Saxophone/sticking keys


I got a new soprano saxophone and some keys are sticking.  The sticking isn't constant, but it seems to happen most with the notes B or C (above middle C).  What causes the sticking?  It is a new instrument. I'm also taking care in how I put the instrument together.  Thanks, Joel


Pads stick for a number of reasons...mainly because of either condensation and/or residue buildup from playing. Humidity can make things worse, and believe it or not the pads own natural oil can even cause gunk to build up on the rim of the tone hole. Also, the springs for the notes B and Bis (which C engages) as well as the G# key - are often set with less tension so they are often unable to re-open with even the slightest bit of resistance.

Assembly has nothing to do with it, but cleaning and maintenance does. Be sure you swab out the bore after each use. Try to avoid eating, smoking, or drinking anything syrupy as you play. Before you go out and buy pad powder or pad dope, try this:

Play the horn a bit then slide a piece of paper (I like to cut a brown paper bag into tapered trips) under the pad that's sticking, press the pad down firmly and gently work the paper back and forth as you pull it out. You will often see some residue rings on the paper. Repeat until the paper remains clean.

You can also clean the tone hole rim with a little rubbing alcohol on a q-tip swab. Just carefully work it along the edge of the tone hole to remove any gunk.

Good luck and keep me posted!  


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Eugene Cantera


I have been a music educator for over 25 years and have taught on many levels from young children and school agers on through to college level, professional players and senior citizens. My main areas of expertise are saxophone(s) though I have taught many instruments including, guitar, bass, piano, oboe and drums to name a few. I have also done research on horns both vintage and new.


I have been in music education for 25 years and I have written and published in the subject of professional music education.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, Marketing and Higher Education Newsletter.

Bachelor of Music Education, Hartt School of Music - The University of Hartford.

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