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I have been thinking about buying a xaphoon for a while. I have no experience with wind instruments of any kind (well, I can play the sweetflute) so I don't know whether to pick the C key or the Bb key for the xaphoon.

I guess that the C xaphoon would be more suitable to play pop/rock/popular melodies and songs but on the other hand, perhaps the Bb xaphoon would sound better when playing 'more saxophongy stuff' (some jazz standars or even some clasical pieces...) which would take the most out of the instrument since the xaphoon is kind of a pocket sax/clarinet (not my words). What are the differences between the two that I should consider in making my choice?

  • Welcome to Music Practice and Theory! If you haven't already, please take the tour and visit the help centre. Answers to your question are likely to be opinion based, since the choice depends purely on what music you want to play and your personal preferences. I have voted to close this post because questions asking for opinions are off topic on stack exchange – Aric Aug 24 '18 at 13:46
  • No, it's not a spoof, it's a real instrument ! The question is acceptable in that the OP is asking which key would be the best for playing general stuff, given there are several options. – Tim Aug 24 '18 at 13:53
  • Not sure who said it was a spoof, but I own a pocket sax. – The Chaz 2.0 Aug 24 '18 at 14:05
  • I've edited the last sentence to remove the request for opinions. I think it's overall a good question - it's interesting that they offer both kinds and understanding why they do and what should inform the choice between them is valuable, I believe. – Todd Wilcox Aug 24 '18 at 14:10
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    @TheChaz2.0 = no-one said it was a spoof, but I suspected it, not having heard of the odd-named instrument, and thought it could be a reason to close. Fickle is never far away! – Tim Aug 24 '18 at 17:27
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If you are going to play from dots, there are two options. The C xaphoon (like any C instrument) will play in the correct key for any music written for piano, guitar and such like. So if there's a piece in, say, F, you play it as writ, it comes out at concert pitch.

The Bb instrument will be good if you wish to play stuff written for Bb instruments - tenor sax, trumpet, which will then translate if you play what's written, into the correct pitch to match the rest of the band. For example, a song in F would be written for a Bb instrument in key G, to compensate.

If you purely want to play by yourself, it won't make a lot of difference, although the lower the key,(for the wont of a better expression), the richer the sound might be. Reasoning is the instrument will be slightly larger.

And, thank you for enlightening us about an instrument that I at least, hadn't heard of before.

EDIT: right now, I'm trying to ascertain whether there is any fine tuning, and also whether they're tuned to concert A=440Hz, probably an important factor if there's no fine tuning, depending where in the world it gets played with others.

  • My take is that the C one would be better in general for most people while the Bb one is best for musicians who already play Bb instruments and want to easily work it into their palette of sounds. – Todd Wilcox Aug 24 '18 at 14:11
  • correct me if i am wrong but the fingering is the same. So if price and durability is an issue factor that in. if the OP doesn't plan to play along with recordings or with other musicians, does it matter which they get? – b3ko Aug 24 '18 at 15:55
  • @b3ko - that's right. Not a scrap of difference. But needs change, and often budding musos often end up wanting to do both of these things. I did, didn't you? – Tim Aug 24 '18 at 16:16
  • @tim i wanted to be in a band from the get go. i am guessing there are people out there that want to play for their own pleasure, to relax, to fill some void, but have no desire to play with others. – b3ko Aug 24 '18 at 17:07
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Another factor which hasn't been mentioned is that the xaphoon, while capable of playing chromatically (all twelve tones) is much easier to play in its home key. You have to do a fair amount of lip work to get the accidentals (notes outside the home key) to sound in tune. So it would help if you knew what keys you're more likely to be playing in- flatter keys will be easier on the Bb, sharper keys on the C instrument.

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I think the answer depends on your needs and wants. some things to consider:

Bamboo is available in "keys of C, Bb, D, and low G" Plastic is available "in the key of "C," and in many colors"

  1. the "pocket" (plastic) instrument is much cheaper (around half the price)
  2. plastic may be more durable and less susceptible to humidity and other natural factors.
  3. you say you play the sweet flute (which is the same as a recorder, i think). if you play a soprano which is played in C, then i would recommend going with C unless you want to learn an instrument in a different key. check out the fingering charts to see if it matches up.
  4. If you only want to play by yourself (without other musicians or recordings) then the key doesn't really matter. but as Tim points out in a comment above, your desire to not play with others may change over time.

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