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Two things wrong with this review:

1) That nonsense about plastic vs. metal clasps. I don't like plastic clasps, but because of their flimsiness. They don't affect sound at all. I also prefer a hook to a clasp.

2) The Rico straps were not reviewed. I have tried several of the reviewed straps at a local music store, and there is no better strap. I'm not saying that the Rico is a great strap (I actually liked the Roy Hyman straps...) but it's perfectly serviceable and has a metal hook, plastic covered. And its unique shape helps keep the horn from falling off the hook.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I know it sounds silly, but all you have to do is try it for yourself and it will be obvious. Check a plastic hook against a large brass hook. Even my 7th grade student could tell the difference between them. At this point it's not just my subjective opinion. I have done this play test with a lot of very accomplished saxophonists and they have unanimously agreed that there is a noticeable difference between a large brass hook and a plastic hook. It might only be a 3-5% difference in the sound and response, but it is clearly different. The saxophone is a mysterious thing and the smallest difference in materials can make a big difference. The point where the hook hangs must be an important node of vibration and all of that pressure from the strap must transmit vibration into the hook. Brass on brass acts a lot differently than brass on plastic. There is no other way to explain it, but the play test is clear.

Do the play test yourself and then come back and scoff, just make sure you find a strap with a larger brass hook.

Oh, sorry about missing Rico straps, I really meant to review every single strap ever made.
 

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Does it matter it the brass is unlacquered?
 

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It was shaping up quite nicely until...

I know it sounds silly, but all you have to do is try it for yourself and it will be obvious. Check a plastic hook against a large brass hook. Even my 7th grade student could tell the difference between them. At this point it's not just my subjective opinion. I have done this play test with a lot of very accomplished saxophonists and they have unanimously agreed that there is a noticeable difference between a large brass hook and a plastic hook. It might only be a 3-5% difference in the sound and response, but it is clearly different. The saxophone is a mysterious thing and the smallest difference in materials can make a big difference. The point where the hook hangs must be an important node of vibration and all of that pressure from the strap must transmit vibration into the hook. Brass on brass acts a lot differently than brass on plastic. There is no other way to explain it, but the play test is clear.
A few queries:
Wouldn't you think the sling ring is placed where it is so that the sax is properly balanced for the player, rather than some mystical acoustic nodal point?
What if the two don't match??

What happens when you just let the horn hang from its strap and play a mid C#?

If the vibrations from brass on brass make that much of a difference, such that it's noticeable from plastic (which is quite a stiff material) why doesn't a horn get progressively more dead as you close more keys off (think of all that squishy leather and felt touching the tone holes, not to mention your squishy fingers atop the keys?


What happens to the tone if you lift your thumb off the thumb hook? If a couple of ounces of brass make 3-5% difference, what figure would you put on the weight of the average thumb being in contact (bearing in mind the comparatively massive surface area)?

Regards,
 

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Like any vintage horn player - I'm talking about my age, not the age of the horn - I own and have played many different types of straps. I have hooks made of metal, plastic, metal covered in plastic, brass, steel, and who knows what else. My favorite tenor strap is nylon covered with a fabric pad (probably polyester) and has a brass hook. The brass hook is about to wear through so I'm getting anxious about replacing the strap. It's not made any more, at least I can't find one that looks like it and I wish I could. The one bit of info on it that I can find is the remnant of a tag that says "Blue Note Products" which I guess is a Rico product. A while ago I acquired a free Rico strap with the plastic coated metal hook in a Rico giveaway program. I didn't use it until I just got a Martin alto and I'm using it for that. I've got a Neotech shoulder strap that I don't use, and I had to get an extra long Neotech strap for the bari. I also have an old leather strap with a metal hook and the small belt buckle. I guess over time I've unintentionally performed the experiment about different hook materials affecting sound. I'd have to say that if you can hear the difference, your ears are far more finely tuned to the subtleties of tone than mine. That may be the case, but I can't imagine letting the hook material's effect on my sound determine which strap I use. I'm far more concerned about comfort and in my confidence that the hook won't let my precious Martin Music Man tenor drop to the floor. And I think paying more than about $25-$30 for a neck strap is excessive. More than $50 is outrageous.

Edit: I just found a Protec strap that looks like my old favorite strap, except it has a plastic hook. It sells for around $10. I think I'll order one.

More edit: Protec also has a similar strap with a metal hook. But the hook looks like it's plastic-covered. Now I don't know what to get.

Still more edit: Perri makes one that looks like my old strap, except it has a plastic hook. It sells for $5.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Woo,
Just do the test, without actually trying it you are in no position to pass judgement. I have done the play tests and many other players have as well and the results are clear. It makes a noticeable difference regardless of whether or not it makes sense to you or not. Come back with your comments after you've done that, then we will have something to discuss.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Q: Wouldn't you think the sling ring is placed where it is so that the sax is properly balanced for the player, rather than some mystical acoustic nodal point?
What if the two don't match??
A: Of course the ring is placed for balanced considerations.

Q: What happens when you just let the horn hang from its strap and play a mid C#?
A: The brass hook changes the sound and the feel of every note on the horn, not just certain notes.

Q:If the vibrations from brass on brass make that much of a difference, such that it's noticeable from plastic (which is quite a stiff material) why doesn't a horn get progressively more dead as you close more keys off (think of all that squishy leather and felt touching the tone holes, not to mention your squishy fingers atop the keys?
A: I am not saying that I understand to esoteric acoustic principles of why brass hooks sound better. You can be an armchair acoustician and debunk the results of my findings, but the results of the play tests are so clear. Do the tests yourself and then you will have a better idea of what I'm talking about. Is it so difficult to believe that the material of the thing that is supporting most of the weight of the horn makes a difference in how the thing vibrates? Who knows why. If it was barely noticeable I wouldn't even bother to write about it. It is a big change (depending on the size of the hook), almost as much as a ligature change.

