Saxophone/pressure on thumb


QUESTION: I just got a tenor sax and started playing it, but it is much heavier than my alto and it puts a lot of pressure on my thumb.  My thumb and hands are already arthritic.  Is there something I can use to reduce thumb pressure?  I tried loosening the strap, but I don't think that will help much.  (I think I loosened it all I could to even see above the instrument!)  I love my tenor sax, what can I do to reduce thumb pressure (or stress on the thumb)?

Thanks, Joel


Actually I think you may have already found the solution to your problem you just did it backward.

The weight of the instrument should not be on your thumb but on the strap. If your supporting the instrument with your thumb than your strap is to loose. The proper position of the instrument should have it falling directly into your mouth when hanging from the strap with all the weight on the strap. The thumbs act as levers moving the horn back and forth and the strap ring is the fulcrum. If you push the horn out to where the body of the horn is parallel with you and the mouthpiece is below your mouth the strap is to long. If it's above your mouth it's to short. The right thumb should be pushing the horn away from you not holding it up.

If your sitting, than you will know you have the position of the horn correct when you can play a D and remove the right thumb from the back of the sax and the sax doesn't move then all the weight will be on the strap ring.

Hope this helps.

Charles H.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I see your point.  I know from playing the clarinet that a strap (for those who use straps) is supposed to relieve pressure on the neck and thumb.  What happened was, I had to really loosen the tenor strap to even get the mouthpiece in my mouth.  It was above my head!  I'll try to use the strap more to sustain the horn.  Yet there is some pressure on my thumb.  I am 62 years old, with arthritic hands.

Thanks again, Joel


Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. The system doesn't notify me when there is a follow up question.

This might require you to find a longer strap. Most straps are made for alto and are sometimes to short for a tenor. Neo-Tech makes and extra long saxophone strap. Your local store should be able to get one for you. As far as the pressure do the best that you can and drop your thumb a bit lower so it's not rubbing the hook.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]