on the market recently which claim to be able to improve the saxophone’s tone.
One example is replacement neck screws, which typically replace the rarely-used lyre screw, which is adjacent to the neck-adjusting screw on most saxophones.
Yanagisawa’s take on this is the Yani BooStar.
This heavy mass screw is designed to compensate for the resonance lost at the join between the neck and the body of the horn. The extra weight apparently helps to aid projection and gives a fatter and fuller sound.
A cheaper option is the Corry Bros Tone Tablet, a small piece of metal that is inserted into the lyre hole of the saxophone neck tendon, and held in place once the lyre screw is tightened.
Key Leaves is a family-run business based in Seattle.
They’re a fairly new company, but their simple-but-effective flagship product has already proved highly popular, with high profile endorsers including Jaleel Shaw, Gerald Albright and Camille Thurman.
When your saxophone is not being played, Key Leaves prop open the G sharp, C sharp and E flat keys, allowing them to dry. This stops them from getting stuck – every saxophonist is familiar with the dreaded sticky G sharp key in particular – as well increasing airflow to the saxophone body and pads.
The result is a decrease in the build-up of bacteria and fungus, which can be bad for both the instrument and for the player’s health.
- Stop sticky saxophone key pads G#, Eb &...
- Leaf-shape props slide under key arms to...
- Reduce sax repair and save pad life...
- Alto + Tenor + Bari + Bass + C Melody...
So that’s our rundown of 10 saxophone accessories, from the most common to some slightly more unusual ones.
Of course, there are a huge number of other options out there, so feel free to let us know in the comments section if there are others you think should be included.
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!
Last update on 2021-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API