What happens to the tone if you lift your thumb off the thumb hook? If a couple of ounces of brass make 3-5% difference, what figure would you put on the weight of the average thumb being in contact (bearing in mind the comparatively massive surface area)? Just try it, then you can talk all the **** you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Smonk,

I have yet to try a large lacquered hook against a large brass unlaquered hook. I tried a small brass lacquered hook against a large unlacquered hook and the large hook sounded better. Let me also state that you can FEEL a more positive response with a larger brass hook. I don't know how else to describe it in more detail. I plan to do more extensive blind play and listening tests and will continue to post the results.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
After more testing:
We tried small brass chrome, large brass, plastic, aluminum, plastic coated brass.

Some notes are more affected than others, middle A for one. The sound of the larger brass hook is not necessarily better than the plastic hook, just a bit brighter. The difference is noticeable, but subtle. The brass sounds freer, brighter and louder, with a harder attack but is that a good thing? I'm still on the fence. It's like putting a very small baffle in your mouthpiece, not as big a difference but similar effect.

Do you want a louder, brighter sound at the expense of warmth? Maybe, maybe not. Joe, the maker of the Just Joe's strap, just sent me a Flip video where he played the plastic hook vs the large brass and the difference was marked.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Some of the difference definitely comes from the physical feedback in your jaw. The horn vibrates a little more with the large brass hook.
 

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I haven't tried the Joe's Strap, I've had my dejaques for about 6 years and really love it.

I don't know about the effect of the plastic clasp on the sound of the horn except to say I have a friend (A great player) that took lessons from Dick Oats in the late 80's/early 90's. My buddy told me to take off the build ups on my palm keys (Emilio) because it will interfere with the vibrating of the horn (He supposedly discussed this in his lessons) . My build-ups are still there, but my friend is certainly a believer.
 

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Q: What happens when you just let the horn hang from its strap and play a mid C#?
A: The brass hook changes the sound and the feel of every note on the horn, not just certain notes.
Let me clarify the question then. For every other note other than a mid C# you will have at least one finger and two thumbs in contact with the horn - plus at least one extra pad held down against the body (over and above those that are already closed...and assuming you're not opening a key).
If, as you claim, a small piece of metal or plastic from which the horn is suspended makes such a difference to the tone then you must assume the following is true:

The resonance of the body of the horn has a direct affect on the tone produced, and therefore anything that affects that resonance must have an effect on the tone.
If allowing the horn's body to vibrate causes the tone to change markedly then preventing it from doing so must have the reverse effect.

Do you see that you can't have one without the other?
So, we can posit that the horn's most resonant state will be when it's hanging unsupported by any other means than the strap hook - and that by blowing the only note we can at this point (a mid C#) we will hear the horn in that state.
The note then should be remarkably different in tone to any other note (which would require the player to handle the horn).
So, is it?


Q:If the vibrations from brass on brass make that much of a difference, such that it's noticeable from plastic (which is quite a stiff material) why doesn't a horn get progressively more dead as you close more keys off (think of all that squishy leather and felt touching the tone holes, not to mention your squishy fingers atop the keys?
A: I am not saying that I understand to esoteric acoustic principles of why brass hooks sound better. You can be an armchair acoustician and debunk the results of my findings, but the results of the play tests are so clear. Do the tests yourself and then you will have a better idea of what I'm talking about. Is it so difficult to believe that the material of the thing that is supporting most of the weight of the horn makes a difference in how the thing vibrates? Who knows why. If it was barely noticeable I wouldn't even bother to write about it. It is a big change (depending on the size of the hook), almost as much as a ligature change.

{Q}What happens to the tone if you lift your thumb off the thumb hook? If a couple of ounces of brass make 3-5% difference, what figure would you put on the weight of the average thumb being in contact (bearing in mind the comparatively massive surface area)?{A} Just try it, then you can talk all the **** you want.
{ - my brackets

My experience of straps broadly echoes that of MartinMusicMan. Over the decades I've used any number of straps with all manner of hooks.
I've even used a strap with two metal hooks - the shoulder strap off a Hiscox tenor case...used when I forgot my proper strap on a gig.
Like most players who stick with single horns down the years I know the response of my horns inside out - and as a repairer I know precisely when my horn is working at less than 100%.
Now, as it happens I have a strap with a large brass hook - it came with an old baritone that was passed on to me - and while I don't use it for gigs (because it doesn't have a locking function) I do use it at home, because it allows me to swap between horns with less fuss. So the moving between straps is something I've done a fair amount of in my time - and I've not noticed any difference at all in the tonal response.
And I'm really not surprised - because I know that you simply can't have it both ways.

Simple demo then.
Take a tuning fork, knock it against your knee to set it vibrating then place the shank down onto a table. You will hear the note sounding.
Place a coin on the table - repeat the experiment and this time place the shank on the coin. The note will still sound.
Now place your free hand on the table and repeat the experiment, and this time place the shank on your hand. Not much happens.

What does it prove? It proves that our hands act as dampeners - and we place both of these on a horn when we play it. For good measure we bung in some pads too - which also act as dampeners.
So if there's a noticeable difference in tone between a strap hook made of plastic and one made of brass - and yet no apparent difference when you place your hands on your horn...well, how can that be?
I mean, really.

Regards,

PS. I did like the review in general though. I'm a recent convert to the Cebulla myself (from BG straps). I don't seem to suffer from the problems you experienced though, but I have heard other players mention it.
 

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You left out the best of them all...Ergonomic Systems "Freeneck". Pricey but far superior.
 
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