Properly caring for your saxophone is instrumental to keep it hygienic in its best shape. Learning how to clean a saxophone is something you should learn right away. It’s an important skill that you’re going to want to master right away for the sake of your instrument and yourself.
Keeping your saxophone clean can even save you money. A dirty instrument can easily become damaged and require costly repairs. Get yourself a saxophone cleaning kit and follow these easy steps to keep your instrument in the best possible condition.
Cleaning A Saxophone
Cleaning a saxophone may seem difficult or overwhelming. The body of the saxophone is large and curvy which makes it appear to be much more intimidating than it actually is.
All that’s needed is a set of saxophone cleaning brushes and an instrument cleaning swab. These supplies can often be found together as a saxophone cleaning kit. While some may argue that just the brush or the swab alone will be just fine, the best way to ensure that everything is optimally cleaned is to use both.
Always start by taking the saxophone apart. The only way to properly clean a saxophone is when it’s disassembled. All of the nooks and crannies of the instrument can’t be reached for thorough cleaning otherwise.
Cleaning The Neck
The neck of the saxophone is the quickest and easiest piece to clean. First, run the swab through to collect excess moisture. Then grab the saxophone neck cleaner.
For those unfamiliar, the neck cleaner is the flexible metal brush. Start the brush at the wider base of the neck and pass it through until the
brush comes out the top. Pull it back through so the brush comes back out the base again.
Cleaning The Body
Similar to cleaning the neck of the saxophone, start with the swab to remove excess moisture. Put the string in through the bell and pull it through the top.
Run the swab through the instrument multiple times. If you have a saxophone cleaning brush as well, it’s a good idea to also run that through the instrument a couple of times. Just like with the swab, start from the bell end of the saxophone. Make sure to use a pad saver brush as the final step.
Don’t Forget The Key Pads
The key pads can be the most easily overlooked and forgotten part of the instrument in terms of regular maintenance. However, properly caring for the key pads is important too. If key pads aren’t attended to, they will need to be replaced more often which can quickly get costly so it’s best to preserve the ones you have.
This doesn’t mean that they will never need to be replaced, but they’ll last much longer and need replacing much less frequently.
Keys are delicate which makes the maintenance on them a little more time-consuming. Inspect each keypad individually to make sure there isn’t any tearing to the pads.
Torn pads can affect both sound quality and pitch of the saxophone so it’s imperative that torn pads get replaced if there’s a problem. As keys are inspected, wipe them down gently with a cleaning cloth to keep the saxophone looking shiny.
Key pads can get sticky. Using some saxophone pad cleaning paper can help prevent sticky keys to keep the instrument as responsive as possible so those tricky passages are easier to play. Sticky keys can be a major cause for pad damage so stay on top of them by using keypad cleaning paper.
Cleaning The Mouthpiece
Cleaning the mouthpiece of the saxophone is arguably the most important part. Make sure the reed is removed before starting cleaning sax mouthpiece.
Start With The Reed
As previously mentioned, the reed needs to be carefully removed from the mouthpiece before the mouthpiece can be cleaned. This makes it a good time to quickly care for the reed that was used.
Gently wipe the reed down with a clean towel or cotton swab to remove particles and preserve reed life. Store the reed in a reed box to keep it safe. Reeds should never be left loose in the case as they’re delicate and can easily break.
Cleaning the interior of the saxophone mouthpiece is necessary after each time it’s used. Just like the other pieces, the mouthpiece needs to be initially swabbed out to remove excess moisture.
Run it through a few times to ensure it’s dry. Use a mouthpiece brush or other small brush to remove residue.
Run the swab through one more time once finished to ensure nothing is left lingering in the sax mouthpiece.
Resin or rubber mouthpieces may occasionally get scratched. If the mouthpiece becomes scratched, it can begin to harbor bacteria so the scratch will need to be sanded out. Use sandpaper or a clean nail file to sand out the scratch. Make sure to smooth out the mouthpiece once finished.
Deep cleaning sax mouthpieces is only something that needs to be occasionally or when necessary. Wash a saxophone mouthpiece by allowing it to soak in a solution of water with a little bit of either detergent or malt vinegar. Allow it to dry and swab it out before using it again.
Grease The Corks
That lip balm looking thing that comes with the instrument is cork grease. Woodwind players will use this liberally for the sake of their instrument.
Once the saxophone is clean, add a liberal amount of cork grease to each cork on the instrument to ensure the instrument is easy to take apart and put together.
Without cork grease, there’s more tugging and rough assembly. This can be an easy way to damage the instrument.
If the saxophone isn’t easily assembled next time you pull out the instrument, don’t hesitate to add more cork grease before playing as well.
A polishing cloth can be used to make sure the saxophone keeps its shiny appearance. Check over all of the little screws and ensure that they’re securely tightened. Screws should be checked both before and after playing. Wash all of the cleaning materials regularly.
Learning to clean a saxophone is a somewhat tedious process at first. There are quite a few steps but they quickly become second nature. These simple things will keep the instrument in top condition for high-quality sound and appearance.