Saxophone/repair info


Dear Charles,
   I have an old Alto Sax and have been playing 13 yrs and in school. I found an air leak on my low c i can't seem to be able to stop the leak and don't have the funds to pay for the repair. The pad still looks brand new and I've twerked around with how it lays, nothing seems to work. please help!!!!

         a concerned student

Let me ask before we begin how is the pad leaking? Is the pad not sitting evenly on the tone hole chimney causing one side of the pad to leak, or is it out of alignment with the chimney? Look at the pad and notice the impression seat. This is the ring in the pad where it rest on the tone hole. There should only be one impression. If there is only one, but the key is not sealing properly see solution 1 below. If you have 2 "or more" seats see solution 2.

1) Your pad cup or pad is no longer level with the tone hole. Often this is the result of the pad cup getting bent, by catching on clothing or something else. The obvious solution is to bend it back. This sometimes works, but often the pad will be a little out of alignment regardless of how carefully you try to correct the key. What you are going to have to do is if possible remove the key guard. You will need a leak light to find the leak. (Christmas tree lights work great). Light a candle and then hold the horn with the low C directly above the flame. You will need to hold the low C closed with something that will not burn, and use a very light touch. If you force it you will get a false positive and the pad will still leak. Allow the heat to melt the glue that holds the pad in the cup. As the glue heats, the air under the pad will rise (hot air rises). This will float the pad back to it's original position in the key cup. When you can not see any light, remove the flame, but continue to hold the pad closed. Remember to use light pressure. Once the pad cools check again to make sure the pad is not leaking. If this does not work, you may need to see a tech.     

2) If the pad has more than one ring where it is has contacted the tone hole, than your key has shifted position. Unfortunately you will need to see a tech to correct this. More than likely there is body damage somewhere in that area. Look at the post near the bottom of the horn where the Low C and Eb keys are mounted. It's not uncommon for that post to take a hit and then get forced into the body. You may have to remove the keys and look/feel the inside of the body under that post to find the dent. When this happens the low C will shift it's geometry and there is nothing your going to be able to do except have that dent removed and the pad replaced. The good thing is this should be a very quick and inexpensive repair. Let me know where you are and I'll see if I can find a tech in your area that may be able to help you out.

Charles Harris.  


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Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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