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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Gentlemen -

Here is a neck strap design (shoulder strap, more accurately) I've been experimenting with. It takes the load of heavier instruments (baritones, I'm talking about you) off the neck and puts it on the shoulder where it belongs. It's a project still in progress. But results have been promising and I thought anyone of experimental inclinations might get some ideas for something similar.

Here's the general layout. Sorry, this shot turned out a bit darker than I'd planned. The photos get better later.

Musical instrument Reed instrument Saxophonist Saxophone Musician


I started with a simple over-the-shoulder design, much like this by BG -


(Note that the description talks about bari straps, but actually illustrates an alto; not exactly a ringing endorsement of its utility as a bari strap.)

A similar strap is the Neotech Neo Sling -


I first made something along those general lines. The good (and surprising) news is that the hook/clip doesn't immediately slide down under the right arm, but stays pretty much much where it's put. The bad news is that the pressure on the left side of the neck is annoying. (This design iteration is not pictured here.)

My second attempt added a strap under the left arm. This keeps the strap away from the neck, so that the weight of the instrument is supported by the left shoulder, from both above and below the arm. All photos posted here are of this later improved strap.

Musical instrument Saxophonist Reed instrument Saxophone Musician


The buckle is really not necessary.

Arm Dress shirt Tie Eyewear Neck


It makes the strap easier to put on, and everything feels a bit less claustrophobic. Without the buckle, the whole rig can be wrestled on over the head, much like an old T-shirt which must have shrunk a bit in the wash. The advantage to eliminating the buckle is one less potential failure point. The buckle I used is a solid item from YKK, perhaps a little more trustworthy than the usual mystery brands you buy by the bag on the big auction site. It's been working fine . . . so far.

I'm not wild about the hook itself. It's a knockoff of a Heckler & Koch rifle sling clip; very sturdy and secure but a bit of a chore to clip on if wrestling with a bari at the same time. I'm always on the lookout for something better.

Textile Luggage and bags Bag Shoulder bag Wood

Front (pictured) and back (not pictured) are much the same, but the front has the buckle and the back has a strap length adjustment. I used 1" polyester webbing. I found the "heavy weight" option (about .078" thick) easier to use than the light weight (.029" thick), as the light stuff is very floppy and tends to go wherever it wants, rather than where my design wants it. I went with the rorty print pattern just to be different; normally that damn black is the only webbing color you ever see. (Well, black or dayglo orange, which isn't an improvement.) Everything is held together with a couple of layers of contact cement and a row of stitches. I used the sort of manual stitching awl sailing types use to repair sails; it looks like a deadly huge needle on a handle and is not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who's basically "all thumbs" should avoid it unless his insurance is paid up. A heavy-duty sewing machine might work fine. I advise against relying entirely on the contact cement for the safety of your instrument. Aside from the challenge presented by the stitching, webbing like this is great stuff for experiments.

At the moment this is my favorite strap for bari. (It works well for alto and tenor as well, but as they're such lightweights I don't usually fret much over their straps.) But like any inveterate experimenter, I reserve the right to change my mind at whim.

Commercial harness-style straps are probably closest in spirit and function to mine, but I think are over-constrained; in my experience, the greater freedom of movement with my strap still supports the instrument as well as a harness, at least so far as playing is concerned.

I never developed any affection for the Saxholder.

The types with flat bendable supports which fit over both shoulders while staying away from the neck don't work well for me; perhaps my shoulders are shaped funny.

Most other strap designs put the load on, or very close to, the back of my neck, which I find annoying and want to avoid. Some even manage to squeeze my neck from the sides, which does my carotid arteries no good at all.
 

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Gentlemen -

Here is a neck strap design (shoulder strap, more accurately) I've been experimenting with. It takes the load of heavier instruments (baritones, I'm talking about you) off the neck and puts it on the shoulder where it belongs. It's a project still in progress. But results have been promising and I thought anyone of experimental inclinations might get some ideas for something similar.

Here's the general layout. Sorry, this shot turned out a bit darker than I'd planned. The photos get better later.

View attachment 127856

I started with a simple over-the-shoulder design, much like this by BG -


(Note that the description talks about bari straps, but actually illustrates an alto; not exactly a ringing endorsement of its utility as a bari strap.)

