12 February, 2020
Inventor Nick Millington’s saxy idea goes global
A Devonport inventor is taking on the world with a new musical instrument.
Nick Millington came up with the idea for the Saxmonica two years ago. Now it has gone global, with 5000 sold into many different countries in the last 18 months.
The Flagstaff first approached Millington for a story on the Saxmonica a couple of years back, but he was reluctant. “I wasn’t sure it was going to work. It could have been a dud, but the opposite has proved true.”
Millington “a jack of all trades and a master of none” has followed the ski slopes and surf spots around the world, doing a variety of jobs, but describes himself these days as an inventor. Along with brother David Millington, he developed the Nu-Klear mirror demister.
The first Saxmonica prototype emerged a few years ago from a piece of plastic piping. Millington enjoyed listening to music and had tried playing instruments, “but had always been a bit of a failure”.
Travelling extensively, he wanted something portable and easy to play.
He knew he was onto something when in Kampot, Cambodia, he started jamming on his Saxmonica with a guitar player and a crowd gathered around.
A Kickstarter campaign was launched in March 2018, with 2300 pledges lodged and 2500 sales in the first 49 days.
Millington got on a plane to Hong Kong and crossed the border to Shenzhen, China, to source a manufacturer. He was playing the Saxmonica on the roadside, when “some gangster-looking dudes” arrived in a car. A fractured conversation ensued. He was picked up later from his hotel, and a contact was made.
The prototype was developed further with the help of Millington’s friend Israeli guitarist Orian Bartov. While it looks like a simple instrument, a lot of time was spent mathematically working out the correct positioning of the finger holes.
The beauty of the instrument is its full sound, compact size, and the ease with which it can be learned – within 28 days is the guarantee.
Millington’s daughter Rio, who describes herself as “dad’s full-time supporter”, was the instrument’s first “guinea pig”. She went to stay with her dad in Cambodia and undertook the 28-day trial.
After which, she says she was able to jam on the Saxmonica with other musicians. She played it travelling all over Asia, including India, jamming with locals and travellers alike.
“It’s a really awesome way of breaking the ice with people.”
Says Nick: “It’s a great friend-maker. If you start playing it, people start gravitating towards you.”
The Saxmonica is not a sophisticated instrument, but simplicity is the whole point. It has two attachments, which allow it to be played in nine different keys.
“It’s a little like paint by numbers: everything you need is in the box. You may not be turning out a Salvador Dali or Michelangelo, but it’s a great introduction to the world of music.” Nick is next off on Saxmonica marketing trips to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
This article originally appeared in the 14 February edition of the Devonport Flagstaff. Download PDF.