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Hi guys

This might be a silly question but I´ve never asked it, so I´d like to know your opinions. When playing the soprano saxophone without using the strap, my right thumb, which holds almost all the weight of the instrument, gets so tired after several minutes of playing. Is this a matter of getting used to? over time my hand and fingers will be strong enough so I won´t feel pain anymore?

Thanks!
 

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if your thumb is on metal it helps a lot to soften it up...piece of leather,i personally dont like the little slip covers you get at the store..i use sugru to pad it out...
 

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Use a strap. It will pay off in the long run.
There should be no pain involved when playing an instrument.
 

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Your avatar makes it look like you are used to holding the tenor, so it looks like you are quite strong.

I disagree with the others on this, a strap on soprano can make you rely on the strap holding it, and so the instrument is angle too much downwards.

My advice is to not overdo it, but practise bit by bit until the muscles are developed to hold the horn.
 

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there are same rubbers you can put on the right thumb support, they're like 1dl or so..very inexpensive... this may help you with something...
 

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... so it looks like you are quite strong.

I disagree with the others on this, a strap on soprano can make you rely on the strap holding it, and so the instrument is angle too much downwards.

My advice is to not overdo it, but practise bit by bit until the muscles are developed to hold the horn.
Being strong or developing muscles to hold the horn has nothing to do with preventing this (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/de-quervains-tenosynovitis/DS00692) which many soprano players are susceptible to because of the weight on the unique and awkward position of the thumb on the thumb-rest vis a vis the other 4 fingers. don't play with any thumb discomfort thinking that soon your muscles will be developed and it will go away (the above is a tendon problem). i thought that way and ended up with the very painful above malady and had to wear a splint for a month to cure it. i personally find straps very awkward and uncomfortable. when i practice at home (3 hours per day) i sit and place the bell on the lap to transfer all weight off the thumb.
when i gig i stand but since it's not for a prolonged duration, i'm fine. try a strap see if you like it, or sit and practice. don't try to be a hero.
as for padding on the thumb rest (if that is an issue for you) i used to buy special rubber pads to fit on the thumb rest but they either fit poorly
or they soon split and fell off. now i simply tape a piece of spongy foam to the thumb rest and it feels fine and never moves.
 

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I had Shelly Tanabe put a strap ring on mine. +1 for the strap.
 

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Hi guys

This might be a silly question but I´ve never asked it, so I´d like to know your opinions. When playing the soprano saxophone without using the strap, my right thumb, which holds almost all the weight of the instrument, gets so tired after several minutes of playing. Is this a matter of getting used to? over time my hand and fingers will be strong enough so I won´t feel pain anymore?

Thanks!
That's why modern sopranos have strap rings. I wouldn't try to get used to it. I know of clarinet players who did so much damage to their hands that the cannot play without a strap. Soprano sax is heavier. The thumb wont get better, only worse.
 

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Being strong or developing muscles to hold the horn has nothing to do with preventing this (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/de-quervains-tenosynovitis/DS00692) which many soprano players are susceptible to because of the weight on the unique and awkward position of the thumb on the thumb-rest vis a vis the other 4 fingers. don't play with any thumb discomfort thinking that soon your muscles will be developed and it will go away (the above is a tendon problem). i thought that way and ended up with the very painful above malady and had to wear a splint for a month to cure it. i personally find straps very awkward and uncomfortable. when i practice at home (3 hours per day) i sit and place the bell on the lap to transfer all weight off the thumb.
when i gig i stand but since it's not for a prolonged duration, i'm fine. try a strap see if you like it, or sit and practice. don't try to be a hero.
as for padding on the thumb rest (if that is an issue for you) i used to buy special rubber pads to fit on the thumb rest but they either fit poorly
or they soon split and fell off. now i simply tape a piece of spongy foam to the thumb rest and it feels fine and never moves.
You have misinterpreted and misunderstood the causes and definition of De Quervain's tenosynovitis.
It is rather common for those laymen without any related medical knowledge but try to explain how those symptoms related to certain kinds of diseases.

Pete Thomas is correct and most serious soprano saxophonists do exactly what he mentioned.
 

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Try making one of these out of sugru

 

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You have misinterpreted and misunderstood the causes and definition of De Quervain's tenosynovitis.
It is rather common for those laymen without any related medical knowledge but try to explain how those symptoms related to certain kinds of diseases.

Pete Thomas is correct and most serious soprano saxophonists do exactly what he mentioned.
I don't know about this disease, but I do know about getting older and having the horn pushing sideways on a joint that's normally a bit sore to begin with. I'll stick with the strap, but thanks for the explanation.
 

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I agree with those that feel a strap may be of use. I don't play much soprano but have the problem with tenor and baritone. I rely on my strap to take the weight and sometimes rest the bari on my knee when standing. If it's muscle you can strenthen it but if it's joint or ligament you should take care.
 

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for all you strap advocates.... i use a tenor strap...basically to feel like im wearing a strap!! but it does NOTHING to support the horn! i guess only one of those dinky little straps really does the trick?

I know on the surface this seems to be an embarissingly stupid question......... but maybe not.........
 

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Try making one of these out of sugru...
I played a horn where someone did that! It was a tenor though. Now I guess I know why, though it seemed incredibly weird at the time. I don't use a strap for either curved or straight soprano, and due to the size of my hands I've got to keep the right hand thumb hook just above my fingernail. I have to extend the tip of my thumb outward to set it this way on all my horns, even bari; and though I imagine it has strengthened my thumb over the years, I also have to click it back into place on occasion.
 

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In playing musical instruments, we often get ourselves into habits where we try to make parts of our bodies do things that cause stress. It is usually found to be unnecessary if you really look at the situation objectively. I use a strap and find very little difficulty associated with the strap or any other aspect of holding the horn. There have been times I may have dropped the horn had I not been using the strap. I don't think the strap causes me to hold the horn too low. Obviously you can hold the horn too low, but don't do it!

Be sure that a nervous tension associated with playing the more difficult soprano is not making you squeeze the horn. Don't tighten any muscle without necessity. This sort of thing can sneak up on you. Periodically review your technique to guard against this. I have had a cramp in the right thumb on occasion. I stop playing and exercise the thumb joints thoroughly. Then I resume with care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Have you seen how musicians like Warren Hill or Kenny G hold the soprano using only their left hand? they do it only for a few seconds, just to use their right hand to wave to people or make other movements associated with expression in the song they´re playing. I think it looks cool! I´ve tried to do that (hold the soprano with one hand) and the only way I could (I´m not sure I´m doing it right) is relying all the weight of the horn on top of the mouthpiece and my upper teeth. When I do it, I feel very unsecured, as if my horn is just about to slip and fall down. These guys look like they hold the soprano very easy, and that looks cool when performing.
 

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More power to them. Everyone is different.
 

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... and if you don't and aren't, then you won't. :) Was that the message? :mrgreen:
 
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