One-Handed Saxophone

Many handicapped people are limited to what instruments they can play. For example, if one only has one hand, one would have difficulty playing a saxophone or violin. Therefore, our project aims to create a one-handed saxophone that produces the same quality music allowing handicapped persons to enjoy the saxophone just as aficionados do.

Inspiring Story

Dr. Nabb started playing the saxophone since 5th grade and as an adult, he became professional, playing in bands and teaching at the University of Nebraska. Unfortunately, he had a stroke, which left his entire left side paralyzed. He thought his career was over but he heard about a one-handed saxophone. Dr. Nabb and his longtime sax repairman, Jeff Stelling, built a one-handed sax "from the ground up." Essentially, every finger is dedicated to a key, so Stelling and Nabb created keys that would perform functions from the left and right key.

After 30 years of practicing the saxophone with two hands he said starting over with just one hand was "a whole different technique." But once he began to play again, it was "absolutely the greatest feeling" and the most terrific satisfaction because "it's what my whole life has been about." The one-handed sax allowed him to "tie his life back together again."

For more information about Dr. Nabb's story, click here.

Design Features

In the typical saxophone, a user uses their left hand to control the three major keys that establish the first half of the major scale, ranging from G to potentially D or D#. After this point, the right hand must be used to reach the rest of the registers including anything lower than that G to D range up to a low Bb and anything above the G to D range reaching unlimited octaves above this left hand range. However this phenomenal one handed saxophone has four extra keys at the bottom of the saxophone and no keys at the top. Thus the saxophone key system becomes a chromatic scale system, in the same sense a chromatic harmonica works in which a key is pressed to make a certain note one half-step up. With an octave key at the bottom too, this saxophone has a potential range of two octaves and with the altissimo register, it has an unmeasurable range once it goes past the "constructed" highest note.

Last updated November 29, 2010 by BP


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