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Big Nick
11-07-2013, 08:53 AM
Here it is then – what you've all been waiting for – a review of the Saxinet!

If you've no idea what one is, go and have a look here. (http://northwindinstruments.com/saxinet/)

I got the silver one in C, without the mouthpiece that is usually supplied with it (I really don't need any more alto mouthpieces).

It looks a very nicely made simple instrument. Not much to say about that really except, perhaps, that it doesn't look like a toy.

It takes a standard alto sax mouthpiece, the seal on the tenon being effected by PTFE plumber's tape. The fit is quite snug - one of my mouthpieces wouldn't go on at all (standardisation - who needs it, eh?). I ended up using my usual alto set-up - Sakshama Studio G with a Marca Jazz 2.5. Possibly overkill, but it sounded ok. Tuning is by the usual method.

It's a pretty easy blow and, since I'm used to recorder fingerings, I didn't have any trouble getting all the notes (up to D anyway). It may be called a Saxinet but it doesn't sound like either a sax or clarinet. My first thought was, "crumhorn?" or, at least, something vaguely medieval. Really, I suppose, it sounds like a saxinet. It's a pretty short tube so notes can be bent all over the place (or played way out of tune). A little care has to be taken and it would take a little while to get thoroughly comfortable with the tuning. As with many of these simple instruments, cross-fingered notes can be a bit stuffy and require more care with tuning but that's all part of the learning process.

Since it's a cylindrical instrument it overblows a 12th, so there's a gap between the D (you can squeeze out an Eb with all fingers off) and the next G. The upper register notes have the same sort of relationship tonally with the lower ones as the clarinet, ie. somewhat clearer, less "woody". They are also rather difficult to control (the manufacturer admits this) but I shouldn't think it's an insurmountable problem. If you really need to fill the gap the G in the upper register can be quite easily bent down to a D. Doing it in a musical manner would be more tricky though. :) . Half-holing the thumb seemed to help stabilise things.

It's got a pretty good dynamic range. It doesn't exactly roar but you can make a fair bit of noise with it and it can be played down to a whisper.

At great risk to my reputation I've done a few recordings to give you an idea of what it can do with a few minutes practice (I've only had it a couple of days). No auto-tuning has been used on the recordings - that should be obvious when you hear them. I haven't recorded any using the upper register out of respect for your ears.

The first one is a duet with the C soprano that I got last week (more dodgy tuning I'm afraid).
https://soundcloud.com/nicksax/saxinet-and-sop1

A chromatic scale.
https://soundcloud.com/nicksax/chromatic-scale

A bit of noodling.
https://soundcloud.com/nicksax/saxinet-noodling

More noodling with a drone.
https://soundcloud.com/nicksax/drone-and-saxinet-1

All in all I rather like it. I've not got much to compare it with apart from an old Xaphoon which I've had for donkey's years and don't play. The Saxinet's fingering is easier and it has a greater dynamic range. It's not quite pocketable (would a detachable bell be possible or an engineering challenge too far?) but if you want to keep your alto embouchure fresh and you can't fit the sax into your luggage then it's a lot more fun than playing the mouthpiece on its own.

Oh, and if you're ordering it from the UK expect to pay an extra £20 or so for VAT and the Post Office's extortion racket.

ericdano
11-07-2013, 06:07 PM
The guy who makes this emailed a few weeks ago about it. I wasn't interested. It looks like a way too expensive toy, and it sounds like one. And it's like $130.....to start.

Thanks but no thanks.

Northwind
11-22-2013, 03:14 PM
The Saxinet is a musical instrument. Any instrument can seem like "a toy" to someone who views it with through the lens of their preconceptions instead of approaching it with some seriousness and open-mindedness. It's much more about the mindset than the object.

Since it is an instrument and not a toy, maybe you will now find it not so expensive. See? You can change the price just by changing your perspective. :mrgreen:

Hadamard
11-22-2013, 04:35 PM
The Saxinet is a musical instrument. Any instrument can seem like "a toy" to someone who views it with through the lens of their preconceptions instead of approaching it with some seriousness and open-mindedness. It's much more about the mindset than the object.

Since it is an instrument and not a toy, maybe you will now find it not so expensive. See? You can change the price just by changing your perspective. :mrgreen:

Yeah, it's an instrument, but still expensive! It sounds like a nobilitated kazoo and a kazoo is 4€.
Ok, not really a kazoo, but much more like a popular instrument. It could be useful in certain situations, but considering that I bought an used soprano saxophone for the same amount of money it does not fit my concept of "not expensive".

saxtech
11-22-2013, 05:50 PM
how about a pass-around?

