Saxophone Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Saxophone Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

There’s smooth and then there is Saxophone-smooth. This instrument has influenced rock, jazz, blues, and even classical music and it’s sweet sound has even earned it a second name… the Devil’s Horn! In this article, we’re going to talk about the Sax and Saxophone tattoos, touching on their history and meaning, and even some designs.

Let’s take a closer look at the Devil’s Horn and what it really means in the world of skin art!

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What is the History of Saxophone Tattoos?

The Saxophone has been around a relatively short time in history, give or take about 180 years now. The creation of the instrument itself was achieved by one Adolph Saxe, a Belgian man who was incredibly accident prone.

Stories tell us that in his youth, he was hit by a falling brick, right in the head, sometimes fell down stairs, once swallowed a needle, and even fell on a lit stove on a particularly unlucky day. The poor man even drank sulfuric acid by mistake once but despite Fate’s conspiracies against him, in 1840 the Saxophone was born.

Sadly, despite it’s sweet, sweet sound, no one of his time took it seriously, considering this woodwind and brass hybrid an unholy thing, but that would all change when the Saxophone came to the United States and found a home in Jazz. By the 1920’s, if you didn’t have a Sax, then you didn’t have real Jazz.

This was great for jazz music, but Classicists hated it because they didn’t respect Jazz, either. In the 1950’s, however, a Saxophonist named Marcel Mule was interviewed for Time magazine and people started taking the Saxophone seriously. Considering its unique sound, it became a powerful symbol that naturally entered the world of skin art.

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What Do Saxophone Tattoos Symbolize?

The Saxophone got that ‘Devil’s Horn’ nickname for good reason. That silky-sound can be sad, sexy, or even both, and that’s just a taste of what it brings to the table in blues, jazz, rock, and eventually, in classical music quartets where it was shunned for so long.

As such, Saxophone tattoos are a popular choice for music fans, although there’s still more symbolism to it. It can symbolize a ‘smooth talker’, once well versed in the art of seduction, and it’s soulful sound also has heavy blues associations and can be used to represent a soul that has suffered.

It is also a symbol of popular culture and it’s receival in the United States was so strong, that the Saxophone also represents wealth and affluence to some degree. This is kind of ironic, considering the uphill climb that Jazz and Blues had to take before gaining full acceptance and the current love for it found around the world.

It’s quite the curious tale: Birthed by an accident-prone Belgian, poo-pooed by Classicists, until it came to it’s true home in the United States and finally got its appreciation. The symbolism is rich and despite it’s origins in Belgium, these days it’s evolved into a symbol of the American musical spirit.

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What Do Saxophone Tattoos Mean?

Saxophone tattoos most often indicate a love of jazz or blues, often accompanying a famous figure from these musical genres such as Cannonball Adderly, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and Stanley Turrentine.

You’re not limited to depicting the masters of this woodwind-brass beast, as Saxophone tattoos could also be worn as a sort of ‘seduction badge’ or if you are a Sax player yourself, then it would be a fitting homage to your devotion to this silky, sexy horn.

It’s even got rock and classical ties, but most often Saxophone tattoos are going to mean simple appreciation. It really boils down to how you depict it, what you add next to it, and what you incorporate into the Saxophone itself in your own custom design.

Think about what the Sax means to you and what it says about you and you’ve got the beginnings of a stellar Saxophone tattoo design.

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Characteristics and Styles of Saxophone Tattoos

Saxophones may be depicted in quite a lot of different ways, depending on what you wish to say. You could go with the ‘Devil’s horn’ depiction, with a devil playing the sax, or depict the instrument by itself with golden notes floating forth from the horn.

A silhouette of someone, especially a famous musician, playing the Sax is another popular Saxophone tattoo option, and Saxophone tattoos with the name of a particular performance and date are a great way to always remember a mind-blowing blues or jazz performance.

Styles are versatile with this instrument. You could depict it realistically or exaggerate it with New School style to reflect the epic influence that the instrument fought so hard to obtain.

Think about what you’re trying to say and the perfect design and style will come to you – we recommend settling down and giving it a good think with a session of your favorite Sax-heavy music!

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Where Do Saxophone Tattoos Usually Go?

The upper arm or shoulder is a popular placement for the Saxophone. Sax players and fans typically aren’t shy about it, so it’s often placed somewhere that it’s going to be seen. For huge fans, the back might even be a perfect placement, as you’ll have a lot more room to work with.

A hip-placed Saxophone tattoo is not unheard of, either. After all, this instrument got its ‘sinful’ reputation for a reason, and a whole lot of lovin’ around the world had a strong, silky Sax in the background.

Once you’ve got your design planned, you’ll know where to put it – just see where the music takes you you’ll know exactly where it’s gonna go!

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In conclusion: Nothing says it like Saxophone Tattoos

Probably the most seductive instrument out there, the Saxophone had an enormous uphill climb but it definitely made its way to the top. In the hands of the right musician, this instrument can get the heart beating fast and temptation can be almost irresistible.

Fans of the Sax know this and for those folks, nothing but a Saxophone tattoo can ‘say it right’!

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