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My 7 yr old just got his alto sax today. I got him a padded neck strap. Would a harness be better or would that teach him bad habits in some way? I don’t know how it would but I don’t want it to be a problem in the future with posture or how he holds it. Thanks!!
 

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harness won't teach bad habits, but at 7 it may be a bit difficult to get one fit properly.
I don't think a padded strap at this age is going to cause any issues, especially as infrequently as elementary/middle school players play. I played on Neotech harnesses for years, granted I started at 9 instead of 7, and still do for alto and soprano. I have neck issues from wrestling and the Balam is great for a strap that uses the shoulders instead of the neck. I have a neotech harness for bari, but it doesn't feel right on alto.
 

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The posture is important regardless of strap choice and bad posture habits (in general, not just while playing) are what lead to problems as we age. As long as it does the job of holding up the horn I wouldn't worry about it unless he complains. If he's still playing a lot late in high school and continuing beyond is when I'd start thinking about a possible change. For now just don't be the parents that leave a kid with one reed that's chipped and no spares :)
 

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Neck strap is fine. Wait until hes in high school and let him decide if a harness is good for him.

- Saxaholic
 

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Straps allow the player maximum flexibility to find his or her preferred instrument position. A harness tends to dictate the position more, in exchange for broader weight distribution. I think that the best approach is (1) while using a neck strap, learn to play the sax in a position that is comfortable, ergonomically correct, and consistent with the teacher's recommendations; then (2) later, if desired for comfort, try to find a harness that will enable the player to reproduce the optimum playing position. Some of them may not.

I don't think I'd worry about the weight unless his alto is unusually heavy, and student horns do tend to be lighter than pro horns. He's not going to be playing 3-4 hours at a time, is he?
 

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Straps are fine - avoid the stretchy, bouncy versions.
 

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For players just starting out I think the ideal strap is the "old fashioned" one made with leather that has holes in the strap and a buckle that adjusts to a fixed length. The length of the neckstrap affects the posture, tilt of the head, and the angle the mouthpiece goes into the mouth. To have the neck strap set at the ideal length by the teacher from the start can go a long way in developing consistency in tone production. This style of strap is getting hard to find but there are still some available. Another idea is to put a thick patch on the mouthpiece with a groove made in it where the top teeth should go so the student "finds" that location every time the student plays.
 

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For players just starting out I think the ideal strap is the "old fashioned" one made with leather that has holes in the strap and a buckle that adjusts to a fixed length. The length of the neckstrap affects the posture, tilt of the head, and the angle the mouthpiece goes into the mouth. To have the neck strap set at the ideal length by the teacher from the start can go a long way in developing consistency in tone production. This style of strap is getting hard to find but there are still some available....
I agree 110%. Not just for a beginner.

Buy a Belmonte 3488 bass clarinet strap; take off one of the hooks; shorten the strap and punch some holes where needed. I have been using this strap since 1978. The first one finally rotted out and broke after 20 years and so I replaced it with another of the same thing.

I use the adjust-with-slider type on a couple of saxophones and I don't like the way you're always guessing whether you've got the height right or not. And I know where the right height is, I've been doing this for 40 years. Another thing is that if you decide to make a small change in how high you hold the horn, you can inch up on it by going one buckle hole at a time, and the next time you practice, it'll be right there so you won't be tempted to backslide.

I have not seen any saxophone straps made of leather with a buckle offered for sale in many years, but with the proliferation of sax equipment in recent years there may be some. Most continue to use the slider adjustment.
 
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