Northwind
11-22-2013, 06:01 PM
Hadamard, where was your used soprano made?

We live in a strange time where something that takes several hours to make, in North America, is considered expensive at $129.00. Do you think all of that is profit? Do you have any idea how much of that is profit and how much that "profit" translates to per hour? No, of course not. That's why this kind of discussion is ridiculous.

This idea of "expensive" is an illusion because you have become used to instruments made by people who are paid $10.00 a day tops. I'm not saying don't buy them, I'm saying you should realize that you're getting something reallly cheap.

There is a certain brand of horn player who characterizes anything that isn't a saxophone, and is otherwise unfamiliar, as sounding like a kazoo or a "snake charmer" etc. I think this tends to be a "kneejerk" reaction to unfamiliar tonal differences than a serious reflection on the timbre of the instrument in question. The kazoo is a four-inch long membranophone with no tone-holes whose tone is generated by humming and whose timbre is greatly shaped by a paper membrane, not a reed, to create a buzzing sound. Realistically, the Saxinet has as little in common with the kazoo as does any other reed instrument.

Northwind
11-22-2013, 06:03 PM
Saxtech, I could be interested in that.

Hadamard
11-22-2013, 06:29 PM
Hadamard, where was your used soprano made?

We live in a strange time where something that takes several hours to make, in North America, is considered expensive at $129.00. Do you think all of that is profit? Do you have any idea how much of that is profit and how much that "profit" translates to per hour? No, of course not. That's why this kind of discussion is ridiculous.

This idea of "expensive" is an illusion because you have become used to instruments made by people who are paid $10.00 a day tops. I'm not saying don't buy them, I'm saying you should realize that you're getting something reallly cheap.

The "kazoo" reference is really pretty old, unimaginative and demonstrably innaccurate. There is a certain brand of horn player who calls anything that isn't a saxophone, and is otherwise unfamiliar, a kazoo or "snake charmer" etc. It's simple ignorance. Talk about the tone and timbre in some sort of intelligent and critical way using objective descriptors (ever heard of overtone series?), if not, why bother making yourself sound, well, unknowledgeable?

My soprano was made in China, but the Ottolink STM that came with it should be made in USA... We are talking about an used instrument I agree. I resold the saxophone at 180€ because I know how to describe things, when I'm not in a hurry, and traded the Ottolink for a tenor Berg Larsen. Basically a new mouthpiece costed me -40€. Yes, we live in strange times.

No, I don't think that all of that is profit. On the contrary: I suppose most of that goes into manufacturing, marketing, R&D, customer care... I work for an American multinational and I have a vague idea of the costs behind a product being offered to a potential customer.
By the way, most of discussions are ridiculous: not everybody has the same annual income and, at the end, a person just label something as "expensive" if he's not willing to pay the price. Your instrument is nicely made, nicely marketed and your idea of providing a familiar fingering is arguably a good idea. Still I don't like the sound the saxinet produces and I'm not willing to pay for it. Just to be honest: the same holds true for all the others "pocket saxophones" and for a whole bunch of instruments that I -personally- don't like: ghirondas, trombones, tubas, oboe, classical guitar, violin etc etc.

I admit that the kazoo reference is pretty old. In fact I copied it from a previous comment in this same forum. My fault. Still, the Saxinet reminds me of some instrument like ciaramella or launeddas... those are Italian names that I don't know how to translate (and I have to figure if a translation actually exists). I just supposed that "kazoo" was easier to understand.

I know pretty well the overtone series, I understand how it explains the origin of timbre, I know how to calculate the frequency of a stationary wave in a tube (open, closed, conical... your choice). I have quite a good grasp of the physics behind a sound.
Still nobody likes the tone of Coltrane because of that "particular fifth harmonic". A sound can be perceived as nice or not-so nice without talking about the overtone series.

Northwind
11-22-2013, 06:46 PM
Nobody likes Coltrane's tone? Really?

Did he like it?

I appreciate some people not liking the saxinet's sound, absolutely. That in fact is the point: some will, some won't. The launeddas has persisted in the same basic form for about 3,000 years. Something doesn't stick around that long because it doesn't sound "good". It sticks around because alot of people really enjoyed playing it, listening and dancing to it etc. For them, it probably defined "good" tone in a reed instrument.