Playing the Saxophone
Producing Sound With Your Saxophone
Sound is produced on a saxophone when the player produces a stream of air across the tip of the reed, causing it to vibrate. The frequency of the vibration is determined by the distance the air must travel before escaping from the saxophone.
Tone holes are carefully positioned on the body of the instrument to create the best intonation possible for each note. As each key is pressed, its pad (soft leather disk under the key) stops the airflow through that tone hole. The pitch gets lower as the distance the air must travel increases.
The saxophone family includes soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes. Most players begin on the alto sax and then branch out to learn the others.
Saxophone Care and Maintenance
Before you play:
- Place the thin end of your reed in your mouth to moisten it while you assemble the rest of the saxophone.
- If the cork on the neck is dry, rub a small amount of cork grease on it.
- Lift the body of your saxophone out of the case by the bell.
- Hold the body of the saxophone with your left hand. Loosen the neck screw, and remove the end plug. Gently twist the neck into the body with your right hand, taking care not to bend the octave key. Tighten the neck screw.
- Twist the mouthpiece gently onto the neck so that it covers approximately ½ of the cork.
- Put your ligature on the mouthpiece and then slide the thick end of the reed under the ligature, and align the tip of the reed with the tip of the mouthpiece. Tighten the ligature screws to hold the reed in place.
- Put the neck strap around your neck and attach the hook to the ring on the back of the saxophone. Adjust the length of the strap so you can comfortably put the mouthpiece in your mouth.
After you play:
- Disassemble your saxophone in reverse order above.
- Use your swab to remove moisture from inside your saxophone’s body and neck. Drop the weighted end and string down the bell and turn the instrument upside down so the weight falls through the body; pull the swab through the body to absorb the moisture.
- Remove the reed from your mouthpiece and place it in your reed holder.
- Use a lacquer polish cloth to wipe the fingerprints off your saxophone.
- Put your saxophone in its case and fasten both latches.
- Check for loose objects in your case that could bounce into your saxophone, scratching or denting it. Don't put anything on top of your saxophone in its case.
- Clean your mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush and warm water.
- Clean the finish of your saxophone thoroughly with a saxophone polish cloth.
- Use a small key brush to clean the dust and dirt between the keys.
- Wash out your swab or replace it with a new one.
- Apply a small amount of key oil to the pivot points of your keys. To apply the right amount, put a drop of oil on a piece of paper; then dip a toothpick into it and touch it to the pivot points on your saxophone.
- Bring your saxophone to the Amro repair shop at least once a year and whenever you feel it's not playing its best. The technicians will inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait. And if you have Amro’s Maintenance & Replacement plan, any adjustments and repair it needs are free.