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Tokyo has some of the best collection of sax stores I've seen--and it's also home to some funky accessories I haven't seen elsewhere. Thought I'd make a post to highlight some of them.

Girot (pronounced gee-row) thumb hook. This is actually interesting since it's made for players with smaller hands who play tenor sax. Basically the hook portion is further offset to the right.
Made to order and you can customize the size, heck you can send it back to get it tweaked for free. Costs around $40.

http://girot.jp


Taking the honors of being one of the ugliest thumb hooks I've seen is the Earrs thumb hook.
Earrs in Japan is most known for their titanium neck tenon screws, which (of course) tout better tone and resonance for your sax. But wait! They also have resonant thumb hook screws, putting you one step closer to sounding like Dexter Gordon incarnate.




But if your closet Mark VI still sounds stuffy, it's obviously not you, but your thumb hook teardrop that's preventing you from shredding on Giant Steps.
Sax Reso Holder comes in different varieties, from brass (jazzier) to sterling silver (more classic music vibe).
 

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True story; on a gig one night the thumb hook bracket popped off of my Martin tenor. It was weird but I was able to play through. The thing is, at that instant the horn began to play with more resonance, and it was noticeable. At the break I taped the thumb hook back on and had it soldered at my earliest opportunity, but I have never forgotten my amazement at the difference in the sax without it.
There is truth to some extent in the current trend by manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers to 'increase resonance' in saxes. Selmer even uses the name 'Jubilee' for its advanced designs. However, separating 'the wheat from the chaff' regarding these aftermarket gadgets is still up to the buyer.
The thumb hook designs meant to fit special applications don't really fall into the speculative category - they are designed to give comfort to players who need them so you can't fault them for that.
I was recently surprised by Yanagisawa advertising a neck screw that increases resonance. This whole field is really new to the industry but is spreading like wildfire. When the major manufacturers make these statements you have to think there is substance to it.
 

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I was recently surprised by Yanagisawa advertising a neck screw that increases resonance. This whole field is really new to the industry but is spreading like wildfire. When the major manufacturers make these statements you have to think there is substance to it.
Not only do I disagree that "substance" necessarily must be present in such statements, I do not accept that such a thing as "resonance" even exists, in the sense of a desirable sonic characteristic of a saxophone that can be calibrated through various gizmos.

I am willing to believe, however, that any addition of weight to an instrument may have a modest impact. If weight can be felt in the hands, then it can be felt in the embouchure, and even a small change in the way the mouthpiece and horn "hang" from the player's mouth can probably subtly affect the tone.
 

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Formerly mdavej
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True story; on a gig one night the thumb hook bracket popped off of my Martin tenor. It was weird but I was able to play through. The thing is, at that instant the horn began to play with more resonance, and it was noticeable. At the break I taped the thumb hook back on and had it soldered at my earliest opportunity, but I have never forgotten my amazement at the difference in the sax without it.
There is truth to some extent in the current trend by manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers to 'increase resonance' in saxes. Selmer even uses the name 'Jubilee' for its advanced designs. However, separating 'the wheat from the chaff' regarding these aftermarket gadgets is still up to the buyer.
The thumb hook designs meant to fit special applications don't really fall into the speculative category - they are designed to give comfort to players who need them so you can't fault them for that.
I was recently surprised by Yanagisawa advertising a neck screw that increases resonance. This whole field is really new to the industry but is spreading like wildfire. When the major manufacturers make these statements you have to think there is substance to it.
Apparently the more parts you remove from your horn (in some cases add a little JB Weld to fill the holes as needed), the more resonant the horn becomes.
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?357204-My-new-Selmer-Mark-Vii

Next thing I would try is removing the body brace and all the key guards. Just imagine how much resonance you'd have then.

If there's one thing I'd want to change about my own sound, it's adding more resonance. I think lack of resonance is what's been holding me back.
 

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I can see where a sax without a thumb hook would play with more resonance. Maybe perceived resonance would be more accurate. The thumb hook might stiffen up the body tube a little and not transmit vibrations as readily as just the bare body tube, which we don't normally touch directly when playing. I can feel the horn vibrating, especially with my RH fingertips on my Martin, but not so much with my thumb. On a Martin tenor with an adjustable thumb hook, the thumb is even more "remote" from the body tube. When I play a loud G, and use my right hand to touch the body tube between the Eb and C tone holes (a nice big area with little "damping" key work), I feel more vibration than I get through the thumb rest. The horn is vibrating the exactly the same, but I can feel more of it on the bare tube.

