HistoryThe saxophone was created by Adolphe Sax of Belgium in 1840, and was first utilized in orchestras in 1844. In military bands, saxophones are traditionally used instead of clarinets. The saxophone was a vital instrument in 20th century United States, where it was associated with the ever-expanding development of jazz music. Some famous saxophonists include Charlie “Bird” Parker, who played alto, John Coltrane, and Coleman Hawkins, who played tenor.
Care and Maintenance – click here for video
When assembling and disassembling the saxophone, hold the instrument in an area without keys if possible. The keys are delicate, and key damage can make the saxophone completely unplayable.
Before assembling the saxophone, moisten the thinner end of the reed and grease the cork on the neck if necessary. Attach the instrument to the strap. Remove the end plug.
Place the mouthpiece on the neck, leaving about half the cork in view. Orient the mouthpiece so the flat side on the bottom. Attach the ligature, and slide the reed behind it, centering the reed with the flat portion of the mouthpiece. Leave only a small part of the mouthpiece visible above the reed. Taking care not to over-tighten, tighten the ligature screws.
The most important step in caring for the saxophone is to clean the instrument with a swab by pulling it through the inside. This should be done every time you play, immediately after use. Swabs are vital for removing moisture and aiding the drying of the pads, which decay if not properly dried after playing. Order saxophone swabs through the director.
Clean the outside of the saxophone with a soft cloth.
If you’ve been sick, it is important to wash the mouthpiece and replace the reed before playing again. Rinse mouthpieces in warm, soapy water and clean with a brush. Do not use water or a wet cloth to clean any portion of the instrument except the mouthpiece and reed.
When disassembling the saxophone, remove the reed from the mouthpiece so as to not accidentally break it. Once removed, wipe off the reed and store it in the reed guard that accompanies all rental saxophones.
Always handle saxophone reeds by the “fat” part, not the thin tip. Take care not to catch the reed on your shirt, your teeth, music stands, or neighboring players.
Periodically examine your reed for black spots or a darkness in color. These are signs of an old, moldy reed that should be discarded and replaced. With proper care, regular cleaning and brushing, a reed should last about two weeks.
Finally, always keep extra reeds at home and in your case to prevent missing practice time.