Sax First Aid


"DeanoTheSaxman" (Hampshire, U.K.)

Sax First Aid:


By blowing, a lot of moisture enters the saxophone. This moisture (condense water & saliva) consists of a lot of sugars and other sticky substances. It also sticks to the pads. Especially the keys that are closed when in rest can become very sticky. The upper keys, G-sharp (left little finger) and the low D-sharp (right little finger) suffer a lot from this problem. The high keys and the low D-sharp are pressed open manually, but the G-sharp has to be opened by a spring. This can give problems. The solution: dry the saxophone thoroughly after playing and do the above mentioned keys, if necessary, extra; use absorbing tissue paper. Clean the pads and the rim of the socket with a cotton bud, soapy luke warm water or methylated spirit. When the pad is dry, talcum powder it a bit with a cotton bud. Usually the above mentioned pads have to be replaced sooner than the others. You can tighten the spring that opens the G-sharp key extra. BUT then you will often also have to tighten the contra spring (the one closing the key). And the left little finger already suffers so much from being the underdog...


Either one of the octave keys or one of the high keys are open. If the octave key on top of the neck is open; bend it a little. Just take the neck with one hand and with the other bend the key towards the keyhole. The octave mechanism is rather fragile because at this point two parts of the sax are slid into each other. These parts frequently get abused. For instance when you put the sax back in its case. Therefore, always use an octave key protector (the black cap). It is also possible that one of the upper keys is bent because it has bumped up against something. Just bend it carefully back. Preferably in such a way that the pad exactly fits the socket. A real high pitched tone is usually caused by the reed and / or the mouthpiece.


Every key has a spring that constantly pushes the key in its resting position. By accident these springs can jump off the hook. Hook it back on with a crochet hook or a pair of tweezers. In case of a broken spring: have it repaired professionally. Temporary you can perfectly solve this problem by using a piece of elastic.


A piece of cork or felt bumper is missing or has fallen off. Glue it back on again. Not too thick, not too thin. A metal on metal click caused by play in the rod is more serious. Sometimes it can be remedied by oiling the rod extra, otherwise you should let a craftsman attend to it.