My husband has a habit of going to wirecutter.com whenever he needs something new. If you're unfamiliar with the site, its a hub of unbiased product reviews that have been through rigorous testing. Think of it like a modern-day "Good Housekeeping" stamp of approval.
I decided to create my own "ER stamp of approval" with products that have made my life easier as a saxophonist. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things :D
Neck-strap: Breathtaking Lithe Strap
Developed by a Japanese saxophonist with the goal of creating an ergonomically correct saxophone strap, the Breathtaking eliminates stress on the neck, eases tension in the chest, and divides the weight of the instrument between shoulders. The result is a ridiculously comfortable, well-made strap that makes hours of playing effortless. (And all the baritone players rejoice...)
Reeds: D'Addario Reserve Alto Saxophone Reeds, 3.0+
I know, someone who's a D'Addario clinician probably recommends their products. But here's what a lot of people don't know: I became a D'Addario clinician BECAUSE I love their products.
The Reserve reed line is crafted using state-of-the-art digital machinery. Without getting into the mechanics of it, suffice it to say that the result of cutting reeds in this manner yields unprecedented consistency. So, every reed in the box sounds virtually the same as the others. Imagine reeds that actually...work :D
I call the 3.0+ "the answer." It's a quarter strength between 3.0 and 3.5, the most popular reed strengths for saxophone. If you're looking for a reed that's a little more resistant than a 3 but not as stiff as a 3.5, then 3.0+ is the answer.
Mutes: Mutes by Nathan Mertens
If you're an alto or tenor player in my studio, you have a mute. Despite their name, mutes don't actually muffle the sound; instead, they change resonance in the bell, which alleviate the sharpness of low B and B-flat. Plus, they add warmth to the overall sound of the instrument.
BONUS: Prevent Sticky keys with Key Leaves
Key Leaves are one of my favorite examples of entrepreneurial genius. Tired of sticky keys, saxophonist Rulon Brown created a natural way to stop pads from sticking and improve ventilation while the horn is in its case. No more "missed" G# and low C# due to instrument malfunction.