The size of this book may puzzle you first; it resembles an airline timetable or travels guide. However the 132 pages promise a lot of content. This book is a really delightful surprise. Besides the fact that the print quality and typography is superb, the subject is thoroughly covered and illustrations are well rendered and informative.
[ The new version which came out in 2007 has 224 pages and its dimensions are 9 x 5.8 inches (see cover picture on the left). With increased page count the contents are greatly enhanced. ]
The author Hugo Pinksterboer has utilized well-known European and American experts. I find myself going back to various sections again and again. They briefly cover the history and development of the saxophone, playing tips for beginners and practical tips for maintenance and even for traveling with the sax. What is really useful is the saxophone selecting and buying advice with price indications in U.S. dollars.
The web site, www.tipbook.com ties closely to this book. The book contains a total of 29 numbered "tipcodes" referring to the respective codes on the web site. This is an excellent way to refer to sound samples of various pitch saxophones, video clips on attaching and adjusting reeds, etc.
Who should buy this book? This should definitely be the first book to land in the hands of a newcomer to the saxophone world. All the necessary information is there. A more experienced player planning to replace his/her rental instrument or inherited sax will also find the instrument core sections valuable. There are also some interesting "exotic" tid bits, e.g. an alternative for the neck strap for supporting a saxophone (page 94). To top it off there is as an excellent combined Glossary and Index and reference section including magazines, books, organizations and saxophone web sites.
There is a whole Tipbooks family covering various instruments and general music topics. I am looking forward for reviewing the theory book (Tipbook Music on Paper) in near future. It's interesting that the publisher has created a couple of "Tipbook displays" for retail shops to display the books and use them even as give-aways for prospective instrument buyers.
Although this review only covers the English language version, The Tipbook: Saxophone has also been published in Dutch, French, German and Spanish. This is definitely enriching for the worldwide audience. This book can be especially recommended to the international Sax on the Web users who like to fully utilize the SOTW Forum, because here they can find saxophone terms well-defined in English; e.g. all parts of the saxophone, mouthpiece and terms that explain the shape and form of the reed.
I own several saxophone instruction books and have reviewed a fair amount of them. The Tipbook: Saxophone stands out in its practical approach, covering various aspects of buying, owning and using the saxophone. As mentioned above, even it's size is practical. The book will travel in a tenor saxophone accessory box or inside the bell of an alto sax, if you want to bend it. Even advanced players may find some interesting tidbits; the beginner and intermediate player will certainly profit from this book and its associate web site as well as band directors and teachers. In summary; thanks Hugo, for the job well done.
Typographical errors found:
Page 40 - "Low A Baritones are still Bb Instruments!" They are Eb horns!!
Page 55 - "HP Instruments are about an inch shorter than saxes with standard tuning; low pitched instruments are about an inch taller." - The length is proportional to saxophone's size, and there is only "HP & LP", not "HP, Standard and LP".
Page 112 (Mouthpiece Manufacture) - "The final steps include corking and stamping." Saxophone Mouthpieces are not corked.