A pocket saxophone is a small, lightweight and inexpensive woodwind instrument that plays in a two-octave range. Visually, the pocket sized instrument’s shape resembles a small clarinet without all the keys. Musically, the small instrument mimics the rich, deep and vibrant sounds of the much larger tenor saxophone.
The small-sized pocket saxophone has the ability to produce subtle musical shadings and vibrant power of a larger instrument. It can play in a two-octave chromatic scale with the same intonation of the much larger tenor sax. Unlike the tenor sax, the pocket saxophone only can play in the key of “C.” Interestingly enough, this instrument plays two octaves lower than flutes of the same size.
Compared to a tenor saxophone’s 23 keys, the pocket saxophone only has a total of nine note-producing openings. The keyless appearance of the pocket instrument greatly appeals to beginners who may otherwise become intimidated by the many keys of a clarinet and saxophone. As in a tenor sax, the mouth piece, containing a reed and ligature, is attached to the slim and keyless body of the small woodwind instrument.
Experienced and inexperienced musicians alike have found the small instrument to be a portable, easy-to-use and inexpensive saxophone or clarinet alternative. Unlike the much larger saxophones, the small instrument measures less than 13 inches (33 cm) in total length, compared to the tenor saxophone’s 32 inches (81.3 cm). The pocket saxophone is also even smaller than the 26 inch (66 cm) clarinet.
Its lighter weight, which allows for increased portability, is another benefit of this diminutive instrument. A pocket saxophone weighs approximately 3 ounces (85 grams) due to the durable lightweight injection-molded-plastic material it is made from. The instrument’s relatively small size and weight easily allow people to carry or store the pocket saxophone in a backpack or large purse.
In addition to being easy to use and portable, this instrument is also extremely affordable. Prices will ultimately vary depending on availability, model and market conditions. New pocket instruments can cost between $50 and $100 US Dollars (USD).
Pocket saxophones are similar in size, price and appearance to bamboo saxophones. Two most notable differences between the two types are the casing material used and the key. Bamboo saxophones are mostly made from their namesake, but occasionally the instrument can be made from other types of wood. Unlike the pocket sized saxophone, the bamboo sax can play in three keys: C, B flat and D. Pricing for the bamboo saxophone is slightly higher than the pocket saxophone.