1. Examine all pads for splits and seating, including
octave key pads. Replace as necessary.
2. Check operation of the octave key. Finger G and
operate the octave key. The pad on the neck vent
should remain closed, the pad on the body vent
should open and close. Finger A and operate the
octave key. The pad on the neck vent should open
and close, the pad on the body vent should remain
closed. Lubricate if needed. If it still does
not work correctly, consult a repairman.
3. Finger middle finger C. Check that the little
pad just above the first finger of the left hand
closes. On Yamaha saxes adjust the left stack
screw. On other makes a repairman must shim with
cork or felt.
4. Finger 1-4 and 1-5 Bb. Check for proper adjustment
by depressing the Bis Key. Adjust at the setscrew
just above the F pad.
5. Finger D and work the G# key. The G# pad should
remain closed and the tone should not change.
If the G# pad opens even slightly it will prevent
low C#, B, and Bb from speaking and prevent proper
use of articulated G# fingerings. Adjust the G#
6. For advanced players: Check intonation of low
Eb, D, C#, C, and B. Adjust the felt bumpers.
Use a good tuner for this!
If all else is O.K., doping the pads helps even
on new pads! Old stiff pads are sometimes softened
with pad dopes. Use the Lavoz "Pad Saver" swab.
These two steps will greatly extend pad life,
more than paying for the cost of the pad dope
8. Lube the neck cork with cork grease, Chap Stick,
or Vaseline. I use Singer Sewing Machine Oil on
keys. Oiling the keys twice a year is adequate.
9. Wipe the sax several times a week with a damp
cloth and buff dry. Wax with Pledge several times
a year, or spray with Runyon Lacquer Life. Silver
colored keys on student line saxes are nickel
plated and need no special care, just wipe clean.
10. Never leave the reed and ligature on the mouthpiece
when the instrument is stored. Wash the mouthpiece
daily with lukewarm (never hot) water. At the
very least, wipe dry with a tissue or cloth after
playing. Use a brush if necessary--a Gerber baby
bottle nipple brush works well. Soaking the mouthpiece
overnight in vinegar will remove saliva stains.
Keep a minimum of 4--8 reeds at all times. Keep
reeds in a good reed holder such as Vito or Reedgard IV -
. Never store your reeds in the plastic
"Novapack" containers that reeds come packaged
in. Never play the same reed two days in a row.
Play reeds on a rotation schedule and they will
last much longer. Wrap the mouthpiece and neck
in soft cloths (old gym socks work well) or commercial
neck and mouthpiece bags. Do not allow them to
rattle around loose in the accessory compartment
of the case. Mouthpieces are often damaged beyond
repair this way.
11. When transporting your instrument on the bus (or
shipping) place bubble wrap in the case around
the sax and accessories. Do not use a "Gig Bag"
unless you are willing to hand carry your instrument
at all times and hold it in your lap for trips.
Compact "Flight Cases" are available that have
minimum size and the strength necessary to protect
your instrument. I can recommend the SKB Contoured Pro Sax cases (my personal choice), the Winter Flight Cases , Pro Pac Contoured Cases by Pro Tec,
and the Selmer Walt Johnson Gig (used by
the Air Force's Airmen of Note). These are all