A similar strap is the Neotech Neo Sling -


I first made something along those general lines. The good (and surprising) news is that the hook/clip doesn't immediately slide down under the right arm, but stays pretty much much where it's put. The bad news is that the pressure on the left side of the neck is annoying. (This design iteration is not pictured here.)

My second attempt added a strap under the left arm. This keeps the strap away from the neck, so that the weight of the instrument is supported by the left shoulder, from both above and below the arm. All photos posted here are of this later improved strap.

View attachment 127857

The buckle is really not necessary.

View attachment 127858

It makes the strap easier to put on, and everything feels a bit less claustrophobic. Without the buckle, the whole rig can be wrestled on over the head, much like an old T-shirt which must have shrunk a bit in the wash. The advantage to eliminating the buckle is one less potential failure point. The buckle I used is a solid item from YKK, perhaps a little more trustworthy than the usual mystery brands you buy by the bag on the big auction site. It's been working fine . . . so far.

I'm not wild about the hook itself. It's a knockoff of a Heckler & Koch rifle sling clip; very sturdy and secure but a bit of a chore to clip on if wrestling with a bari at the same time. I'm always on the lookout for something better.

View attachment 127859
Front (pictured) and back (not pictured) are much the same, but the front has the buckle and the back has a strap length adjustment. I used 1" polyester webbing. I found the "heavy weight" option (about .078" thick) easier to use than the light weight (.029" thick), as the light stuff is very floppy and tends to go wherever it wants, rather than where my design wants it. I went with the rorty print pattern just to be different; normally that damn black is the only webbing color you ever see. (Well, black or dayglo orange, which isn't an improvement.) Everything is held together with a couple of layers of contact cement and a row of stitches. I used the sort of manual stitching awl sailing types use to repair sails; it looks like a deadly huge needle on a handle and is not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who's basically "all thumbs" should avoid it unless his insurance is paid up. A heavy-duty sewing machine might work fine. I advise against relying entirely on the contact cement for the safety of your instrument. Aside from the challenge presented by the stitching, webbing like this is great stuff for experiments.

At the moment this is my favorite strap for bari. (It works well for alto and tenor as well, but as they're such lightweights I don't usually fret much over their straps.) But like any inveterate experimenter, I reserve the right to change my mind at whim.

Commercial harness-style straps are probably closest in spirit and function to mine, but I think are over-constrained; in my experience, the greater freedom of movement with my strap still supports the instrument as well as a harness, at least so far as playing is concerned.

I never developed any affection for the Saxholder.

The types with flat bendable supports which fit over both shoulders while staying away from the neck don't work well for me; perhaps my shoulders are shaped funny.

Most other strap designs put the load on, or very close to, the back of my neck, which I find annoying and want to avoid. Some even manage to squeeze my neck from the sides, which does my carotid arteries no good at all.
Nice work. I think I would eliminate the buckle for safety.

Do you find the side strap on the weight bearing side is really needed? For me the issue is having straps cut into your sides. The harnesses I've seen tend to make it look like you have man-boobs. Otherwise, they might be ok.

I have thought about using a guitar strap over the shoulder. I'm concerned about the uneven left-right weight distribution.
 

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Interesting. A point of comparison is the way bicycle messenger bags use a cross-strap to keep the main strap from rotating under load. This is kind of like your third picture, but on the messenger bag, the main strap over your left shoulder is continuous (no buckle or ring), and the smaller cross-strap that goes under your left arm attaches with a quick-release buckle.

The QR buckle makes it easier to get on, as you say, but putting the QR buckle on the cross-strap means that if the buckle opens or fails, it would just let the main strap rotate, it wouldn't drop the horn on the floor. Here's an example, from this page: Vitesse Messenger Bag Optional Strap
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Interesting. A point of comparison is the way bicycle messenger bags use a cross-strap to keep the main strap from rotating under load. This is kind of like your third picture, but on the messenger bag, the main strap over your left shoulder is continuous (no buckle or ring), and the smaller cross-strap that goes under your left arm attaches with a quick-release buckle.

The QR buckle makes it easier to get on, as you say, but putting the QR buckle on the cross-strap means that if the buckle opens or fails, it would just let the main strap rotate, it wouldn't drop the horn on the floor. Here's an example, from this page: Vitesse Messenger Bag Optional Strap
View attachment 127861
Yes! This solves the buckle/ clasp issue and explains the benefit of the cross-strap well.
My other question is about the sax hook/ clasp part itself…is it stationary and the strap length adjusts, or does the hook slide leaving it gravity dependent and always at the low point of the sling? A moveable hook would allow more options for horn placement…like for people who hold the sax out in front.
 

