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Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH
Tel: 01900 813200
Mob: 07718 394355
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Saxophone Care And Maintenance
by Steve Marshall


Care should be taken when assembling the instrument. Damage often occurs to instruments during assembly.

It is best to put on your sling first. Then pick up the sax and attach it to the sling. Then attach the crook. Take care not to over-tighten the crook screw! It can snap the screw or damage the joint.

Attach the mouthpiece using a little cork grease on the cork if it is tight.

After playing return the instrument to its case!


Cork grease is used for two reasons.

  • It helps the joints slip together, and
  • it protects the cork from rotting.

(Petroleum jelly should not be used on clarinets as it does not protect the cork and it can react with glue or oil on the instrument)

Apply a small amount of cork grease to the cork and rub in with a finger. It should leave a slippy surface so the parts will fit together smoothly. If the grease is really sticky it may be better to stop using this and find a different brand.

Cork grease should be applied in small amounts and only as and when required. If there is too much cork grease it can build up and be transferred to the mechanism and case.

There are various small pieces of cork on the mechanism of the saxophone. These are there for a purpose! It can be tempting to pick away at them when not playing an instrument: DON'T! It may cause the keys to become noisy or may even prevent the clarinet from playing at all.


When cleaning a sticky pad, make sure that the pad surface is dry using cigarette papers or Yamaha cleaning paper. N.B. Do not pull the paper through.

Yamaha powder papers can be used to prevent pads from sticking. Apply light pressure to the pad as the paper is pulled through. Puff or blow away excess powder. Graphite may be applied to flute tone hole surfaces as an alternative to help to cure sticking pads.


Music books and sheets of music should not be stored in instrument cases (unless there is a specific compartment). It can damage the mechanism.

Loose objects in the case should be kept to a minimum. Severe damage can be incurred when objects (e.g., reed cutters, pencils, empty reed cases) are compressed against an instrument body when closing the case lid. Don't let empty reed cases gather!

Instrument cases should be secure and in good condition. Clasps, hinges and handles may be oiled occasionally to prolong effective operation.

Cases in poor condition should be repaired or replaced.


Polish should NOT be applied.

Instrument bodies that are dusty can be brushed down using a previously unused 2" paint brush. (Care should be taken not to dislodge springs).

bore (Inside the instrument)

Instruments should be swabbed out after use using lint-free cloth or chamois leather pullthrough. Ensure new pullthroughs are unfolded fully.

Padsavers drive moisture on to pads instead of taking it away from them, and also leave deposits of fluff which gets on the mechanism and onto pads. They do however keep the inside of the saxophone quite clean so it is far better to use a Padsaver than nothing.

Well made pullthroughs are best.


Mechanism can be cleaned after use using a clean lint-free cloth.

Silver plated keywork may be cleaned using a silver polishing cloth. These are impregnated with an anti-tarnish agent.
Polish should not be used.

OILING - mechanism

It is necessary for instrument mechanisms to be oiled like any other machinery. It is usual to have this done by your repairer as part of an annual service.

If applying oil yourself, great care should be taken as some oils can rot corks, cause glued parts to become unstuck and react with some cork greases to solidify. Only tiny amounts appliied with a pin are necessary.


Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH

Phone: 01900 813200

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