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Forum Contributor 2014-2015
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I took some time to assess six saxophone straps, three shoulder/back straps and three typical neck straps while playing tenor. I have found that some straps are acceptable and possibly even “comfortable” until such time that I try a new sax strap right next to it. What was acceptable or even comfortable can become very uncomfortable through this trial approach. This is exactly what happened this morning. I’ll also add that I was wearing a thin polyester like shirt (my spring and summer daily wear shirts), so I felt everything each strap had to offer. I played each strap for just about five minutes each with a timer. Then I repeated the process again with an idea of what each strap had to offer.

6) My former favorite from the Boston Sax Shop—it kills me to say this because I love and adore Jack—the Whimory Balam Premium Back Strap. I found this strap so irritating to my middle back at the strap’s rear connection points. This is definitely not the case when wearing a thick cotton flannel shirt, sweatshirt, or sweater. But today it was. The strap does completely take the weight of the horn off the back, but the straps rear connection points definitely made it irritating. It was the most uncomfortable strap of the day.

5) The Jazzlab Saxholder Pro was the second least comfortable strap/harness. It also placed undo pressure in the middle of my upper back. I’m not really a fan of this strap in general, but it definitely takes the weight off the neck. It’s good for standing tenor practice, IMO.

4) The Boston Sax Shop’s Newbury Street Deluxe neck strap comes in next. It was quite comfortable at first, but the leather is a little too stiff and started to wear on me after a few etudes. Regardless, of its rank today, this is generally a very comfortable strap. Just be aware that the leather is quite stiff.

3) The Cebulla neck strap is next. It was really comfortable the first time around. After feeling the Just Joe’s strap, however, it fell out of favor. The leather is supple, but the pads are too thick. Everything else about the strap is really nice.

2) Just Joe’s neck strap is by and far the most comfortable neck strap I have. The leather is super supple, and the little pads in the neck support are quite comfortable—not too big like the Cebulla. I strongly recommend Just Joe’s neck strap.

1) The Marmadule Feather IV “Premium” back strap is simply amazing. The weight is sort of distributed mostly to the shoulders/ back, but there is also a very little weight (or at least pressure) on the neck from my perspective. It’s superbly well-crafted and has a guarantee of being able to hold 80kg! I have no complaints about anything having to do with this strap.

I hope you found this snapshot review informative.
Best,
Ben

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+1 on the Just Joe's. Once I got a Just Joe's neck strap, I never had to look for another.
You lucked out! I bought a Sax Holder Pro off eBay ( that was an ordeal ) and didn't like it. Saw the Vandoren harness at the music store and forked over the $150 for that. Pretty comfortable once you get it on and the horn in place. Better than the Sax Holder for sitting down with a bari or tenor. I found where you have to bend the Sax Holder to compensate for having a paunch. Now it is comfortable but no longer fits in the bell of my horns for transport.
Got the Just Joe's not long after he added the wide yoke that helps distribute the weight off your neck. That is the strap I use now for tenor and alto.
 

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Excellent reviews Ben. I've been thinking over and over of getting something better for Bari. I have moved on from everything except my basic Neotech harness, as it just simply works despite being annoying to put on and wear. But looking at that Marmaduke, I may have to give it a try. The Just Joe's with wide adjuster is my go to for Alto/tenor now, and I feel no need to look elsewhere there. I also use it for brief Bari playing on occasion. But a better solution for the big horn could be that feather strap!

To add, I tried the BSS Newbury strap (not soft enough leather like the JustJoes), Balam Premium harness strap, and saxholder as well. All of these were not comfortable enough. I spent a long time adjusting the Balam Premium and Saxholder but couldn't get past some of the contact points feeling uncomfortabe. Didn't find anything as comfortable as the justjoes with wide adjust bar. Pressure to the sides of the neck/shoulder area is wonderful and alleviates extra neck wear. But for the extra Bari weight, the Marmaduke may be a solution for me!
 

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Forum Contributor 2014-2015
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The Marmaduke has this Rovner thing happening along what I think is the “side webbing.” (It might be a different attachment now.) Regardless, tightening the screw has the impact of increasing weight distribution onto the neck. I strongly prefer it with this contraption tightened so there is more weight on the neck. I also removed it and played with it—I prefer what seems about ~75% on the shoulders and ~25% on the neck. It just makes a heavy Yamaha tenor feel so light.
Best,
Ben

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Your #1 and 2 are my favorites too!

I use the Marmaduke Feather IV at home (without the screw tightening device). It's perfect for longer duration playing. It totally alleviates any neck pain. For gigs, I use Joe's strap which is lighter and easier to carry around. Both are indeed extremely comfortable.
 

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I feel like the biggest thing to consider with straps, harnesses, and other holders is angle of entry and how you play/ hold the horn. The ones you review here are among the most comfortable and are all widely accepted as being good quality. For me the saxholder (not pro or pro) works best. I rarely play seated…otherwise I’d choose differently. The arms definitely need adjusting for fit/ comfort based on height, girth/ belly size, and neck: but once done it’s pretty solid and “weightless”. I had an older/ different version of the balam with many strings and it was ridiculous to switch between tenor and alto: also, the non-slip mechanism and lock is useless…it slipped constantly locked or not.
I haven’t played a “harness” strap that allows the horn to be held comfortably in front (too close) and the straps (even JJoe’s and Cebulla) just aren’t comfy for me. When I play seated a regular neck strap is fine.
 

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Your #1 and 2 are my favorites too!

