The saxophone (also referred to as the sax) is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846. He wanted to create an instrument that would both be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds and the most adaptive of the brass, which would fill the vacant middle ground between the two sections. He patented the sax on June 28, 1846 in two groups of seven instruments each. Each series consisted of instruments of various sizes in alternating transposition.
While proving very popular in military band music, the saxophone is most commonly associated with jazz and classical music. There is substantial repertoire of concert music in the classical idiom for the members of the saxophone family.
Although not true saxophones, inexpensive keyless folk versions of the saxophone made of bamboo were developed in the 20th century by instrument makers in Hawaii, Jamaica, Thailand, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Argentina. The Hawaiian instrument, called a xaphoon, was invented during the 1970s and is also marketed as a "bamboo sax," although its cylindrical bore more closely resembles that of a clarinet, and its lack of any keywork makes it more akin to a recorder. Jamaica's best known exponent of a similar type of homemade bamboo "saxophone" was the mento musician and instrument maker 'Sugar Belly' (William Walker). In the Minahasa region of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, there exist entire bands made up of bamboo "saxophones" and "brass" instruments of various sizes. These instruments are clever imitations of European instruments, made using local materials. Very similar instruments are produced in Thailand. In Argentina, Ángel Sampedro del Río and Mariana García have produced bamboo saxophones of various sizes since 1985, the larger of which have bamboo keys to allow for the playing of lower notes.
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