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Has anyone ever tried out both the Marmaduke strap and the new Balam straps from the Boston Sax Shop? I’ve been planning on getting a marmaduke strap for a while because I liked the general style of it, but I saw the balam strap and was wondering if anyone has done a side-by-side comparison. They seem to be identical in style, albeit the Balam looks like it might be a little more comfortable.
 

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Hey there! This is Jack from the Boston Sax Shop

I don't often jump in here, but I figured I'd clear up an important detail about these two products. I had been looking for a 'harness strap' for my shop for a little while (about one year ago) and tried both of the mentioned straps before deciding which one to carry and promote. While there are a few similarities between them, there is one significant difference that should be pointed out, which is that the Marmaduke strap still makes contact with the back of your neck. The Balam does not, it rests only on your back and shoulders, which in my opinion is the main benifit of a harness/strap hybrid.

I dont sell things I dont believe in or use myself, and spent a lot of time with both. Other factors in my consideration were of course the build quality, ergonomics, aesthetic design and fit/finish.

If you or anyone has any questions about the Balam, I am more than happy to help :)
 

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Hi Mercurypluto,

I don't think that you will find too many people who have tried both straps as they seem somewhat similar in price and design. As an owner of a Balam strap I will offer you my opinion.

As an aging (early 50s) saxophone hobbyist I am always in the look out for comfortable straps, harnesses and stands to try.

Among these are: The Sax Holder, Ergonomic System Free Neck (older version), Vandoren Sax Harness, Cebulla neck strap and On Stage tall sax stand along with the Balam strap. I have also owned other straps, stands and harnesses that I wont mention to keep it brief.

Of the straps/harnesses, the Balam is hands down the most comfortable (at least for tenor sax, which is what I mostly play). It is also the least restrictive and most elegant.

In comparison, the Sax Holder is good but needless to say is weird looking and becomes unstable when you are sitting. On the plus side it is very easy to adjust and carry around.

The Cebulla is nice looking and easy to adjust but you will still carry on the weight on your neck which makes it uncomfortable despite being well padded. I just use it when playing my soprano.

I wont discuss either the Free Neck nor the Vandoren Harness, which use similar mechanism to keep the weight off, as I consider them a whole different beast and not what you are looking for.

Now the Balam will keep the weight completely off the neck and distribute it evenly to your shoulders. Keep in mind that if you have severe back issues, the weight will still be transmitted to the back.

Overall it is as comfortable or more as the Sax Holder but much cooler looking and stable. You will have no problems playing it either standing or sitting. The only thing that is harder to do with the Balam compared to others is adjusting it. While not a problem if you are playing a single sax, I do believe it could be an issue if you're switching saxes in the middle of a gig.

Hope this helps.
 
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