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New Nuvo instrument due for release in 2016 - the jSax

Although not strictly woodwind, the saxophone and pocket saxophone often crop up in threads. Another fairly common reference is to the various instruments and innovations devised by Nuvo such as their 'DooD' reed recorder, 'TooT' flute and 'Clarineo'. Alongside those instruments, pocket saxophones are sometimes mentioned - the 'Xaphoon' being a classic example.

I therefore felt that forum members might be interested in the gist of comments made by Max Clissold of Nuvo during an exchange of emails that I had with him about their 'DooD. In these, he commented that in early 2016, the company is introducing a new instrument which will be called the jSax. This has been designed to sit alongside those other instruments in their catalogue. I thought forum members might like a heads up on what is in the pipeline. This is the gist of what he wrote - I've just edited out any phrases of a more overt promotional nature ...

it's tuned in C so it aligns with our other instruments in WindStars bands. All Nuvo instruments can share music as they are all in C. Fingering on the jSax is similar to DooD in some respects although there are 7 notes in the second octave running chromatically from D to G. It will come as a curved sax-style instrument but there will be a kit to convert to straight. The curved version is easier for kids while the straight version suits adults. The idea is that it will have serious implications for introducing sax fingering and embouchure skills to kids much earlier than they would normally start with a traditional saxophone. ... It's lightweight, versatile, durable, waterproof and for a small instrument, it really has incredible tone and volume. It uses the same reeds and mouthpiece as the DooD and Clarineo! The retail price isn't fixed yet but it will be well under 100 pounds.

l'll be keeping an eye on the Nuvo website and newsletters for the formal announcements of the jSax release date, associated resources and probable pricing.
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
First, I was a tad disappointed that there are no pics. So, I'll add one. Let's see ...

yoda_nopic_on_thread.jpg

Anyhow, in my brief attempt to look for pics, I came across www.littlesax.com, which is another company that deals in sax-like plastic instruments. I was a little underwhelmed with the tone. I then listened to a couple YouTube recordings of the DooD. It's a bit better, but still sounds like a soprano sax that's badly out of tune. The Xaphoon could be mistaken for a real sax by non-sax players.

I thought that the main design idea behind the Clarineo and the two flute variants was to create a lighter instrument for kids and/or people that have small hands and/or some other medical issue to play -- and the Clarineo and the Nuvo flutes sound really, really close to their wood and metal cousins.

I am interested in seeing and hearing the jSax. I'm just wondering if it will be an improvement over the Xaphoon, Alphasax, or Vibratosax.
 
The DooD, xaphoon and the little sax all sound like chalumeaux to me.

The Dood is interesting in that it has keys with holes in. I assume closing the lowest key without covering the hole gives you sharps/flats. It sounds pretty promising here.

[video=youtube;hDRa9elEOzY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDRa9elEOzY[/video]
 
I am interested in seeing and hearing the jSax. I'm just wondering if it will be an improvement over the Xaphoon, Alphasax, or Vibratosax.
Likewise. As far as I've been able to work out, the 'plastic' (ie: polycarbonate) Vibratosax is a product that never really caught on. I'm not even sure if it's still readily available in the UK. I've seen references in the 'Sax on the web' forum which suggest the price has rocketted.

As for the Alphasax, that seems much more interesting, especially for younger players or maybe beginners. I doubt that the jSax will be in the same price or style range as that instrument. For one thing - the Alphasax is metal.

The Xaphoon, when played by someone who has mastered it, really can have a good sound --- but 'mastering it' IS the operative phrase. The unconventional mouthpiece can take quite some time to get used to.

When first pictures and reviews of the jSax are released, it really will be interesting to see what design path Nuvo have taken. Their 'DooD' reed recorder uses silicon 'flaps' which work as keys. These do work well and create a very effective seal. (I've been experimenting with one for a couple of weeks). Also, of course, being a reed instrument AND a recorder - albeit with a restricted range of notes - it should function very well as a natural bridge to the clarinet or sax. Something that isn't the case for fipple recorders. As far as I can see, take-up tends to be more evident in the far east although I believe a few schools in the UK have started using this instrument. I've not as yet seen any reports or reviews of their success.

Taking the Nuvo Clarineo as an example of Nuvo's approach to design in which they've successfuly created an instrument that looks and works in very similar ways to a wooden clarinet, I'm guessing that the jSax might follow similar principles and both look and work rather like a metal sax, but with several reduced, removed or simplified functions or actions. However, it's intriguing to cogitate on this sentence from Max Clissold's description of the jSax ...

It will come as a curved sax-style instrument but there will be a kit to convert to straight.