It might be similar to the "Goldbeck effect." Goldbeck metal mouthpiece don't have a tooth guard. I thought that my alto Goldbeck piece had the nicest buzz until it made my teeth hurt. Put on a tooth guard or, better yet record yourself, and you will find out that the Goldbeck buzz is literally in your head. A Goldbeck's sensation of vibration does not mask the groan of tone. Like a missing thumb hook, I suspect the the enhanced perception of vibration is not shared by the audience.

Mark
 

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I can see where a sax without a thumb hook would play with more resonance. Maybe perceived resonance would be more accurate. The thumb hook might stiffen up the body tube a little and not transmit vibrations as readily as just the bare body tube, which we don't normally touch directly when playing. I can feel the horn vibrating, especially with my RH fingertips on my Martin, but not so much with my thumb. On a Martin tenor with an adjustable thumb hook, the thumb is even more "remote" from the body tube. When I play a loud G, and use my right hand to touch the body tube between the Eb and C tone holes (a nice big area with little "damping" key work), I feel more vibration than I get through the thumb rest. The horn is vibrating the exactly the same, but I can feel more of it on the bare tube.

It might be similar to the "Goldbeck effect." Goldbeck metal mouthpiece don't have a tooth guard. I thought that my alto Goldbeck piece had the nicest buzz until it made my teeth hurt. Put on a tooth guard or, better yet record yourself, and you will find out that the Goldbeck buzz is literally in your head. A Goldbeck's sensation of vibration does not mask the groan of tone. Like a missing thumb hook, I suspect the the enhanced perception of vibration is not shared by the audience.

Mark
I was thinking the same thing. I would add that people apply the word "resonance" incorrectly to saxophones. Perhaps they mean they could feel the saxophone vibration more. Simple vibration, not resonance. Those who truly care can look up the definitions of "resonant" and "resonance".
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't factor the sound when choosing thumbhooks, but I swear the sax response feels like it improves without a thumb hook. At least perceived--maybe it's the vibrations and maybe it doesn't make an ounce of difference to the listener. I don't notice any difference with oversized neck screws or other knick-knacks.
 

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I was thinking the same thing. I would add that people apply the word "resonance" incorrectly to saxophones. Perhaps they mean they could feel the saxophone vibration more. Simple vibration, not resonance. Those who truly care can look up the definitions of "resonant" and "resonance".
Exactly. The column of air inside a saxophone has a natural "resonant frequency" determined by the distance to the first opening the sound wave encounters. The term "resonance" is widely misunderstood as it applies to saxophones. Here is why. Guitars, violins, pianos, etc. are instruments in which a vibrating string or wire directly transfers those vibrations to a sounding board or "resonating chamber" which both amplifies the sound and also shapes the harmonics. In this class of instruments the term "resonance" does apply since the vibrations of these parts are an integral part of the sound.

On a saxophone however, the sound is entirely created by a vibrating reed setting a column of air into vibration. The body and its connected parts do vibrate, we as players can often feel that, but the sound created such vibrations is far to weak to be heard while the saxophone is being played. What is even more important is that no "coupling" takes place between the wall vibrations and the vibrations of the air column, which simply means that one has no effect upon the other.
 

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That's just crazy talk. If there's no coupling, then my resonant ligature screw is worthless. I already play my horn like a clarinet since I've removed all the keys to improve resonance. And it's really hard to hold without a thumb hook. Now you're telling me my sax doesn't resonate at all?
 

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I saw somewhere recently (dang if I can now find it!) a resonant ligature screw.
Was that the one to replace the Silverstein top screw? Saw that one on Facebook and actually laughed at the idea that someone is trying to sell something as niche as that.
But hey, someone’s gonna buy it!
 

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You know, I have played an awful lot of hours on tenor sax (On Conns, mostly, which have small nonadjustable hooks) and I don't understand what it is that makes some people find the thumbhook painful. I mean, I understand perfectly about soprano or clarinet, but you're not supposed to be putting any more than the bare minimum of force on your right thumb on an alto tenor or baritone. That's why they have neck straps and why there are two swivel joints to adjust the angle. Now I did once spend a half hour playing bass sax with a strap that was too long and it about killed my thumb, because without realizing it I was trying to hold the thing up with my right thumb. But that's an example of improperly adjusting the strap.

In short, in my opinion, if you are contemplating replacing your RH thumb hook on a horn that you hold with a neck strap, you probably need to adjust your strap, neck to body joint and mouthpiece angle instead.
 

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One of my students had a king super 20 tenor where the right hand thumb rest was was completely moved like an inch to the right. Sometimes people improve designs for ergonomics. It doesn’t matter how ugly it looks since it is between the horn and the player’s body.
 
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