No, it doesn’t look like a saxophone. Heck, it barely looks like a musical instrument. The Roland Aerophone GO, however, is every bit the wind instrument it claims to be, albeit with electronic guts that give it the kind of versatility and portability that you just don’t get from a regular sax.
An electronic saxophone, it recreates the instrument in a more compact and lightweight form, allowing you to have a smaller and lighter alternative to the big and heavy sax you’d otherwise use. No, it doesn’t actually sound good enough to replace an actual saxophone for live shows and recordings, but if you need a practice sax with a portable size, adjustable volume, and even a headphone jack (so only you can hear your ruckus), it definitely does the trick.
The Roland Aerophone GO recreates the key and lever placements in a regular saxophone (complete with a transpose function), albeit replacing them with more conventional buttons, allowing you to play any piece you’d normally do on a sax in a similar manner. Simply put, experienced players can employ all the same fingering and playing techniques they’ve long been using. It pairs those buttons to a sensitive mouthpiece-mounted breath and bite sensor with authentic breath control, which should allow you to perform expressive techniques like vibrato and pitch.
It comes with 11 onboard instrument sounds, namely four saxophone variations (alto, tenor, soprano, and baritone), flute, clarinet, violin, mute trumpet, saw lead, square lead, and percussion, allowing you to practice different instruments using just a single rig. Pair it with a smartphone and get access to 50 more different instrument sounds via the companion app (Aerophone GO Plus), including wood winds, brass, strings, synth, and drums. There’s even an SFX set, in case you want to do some weird and wonky tunes.
The Roland Aerophone GO has built-in speakers that allow you to play it as a standalone instrument, complete with a 3.5mm jack, so you can plug in your headphones when practicing while everybody else is asleep. That means, no more limitations with time and place – you can work on your sax skills, whether you’re in the studio, at home, or in the line at the DMV. Basically, it’s one of those practice drum pads for saxophone players, albeit one that you can take with you on the go.
It measures 17.9 x 5 x 3.1 inches (height x width x depth) and weighs 1.6 pounds, so while it’s far from pocketable, it can easily slip inside a bag without adding much heft. It comes with a nice soft gig case, too, so you have a place to keep it protected when you’re on the move. The instrument is powered by four AA batteries, so as long as you keep spares in your bag, you can quickly swap in a fresh set (or run to the nearest mini-mart) whenever you’re running low. Suffice to say, it’s a convenient tool to have for saxophone players.
The Roland Aerophone GO is available now.
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