There are many neck strap options for saxophone beginners and advanced players alike. Different varieties include traditional fabric or leather, stretchable padded neoprene, and ergonomic. Which is the right one for you? Here are a few recommended neck straps that my students use as well as my favorite for personal use.
Rico Padded Saxophone Strap- Snap Hook
The Rico Padded Saxophone Strap is widely available in music stores and online and is a very good option for beginning saxophone students. The padded memory foam provides extra comfort for your neck while breathable athletic material stays comfortable and dry. Make sure to get the snap hook. It is especially important for kids to use a neck strap with a snap hook, otherwise the saxophone can detach from the neck strap rather easily and end up on the ground!
Neotech Soft Sax Strap
The Neotech soft sax strap actually helps reduce uncomfortable neck and shoulder pressure, fatigue, and bounce. The innovative design incorporates neoprene with a comfort-stretch backing. This combination allows the weight of your instrument to be evenly distributed over a larger area on your neck and shoulders while absorbing the shock of your movements. The end result is your instrument feeling lighter and you will be less prone to neck problems if it's a concern. This neck strap is very good for the larger and heavier saxophones like tenor and baritone, especially if younger students have an issue with the weight on their neck. The one downfall to this strap caused by the elasticity is the fact that at times it can feel like the saxophone isn't locked in place with your embouchure and can move around a bit.
Oleg Ergonomic sax strap
Oleg has many great products out on the market, and one of them is the Oleg Ergonomic Sax Strap. I used this for many years as my main neck strap and went through a couple different ones. Ergonomic straps are shaped to conform more closely to your necks curve, in turn making them very comfortable for long periods of time. Unfortunately, because the strap neck strap piece is slightly larger it doesn't fit so well with collared shirts (for those live performances!). In addition, this one is made from a soft, padded leather which is always a nice option.
When I attended the 2013 NAMM convention in Southern California I stopped by the Brancher booth and, to my surprise, found some quality saxophone products. Brancher is based in France and all of their products (to my knowledge) are made in France. Although they make many different varieties of neck straps that you might want to check out (available from saxforte.com), I am a fan of the Sunset Strap. The neck portion of the strap is made from 100% cotton and leather, and the hook and metal parts are coated with a nice rubberized plastic. Everything feels very sturdy and like it will last for many years. Although it does take a couple weeks to break in the cotton and leather, it quickly becomes supremely comfortable for hours on end. In addition, the minimalistic design allows you to wear it easily with collared shirts without getting in the way. Another advantage to this neck strap is that every moving piece rotates, which effectively eliminates the problem of the cord or strap getting twisted and tangled. Lastly, the hook is not a closed design but because of the clever weight placement and long throw, it easily stays secured to the saxophone.
These are all great neck straps and you need to decide what is right for you. When in doubt, try them at your local store (like West Valley Music in Mountain View) before buying or order from an online retailer that has a good return policy. Feel free to email me with any questions. Until next time!