What to Consider When Buying a Saxophone Neck

What to Consider When Buying a Saxophone Neck

Every saxophone player is eventually going to hit a plateau and see less immediate improvement in their playing. Although putting the time into practicing and taking lessons is probably the best solution, finding gear you're comfortable playing on is also important and can have an immediate positive impact on your playing and sound.

One frequently overlooked piece of gear is the saxophone neck, which has a tremendous effect on a horn’s performance. A recent upgrade made a noticeable difference in the tuning, resonance and overall playability of my saxophone, making it easier for me to attain the sound I am looking for. Here’s a look at a couple of saxophone necks, their features and benefits, and how to select the right one for you.

KB Saxophone Necks

KB saxophone necks were modeled after the resonance, tonal color and flexibility of the popular Selmer Super Balanced Action and the early Mark VI saxophones. Each one of the KB saxophone necks is 100% handcrafted and they are custom fit to a large selection of vintage and modern saxophones.

KB Redwood Hand Hammered Copper neck

KB Redwood Hand Hammered Copper
neck - Photo from KB Sax

Every KB sax neck is made by first stamping out the two halves of the neck and then silver-soldering them together to create the neck tube. This results in a neck tube with uniform wall thickness throughout. The benefits these necks offer include more resonance, flexibility and consistency throughout the entire range of the saxophone, but the company’s Redwood and Canyon necks, for example, address the issues in different ways.

The Redwood neck was designed for those players who like the focus and compact sound that can be found on many Selmer Super Balanced Action saxophones. This neck is more resistant than the Canyon model but offers a dark, resonant sound from top to bottom, which can be played at various dynamic levels and even into the altissimo with great ease.

The Canyon neck is modeled after the characteristics of the early Mark VI’s, which can be described as more spread and free-blowing compared to the Redwood model. Whether you are looking for a neck that is more resistant and dark or a neck that is more free-blowing and flexible, the Redwood and Canyon model are two necks with the characteristics you should consider when looking to upgrade your sax neck.


Tino Schucht Saxophone Necks

The Tino Schucht necks are handmade in the traditional fashion: by forming a metal sheet around a mandrel to create a conical tube. This tube is then bent over a form to give it the specific shape of a saxophone neck. These necks feature quality German brass and are designed after the Selmer Balanced Action, Super Balanced Action and Mark VI saxophone necks.

KB Redwood Hand Hammered Copper neck

Tino Schucht Old French neck
Photo from Tino Schucht

These necks are handmade for quality control and are constructed with a wide assortment of variations that are compatible with both vintage and modern saxophones. This variety of materials, designs and constructions offers many opportunities for players to modify response, dynamics and tonality.

Tino Schucht offers various model necks from the Old French to the New York to the California model. Both the Old French and New York model were based on the Balanced Action neck, which offered a focused sound throughout the saxophone, but the New York model, compared to the Old French model, has a stronger core presence in the middle range.

The California model is made out of copper, which offers a warm and dark sound and a slightly different level of resistance compared to the Old French and New York models. Whether you’re looking for resistance, or a bright, dark, focused, or a spread sound, the Old French, New York and California models should help you narrow down which neck fits the characteristics you are looking for in your next neck.


How to Select a Saxophone Neck

When it is time to evaluate saxophone necks, it’s a good idea first to identify what you’re missing in your current setup. If you’re looking for more resistance, brighter, darker, edgier or less resistance while playing, this is something you should note before trying various manufacturers’ necks.

When you have decided on what you are looking for, it’s a good idea to contact the neck manufacturer or your repairs person to make sure it will fit your saxophone. Although many manufacturers state their necks will fit your model saxophone, whether it’s a Selmer, P. Mauriat, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, Yamaha, or something else, it is wise to have measurements made so that once you receive the new saxophone neck to A/B test against your current setup, it’s a perfect fit.

The material of the saxophone neck also must be taken into consideration and can have a major to minor effect on the sound depending on your current setup.

  • A gold plated neck can add a bit of brightness to your sound.
  • A sterling silver neck can be darker and offer a more complex sound.
  • A copper neck offers a dark but warmer sound.
  • Some necks are offered in combinations of these materials.


The final and most important advice I can give is simply to test play your current neck and the after-market neck to see which one you prefer. If you notice a significant difference in terms of resonance, tonal color, flexibility and the overall enjoyment you get from playing, then I would recommend selecting this as your new neck or alternative neck. If you notice a minimal difference, keep shopping.

We’re always told that practice makes perfect, but it’s also important to play on gear that best enables you to express your musical ideas. Everyone is going to have their own preference when it comes to what gear best suits them, and there’s a wide range of options available.

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