I'm no expert on the sax, but that suggests to me that it's tone may be closer to that of a soprano sax. I'm also guessing that the instrument will use the same sort of mouthpiece of reed system employed on the DooD and Clarineo. If so, these would take Nuvo's plastic reeds OR traditional cane reeds.

Only time will tell how far off the mark I am. I'll continue to keep an eye on the Nuvo and Windstars websites in the hope of finding out more about this intriguing project.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Likewise. As far as I've been able to work out, the 'plastic' (ie: polycarbonate) Vibratosax is a product that never really caught on. I'm not even sure if it's still readily available in the UK. I've seen references in the 'Sax on the web' forum which suggest the price has rocketted.
TL;DR No price rocketing, but probably no US dealers for Vibratosax. I'd recommend thew Alphasax over the Vibratosax, based on other folks' reviews.

==========

Vibratosax is still a presence in Asian and European markets, but I don't see a US dealer on the Vibrato website They also keep coming out with new models. You can check out http://www.vibratosax.de for some of their current stuff, including pics of their prototype tenor and curved soprano.

The Alphasax starts at 399 Euro ($450 US) and that's the same price as the Vibratosax A1 Series III from the same store. (The original A1, if you can find one, is cheaper, at around $330 US.) That's actually a quite nice price for the UK and approximates the price of a used student-class Yamaha alto. And, of course, eBay sax means that you should have at least $300 available for repairs, so it's very competitive pricing. This makes it a bit more difficult for me to always recommend a Yamaha student model for a beginner, because I can say, "If you've got small hands, the Alphasax might be good to start on. If you've got a problem with weight, the Vibratosax might be a good alternative." However, I think I'd recommend the Alphasax over the Vibratosax because the Alphasax has better reviews. Mind you, I haven't played either.
 
The Nuvo jSax is now about to ship and should be available in the UK in the not too distant future. In terms of its design and weight, it looks ideal for introducing very young children to an instrument which does produce a soprano sax-like tone. (Unlike the eminently playable Cantabile X-20 which has a distinctly clarinet sound). The jSax has a simplified fingering and pad system which is also derived from sax systems. I've seen one Facebook upload showing a toddler managing to get an initial sound from it and another showing a young boy playing a scale on it. So far there is one useful Youtube upload which shows what the instrument looks and sounds like. I just hope that Nuvo provide sufficient promotion and tutorials as they did for the Clarineo. Although not show in the following demo, there are additional inserts for modifying the fingering & pad systems. I did read or see an explanation of how these work but cannot now recall where that was. I'm guessing they are for increasing the flexibility of the instrument as familiarity and competence grow. Maybe someone else in the forum can explain - and thus remind this old fogey about what he has now forgotten!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OII0_66xrZU

Tom and Will will be the importers and distrubutors. From their website, details about the jSax are as follows:

DESCRIPTION

The Nuvo jSax brings the world of saxophone playing to a wider audience than ever! Young musicians can now start to play an instrument with traditional feel from an early age.

The jSax has a traditional fingering system and serves to enable newcomers to develop embouchure and tuning skills which will be directly transferable to a full size saxophone. The tone is surprisingly mellow, and therefore this instrument offers a lot of fun for both newcomers and established amateur saxophonists.
Following in the tradition established with other Nuvo instruments, the jSax is pitched in C (concert pitch). This makes integration into classroom music making very easy, and means that the jSax is also compatible with all WindStars music. The instrument has a fully chromatic range from middle C (C4) to G in the next octave up (G5).

Due to its design and construction, the jSax requires very little maintenance and is simple to clean – warm soapy water will do the trick in next to no time! Since the pads are synthetic, there is no risk of water damage, simply allow the instrument to drip dry before returning to its case. You can take your jSax with you wherever you go, they love camping, hiking, climbing and even swimming!

The jSax outfit is supplied with two synthetic reeds, strengths 1.5 and 2 which are great for getting started. In addition to Nuvo synthetic reeds, more experienced players may prefer to use traditional cane reeds – Eb clarinet size is a perfect fit. The standard jSax outfit includes moulded case and carry strap, and is supplied as the curved instrument. Some adults may find a straight option more comfortable, in which case the “Straighten your jSax” kit consists of a straight neck and bell to transform the curved instrument.

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Instrument weight: 240g
Boxed dimensions: 36 x 13.5 x 8cm
Boxed weight: 760g
Price for main instrument £79
Price of kit to convert to a straight instrument £15

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Pitched in C (concert pitch)
100% waterproof
Follows traditional saxophone fingering patterns
Lightweight polymer instrument with silicone bell
Snap-shut ligature
5 position adjustable thumb rest
Supplied with 2x Nuvo synthetic reeds, open hole key plugs, jSax fingering chart, o-ring grease and case
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I listened to the video. I think y'all have reintroduced the shawm. Seriously. They sound very similar.
 
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