I use the Marmaduke Feather IV at home (without the screw tightening device). It's perfect for longer duration playing. It totally alleviates any neck pain. For gigs, I use Joe's strap which is lighter and easier to carry around. Both are indeed extremely comfortable.
Funny - the Marmaduke Feather IV and Just Joe’s are my top two as well. The Balam Premium is pretty good after spending some time bending / string adjusting but not as comfy as the Marmaduke.
 

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Where was this great post a week ago when I was in the thick of a search for my next strap?! :D Thanks for taking the time to write this review.

I'm back to Cebullas after a 4-year flirtation with Just Joe's. I would say the JJ strap is slightly more comfortable, but I do really like the way my Cebullas mold to my body after some use. Never tried a Marmaduke Feather IV, but I don't really get on with the over-the-shoulders style straps - feels too much like wearing a bra to me (no diss to anyone). I thought the JazzLab SaxHolder was a joke - unusable for me based a number of factors.

In the end, I found a local leather repairperson who rebuilt my ancient Cebulla and restored it to basically new, so I'm on Cebulla until they give out, and then I'll go back to Just Joe's. Can't go wrong with either if you're searching for a "deluxe" traditional-styled strap.
 

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I feel nothing in any part of my back from the Saxholder. I play with it on like 5+ hours a day, standing, sitting and feel nothing, as though I’m floating on air. And I have a bad back already, prone to issues. It has to be adjusted correctly so that the tops of the arms are resting lower down on your shoulder blades. Nothing should be touching your “middle back.” Perhaps you had them closer together so that they put pressure there?

Anyway I originally bought a Just Joe’s and it’s lovely to look at and the merchant is super nice to deal with. But at the end of the day, it‘s a neck strap. Anything that puts the weight on my neck is a no-go for me.
 

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On a budget I am impressed with this stap, decent quality and so comfy with my herniated disc in my neck.
that looks nice, but I heard some complain about that part that pushes against the neck where the strap that goes behind your neck attaches being uncomfortable when wearing a t-shirt for example.
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this is the reason Marmaduke flipped it to the outside on their model III.
Bicycle part Font Composite material Strap Metal
 

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I have a 1st generation Saxholder and I really like it. I had neck pain and headaches before I started using it. I took some time to adjust it and since then I don't feel any pressure of the hooks in my back.

I just don't really like the way it looks. The feather strap looks much better. How do they fit in a Saxophone case, do they fold?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Thanks Benjamin. Were you sitting down with the straps or standing up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Benjamin. Were you sitting down with the straps or standing up?
Both sitting and standing. The biggest negative impact of sitting was against the Saxholder Pro. I can see it working on alto with the horn in front, but on the side with tenor was uncomfortable and somewhat awkward. I suppose I should have mentioned that in the first post. I have since learned that I can bend and reangle the Saxholder Plus arms so they’re not digging into my back, which I’ll try and do. But I still think it will be awkward sitting.

I also observed that the Boston Sax Shop Newbury Street Deluxe, with its firmer leather, was less comfortable sitting with the tenor to the side than with the tenor in front. The softer more supple leather of the Cebulla and especially the Just Joe’s made both much more comfortable when sitting.
Best,
Ben
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have a 1st generation Saxholder and I really like it. I had neck pain and headaches before I started using it. I took some time to adjust it and since then I don't feel any pressure of the hooks in my back.

I just don't really like the way it looks. The feather strap looks much better. How do they fit in a Saxophone case, do they fold?
The Marmaduke comes with a soft bag, and it fits in the tenor’s bell. I know some people keep their horns neck or a saxophone stand in their horn’s bell, so that could be an issue for some.
 

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Ben, I just wanted to say how appreciative I am that you come out with these reviews and the refacing stuff that’s on your bench.
Your efforts will be a big help to a lot of people, so I wanted to thank you for that!
Because of this review, I’m going to check that Marmaduke out. I really appreciate what you do and how you do it. You are a good man!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ben, I just wanted to say how appreciative I am that you come out with these reviews and the refacing stuff that’s on your bench.
Your efforts will be a big help to a lot of people, so I wanted to thank you for that!
Because of this review, I’m going to check that Marmaduke out. I really appreciate what you do and how you do it. You are a good man!!!
Thank you, Mark. I greatly appreciate your tremendous kindness and support. And I love your amazing mouthpieces! I’ve had two EB Links, two Selmer Soloist sopranos, and two Ted Klum Handcrafted pieces. I took pictures of the Klum (bought the other), so I might produce a review of those pieces. I’ve already done the EB and the Soloist.
Best,
Ben
 

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Both sitting and standing. The biggest negative impact of sitting was against the Saxholder Pro. I can see it working on alto with the horn in front, but on the side with tenor was uncomfortable and somewhat awkward. I suppose I should have mentioned that in the first post. I have since learned that I can bend and reangle the Saxholder Plus arms so they’re not digging into my back, which I’ll try and do. But I still think it will be awkward sitting.

I also observed that the Boston Sax Shop Newbury Street Deluxe, with its firmer leather, was less comfortable sitting with the tenor to the side than with the tenor in front. The softer more supple leather of the Cebulla and especially the Just Joe’s made both much more comfortable when sitting.
Best,
Ben
Nice work Ben! Fully agree with the negative impact of sitting using Saxholder Pro. I have a minor neck pain issue and I initially thought using saxholder for tenor was a good idea (I sit playing most of time). Then I found that it is very uncomfortable playing sit with tenor at one side while using Saxholder Pro, and the saxholder shift the pressure from neck to shoulder and back, and it feels even worse than just using the regular neck strap, not to mention that I had to constantly change the position as it tends to slip over the shoulder. It is good for playing Alto in standing position though.
 
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