Saxxy ™ KAZOO

Saxxy Kazoo, Sharper Image, sythesizer kazoo, original packaging

Dr.Ruddock’s Store on eBay.com

Well this certainly isn’t your grandfather’s kazoo. In 2003 a man by the name of John Jameson pitched the idea of a software-driven kazoo to Sharper Image. This toy would have the ability to convert a child’s hum into digitally rendered versions of saxophone, clarinet, or tuba sounds. Sharper Image liked the idea, and the redesigned Saxxy—as it would be renamed—was launched for the 2003 Christmas season. The price? $50.00 through 140 Sharper Image stores.¹

In what appears to be the original Patent application by Saxxy’s inventor, John Jameson, there is the following description of this synthesizer kazoo:

Note that in the abstract, the instrument is called a Vocolo. After Sharper Image owned the rights to the product, they used the same word in their ad copy.

Here is how the Saxxy was described in some of Sharper Image’s original ad copy:

Saxxy™ is the fun new kazoo — a sophisticated electronic musical instrument that makes it easy for anyone to play a horn! All you do is hum into the mouthpiece and patented Vocolo™ [emphasis added] technology responds with accurately synthesized digital sounds of a saxophone, a tuba or a clarinet. Just press a button to pick your horn . . .

With the graceful Saxxy in your hands, you’ll enjoy the satisfying feel of playing an actual instrument — intimately controlling the pitch and volume of notes with fine nuances of voice or humming . . . Select one of three lively synthesized backbeats.

. . . Generate sounds of bebop or big band, marching or Motown, swing or salsa, and more! . . .

Source: createdigitalmusic.com

As noted above, besides a change in the name from Vocolo to Saxxy, this 21st century kazoo also got redesigned. This is how it was envisioned by its inventor, and depicted in the original Patent application:

Source: google.com/patents

The actual Saxxy kazoo that made it to market looked more like a saxophone than the diagram above does. (Hey, a Saxello does qualify as a sax, even if it is soprano.)  ;)    Also, note the difference in mouthpieces.

Saxxy, synthesizer kazoo by Sharper Image

According to one seller on eBay, this high-tech kazoo is 13″ long, with a 3″ diameter speaker. Note that the control buttons on the Saxxy were redesigned as well from the Patented Vocolo.

Saxxy Kazoo, Sharper Image, sythesizer kazoo,

Source: Long Play Games And Records on eBay.com

Parents would likely have been very appreciative of the earphone jack.

Saxxy Kazoo, Sharper Image, sythesizer kazoo,

Source: Long Play Games And Records on eBay.com

Saxxy Kazoo, Sharper Image, sythesizer kazoo,

Source: Long Play Games And Records on eBay.com

Another seller on eBay still had the original instruction manual with this toy instrument.

Source: keb67 on eBay.com

So what does it sound like you ask? Well thanks to YouTube, you can find out if you want to track down one of these Saxxy instruments for your very own. Take it away Captain Kazoo….

I wonder if he had had the mouthpiece, if it would have sounded any better?

In case anyone is interested, here are some photos of the original box that these Saxxy synthesizer kazoos came in.

Source: cyn on eBay.com

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¹ Source: CNN Money article, Why Sharper Image Is Playing The Hits Again  The company got back its cool–and its healthy stock price–by making more down-to-earth products with spectacular profit margins, by Jonathan Thaw.