Over the past few years I have written a few articles on one-handed saxophones (see tags), but the two people who did the customizations on the horns were both in USA. Then this morning I happened across a fellow from Amsterdam, who has been making adaptive wind instruments for years.
Maartin Visser is a trained woodwind instrument maker who owns Flutelab, which is located in Amsterdam, Holland. Flutelab will work with players, from beginner to pro level, to customize their instruments around their particular physical limitations. This is how Visser describes the work that Flutelab does:
Adaptive wind instruments
Instruments are mass produced. People are all different. That is why so many players turn to Flutelab to have their musical instrument adapted to their needs. Often, when musicians experience discomfort while playing hey will blame themselves or see a therapist.
To Flutelab, the instrument is the interface between a human and a resonating column of air. It should function right at both sides: the acoustic side and the ergonomical side.
Flutelab has worked on flute, bass flute, , saxophone, clarinet, oboe, recorder, cornet, basset horn, tin whistle, trumpet and folk instruments as the tenora (Cataluna) and Scottisch highland bagpine chanter.
Source: Adaptive wind instruments page on flutelab.com
In this following video, Visser demonstrates how his one-handed saxophone works. It is rather different than the others we have seen.
Here are a few images the customizations that Visser does to the saxophones to make them truly adaptive wind instruments.
Note too that Flutelab’s saxophones are available in both left and right hand-only versions, and that they will work with you to specially adapt your horn to your needs—whatever they might be. For example, the saxophone pictured on the left was customized for a player who lost some fingers in an accident. Now he can play his horn with only two fingers on the right hand.
I don’t know how many other companies in Europe do this kind of work, but I think having access to these type of adaptations would greatly increase a player’s ability to return to his/her pre-injury/illness activities. Having been through something similar nearly eight years ago now, I know how difficult it is to lose one’s ability to play.
As I think I’ve stated before, I’m fortunate that I gained enough of my fine motor skills back that I didn’t need any adaptive mechanisms on my horns. That said, none of us knows what the future holds. We should all be grateful that there are craftsmen out there making these types of custom saxophones should we ever need them.