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The making of our new tenor saxophone

Something’s cooking in the Amsterdam Winds laboratory. Years of obsessive tinkering, design work, building, testing, failing, re-trying and re-making has led to a tenor saxophone ready for the main stage.
We have been building our own tenor now for three years. Thereby trying to combine our proven mechanical innovations with the characteristics of the best instruments of the past, in order to produce a truly professional instrument that adheres to the highest standards in terms of tuning, resistance and intonation. During the developmental process we obtained feedback from some of the world’s best saxophone players.

I just used Friso’s tenor saxophone prototype for an entire 90 minutes outdoor festival gig, and it ‘passed the test' with flying colors! I never once felt the need (or even the inclination) to reach for my beloved, trusted Super Balanced Action. Friso’s horn was a joy to play: powerful, expressive and expansive, yet at the same time focused, balanced and grounded, with remarkable consistency of sound and intonation from bottom to top. I believe Friso is making a world-class instrument, with an exceptionally bright future.

Joshua RedmanJuly, 2019

I’ve known Friso for quite some time, he’s a meticulous craftsman and is always striving for excellence beyond what he’s already achieved. This commitment to quality is reflected in his tenor, it’s a beautiful instrument, very free-blowing, rich-sounding, and crafted with great care from bottom to top, check it out!

Chris Potter2017

When you are going to surpass the Super Balanced Actions and the Mark VI's, which Friso has succeeded in doing, then you are indeed a hero.

Ben van den Dungen2020

My friend Friso Heidinga has always been the guy to go to when you are in Amsterdam and need work done on your horn. But he has taken it to the next level by creating his own saxophone. On a recent gig at the Jazz Keller in Frankfurt, fellow tenor man Tony Lakatos played Friso's horn and sounded as great as he always does on his vintage Selmer Mark VI. After the concert I tried it and was thoroughly impressed. It played, responded and sounded like a vintage instrument. And what's more promising is that its still a prototype. He continues to make adjustments and improvements. I look forward to playing the finished product. It promises to me a welcome addition to saxophone world.

Rick Margitza2017

The Amsterdam Winds tenor is a successful attempt at a modern high end tenor sax with heritage from the illustrious models of the past. It has a full, rich, very vibrant sound, perhaps more reminiscent of a King Super 20, yet with a nod to the feel and response of the greatest Selmers. Unlike most new saxes, this really, really vibrates and projects with complexity and richness - even in the softer dynamic levels. I’d say it plays large with a bold confidence, but absolutely not one-dimensionally. I thoroughly enjoy its dynamic potential and its response to whatever I am trying to achieve. There is a sense of boosted presence in the upper mid frequencies compared to the horns I came from (Selmer Radio Improved, Selmer SBA, Selmer Mark VI). I have more cutting power and ease of blending with the brass. Intonation is very, very good. Stability is on par with the best in the business. Altissimo is where you want it to be if you come from French platform horns, and pops out with ease. I look forward to really connecting with it in the years to come, knowing this is the last tenor I’ll ever need!

Børge-Are HalvorsenJune 2020

Joshua Redman

The cooperation between Joshua and Friso started in late 2016 when Joshua visited the Amsterdam Winds studio to try out Friso’s very first tenor saxophone prototype. Although Josh really liked the sax, he did make several critical observations. Friso then worked until late in the evening to adjust the instrument to his wishes. The next day Josh tried the instrument during the sound check of his concert he was to play that evening with Brad Mehldau, and to his complete surprise saw that his recommendations had already been partially adapted to the instrument.
Joshua and Friso then started an extended collaboration in which Joshua tested every improvement to the prototype while Friso continued to learn and develop the instrument. The reference point was always Joshua’s own vintage Selmer Super Balanced Action, the very best sax from his personal collection that he has played exclusively for the past 10 years. After having played various stages of our prototype numerous times over the years – of which five times live in concert – Josh concluded last July that our prototype now has reached a state that it ‘passed the test with flying colors’ and that he ‘never once felt the need (or even the inclination) to reach for his beloved, trusted Super Balanced Action’. In his words our tenor saxophone is now ‘definitely ready’.
Free Wind tenor saxophone

Fantastic voyage

During the three year testing process the prototype has made a small European tour already. We traveled to Switzerland, Germany, England and Belgium visiting of course Joshua Redman, but also Chris Potter, Branford Marsalis, Chris Cheek, Rick Margitza and Tony Lakatos giving them the opportunity to play the prototype in its various stages. Over here at home in Amsterdam the prototype was extensively tested by Ben van den Dungen, Yuri Honing and Simon Rigter. Adjustments to the design were made in many different steps until the instrument was able to handle itself beautifully in the hands of some of the best artists around today.

Free Wind tenor saxophone

Our New Tenor Saxophone

We recently finished building our first prototypes.  Currently we are working on setting up a very small scale full European hand-made production of the instrument. Please contact us for more information or if you would like to be informed when the instrument is ready to be ordered.

Friso Heidinga holding a new Free Wind Tenor Saxophone

Nice to know:

Free Wind Saxophones are our core product. Unlike many others who might run a saxophone shop, trading, selling and repairing all sorts of instruments in many different ranges while selling their own labeled line of instruments, our only goal is to deliver the best handmade saxophones possible.

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