Saxophone Cleaning and Care

Your saxophone will go through a lot of wear and tear the more you use it and the older it gets, but luckily there are several things you can do to keep it looking shiny and sounding brand new. Here are a few tips to help you get the longest life out of your instrument:

Polishing Up the Outside:

Once you gently take your saxophone apart, use a non-scratch microfiber polishing cloth to remove lingering fingerprints, oil, and dirt from the outside of the mouthpiece, neck, main body, and keys. This type of soft cloth will not scratch or loosen the finish.

Cleaning Out the Inside:

Saliva accumulates in all woodwind instruments. When left untouched, it can ruin multiple parts, including the pads and leather, and can cause unwanted air leaks. One simple solution to this problem is the use of a Padgard which easily slides in and out, and removes moisture from the body.

For the neck, a similar, smaller product like the Necksaver will do the trick. Pass it through the top of the neck, then push and twist it all the way through, pulling it out the other end.

Once you’re done and the Padgard and Necksaver are completely dry, you can store them respectively inside the body and neck of the saxophone to prevent them from bending or getting dirty. Just remember to remove them the next time you play.

The mouthpiece is a delicate component which must be cleansed of saliva, germs, and grease. D’Addario and their brand Rico work hard to perfect the shape and performance of each mouthpiece they produce, and taking care of this piece is essential to preserving its sound quality. You should clean out the inside of your mouthpiece thoroughly using a soft cleaning cloth like the microfiber type used to clean the outside. While playing, a mouthpiece patch or bite pad will prevent permanent damage from teeth marks. Choose from a range of thicknesses and replace these non-abrasive stickers as your teeth wear through them to ensure your mouthpiece remains unscathed. During storage and transportation, a mouthpiece cap will protect its tip.

Reeds are often very fragile, especially those carved from cane. You may organize and protect your reeds inside a compact reed case, and preserve them with reed vitalizer – a humidification control that prevents warping and cracking.

Other Useful Accessories:

Sometimes attaching the mouthpiece to your saxophone can be quite a workout! Cork grease, however, lessens this struggle. Usually available in a convenient, chapstick-like tube, it lubricates the cork on the neck. Once applied evenly around the entire cork, this makes it much easier to affix the mouthpiece to the neck, and prevents the cork from tearing (and having to be replaced). Similarly, a few drops of key oil will keep your keys moving responsively and stop them from sticking.

Storing your saxophone in the proper case offers protection when you’re not playing and when you’re traveling. The case should be molded and have separate indentations for the body, neck, and mouthpiece to keep everything individually cushioned. Grabbing the saxophone by the bell when placing it into the case will eliminate the risk of damaging the keys. You may neatly store the cork grease, polishing cloth, and other small accessories either alongside the body (if there’s room), or in an accessory pouch where they will not spill or bump into the instrument.

As you can see, there are many simple ways to keep your saxophone in mint condition for years to come, and lots of accessory items to help you along the way.

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Tiffany Williams started her musical journey at the age of 7 when she learned to play the keyboard. By the 6th grade the viola became her passion, and she played in her middle and high school string and symphonic orchestras, pit orchestra, and Chamber Ensemble. She has participated in multiple music events and festivals including Music in the Parks and NYSSMA (levels 5/6), and was inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society. In college she played in the string orchestra and was selected to play in the Binghamton Symphonic Orchestra. As a member of the Binghamton Explorchestra she played, conducted, and had the opportunity to showcase two of her own compositions. Pursuing her musical endeavors, she challenges herself to learning other instruments, and has composed 14 songs which are now copyrighted in the U.S. Library of Congress. She continues to play and compose and is delighted to be a part of the Sam Ash team.