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[QUOTE="Levsha, post: 4420328, m. The buckle I used is a solid item from YKK, perhaps a little more trustworthy than the usual mystery brands you buy by the bag on the big auction site. It's been working fine . . . so far.

They use similar buckles on large dog collars. If it will hold a Rottweiler, it will hold a bari.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nice work. I think I would eliminate the buckle for safety.

Do you find the side strap on the weight bearing side is really needed? For me the issue is having straps cut into your sides. The harnesses I've seen tend to make it look like you have man-boobs. Otherwise, they might be ok.

I have thought about using a guitar strap over the shoulder. I'm concerned about the uneven left-right weight distribution.
My first attempt at this sort of shoulder sling didn't have the side strap, but I found the pressure on the left side of my neck annoying. The side strap does exert some pressure on the side of my chest, but I'd rather have it there than on my neck. The triglides I used for strap length adjustment do stick out a bit - not much, but enough to feel. I left the straps a bit long and shortened the ones which were particularly annoying, to move the triglides around a bit and move the pressure points to the least annoying points I could find. But I still found the triglides to be a bit more annoying than the webbing. I did put a pad on the top strap which goes over the shoulder. I salvaged the pad from a really cheap aggressively priced Chinese strap from Amazon. I bought several of those specifically to use for experiments of this sort.

In the end, I think those of us who have had a couple of decades to become accustomed to our middle-aged bloat just have to be resigned to putting up with being poked here or there by any strap. Make it as un-annoying as practical, and put up with what remains.

I didn't find the asymmetric support to be a problem; the weight distribution is already asymmetric when the bari is worn on the side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interesting. A point of comparison is the way bicycle messenger bags use a cross-strap to keep the main strap from rotating under load. This is kind of like your third picture, but on the messenger bag, the main strap over your left shoulder is continuous (no buckle or ring), and the smaller cross-strap that goes under your left arm attaches with a quick-release buckle.

The QR buckle makes it easier to get on, as you say, but putting the QR buckle on the cross-strap means that if the buckle opens or fails, it would just let the main strap rotate, it wouldn't drop the horn on the floor. Here's an example, from this page: Vitesse Messenger Bag Optional Strap
View attachment 127861
Yes, that's a good safety feature. I considered it but opted to put the buckle where I did because the side strap on my strap arrangement is up a good deal higher than on the messenger bag, and sticking the buckle close up under my arm would almost certainly be very annoying. I put the side strap up high because it seemed to me that the resulting angles of the straps would be most likely to keep the sax where it'd be useful, rather than slipping down to the right. But this is just a guess; nothing I can prove or calculate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes! This solves the buckle/ clasp issue and explains the benefit of the cross-strap well.
My other question is about the sax hook/ clasp part itself…is it stationary and the strap length adjusts, or does the hook slide leaving it gravity dependent and always at the low point of the sling? A moveable hook would allow more options for horn placement…like for people who hold the sax out in front.
The hook can slide along the strap. I can adjust the length of the long strap with the adjusting slide or triglide on the back, and so tighten it until the sax sits where I want it. Shorten strap (ie, tighten), and the MP moves a bit higher. The final position of the main strap is much higher than it is on the messenger bag, but it's not actually tight. I was surprised at the way the sax stayed in place, and not slip down and to the right as one might expect. But a different shape of hook might behave differently. As for other players and other sax positions, I can't really say. I was so impressed that it actually worked to hold the bari where I wanted it that I stopped and declared the experiment a success.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
[QUOTE="Levsha, post: 4420328, m. The buckle I used is a solid item from YKK, perhaps a little more trustworthy than the usual mystery brands you buy by the bag on the big auction site. It's been working fine . . . so far.

They use similar buckles on large dog collars. If it will hold a Rottweiler, it will hold a bari.
In theory, yes. Unfortunately like all this Chinese stuff (and it's all Chinese, even the Japanese brands), some of it is pretty good, and some is just insulting. I figured the YKK ones would be pretty close to the best I could get, YKK being an old company active in the fastener business for many decades. But YKK has a bewildering range of models. I got the smallest ones which would work with 1" webbing.
 
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