Maintenance Improves Tone

Have You Ever Asked Any of the Following Questions?

  • Does my saxophone need periodic maintenance?
  • Will this make a difference in my playing?
  • How often should I take my saxophone in to be repaired?
  • Do I really need to take it in for repair if the saxophone seems fine?

Even though this may not be the most exciting topic, having a well maintained instrument will help you sound better. It will help you improve faster too!


The better maintained the saxophone is, the easier it will be for you to sound good. If a few things are off with your saxophone, it could be difficult to:

  • Get notes to respond quickly/easily
  • Get some notes to play at all
  • Play in tune

In short, if the saxophone is not maintained properly, you’ll be fighting with the saxophone rather than focusing on the music.

It’s Metal- What Could Go Wrong?

Yes, the saxophone may be a little more durable than some other instruments, but the metal can still bend. This can cause issues you may not notice, to larger issues where the saxophone won’t play at all. A repair technician will be able to discover where the saxophone is bent, even if you can’t.

Saxophone Maintenance

Saxophone pad in key cup.

Keep in mind that the whole saxophone isn’t metal, and the main culprit that causes the need for saxophone repair is the pad (leather pad placed in each key cup- see image to the right). 

On any saxophone, all pads end up warping or wearing out over time. Why? Because they are:

  • Leather
  • Exposed to moisture and then dry out-daily
  • Affected by extreme temperatures

For these reasons the pads warp and cause air to leak. When you push a key down to play a note, the pad should completely seal against the tone hole. If not, leaking occurs. If there is leaking, then the note can become more difficult or impossible to play. We don’t want the saxophone to be more difficult to play, so make sure your pads are sealing correctly.

How to Make Sure Pads are Sealing

As a beginner, this may not be something you’ll be able to identify visually.  A repair technician can fix this issue easily and will make sure each pad is sealing correctly. Here are some additional reasons to take your instrument to the repair shop:

Take it In

  • If the saxophone has become more difficult to play
  • If it’s been a year since it has been worked on by a technician
  • If you just purchase a used instrument
  • If any part of the metal is dinged or bent
  • If anything falls off (always an easy indicator)

Be a Better Player

If the saxophone is not functioning properly, then your practice sessions may be very discouraging (keep in mind, some beginners may not be able to tell if all is functioning properly, and they blame themselves when at times, it’s the saxophone). If your saxophone is in top shape you’ll have an easier time progressing, and you’ll sound a lot better. You’ll have more fun too!


Have you ever had maintenance performed on your saxophone? Please share if you have, and how it made a difference. Use the comment section below!

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