Why Do My Saxophone Keys Stick? (Explained)

Why Do My Saxophone Keys Stick? (Explained)
Written by Corey Morgan

Why Do My Saxophone Keys Stick?

You might experience sticking pads occasionally or each time you pick up your saxophone. In either case, it is a really annoying issue.

One of the most frequent issues about saxophone is why do their keys stick. G-sharp (A-flat) is typically the pad on the saxophone that sticks the most, followed by Low C-sharp (Low D-flat), E-flat (D-sharp), and the Bis key.

Another interesting point to make here is that you will frequently experience instances when you pick up the saxophone and start playing and a pad or a key just doesn’t sound right. This is especially true if you are a beginner. That might be brought on by sticky keys.

What Causes Saxophone Keys To Stick?

Saxophone pads typically become sticky due to filth, which is commonly caused by food or salivary sugar that travels down the instrument and settles on the pads.

While you play, your saxophone will pick up some saliva even if you only sip water. Then it will only be a question of time. Finding the stuck keys is the first thing we must do before attempting to repair them.

Soprano saxophones frequently have sticky keys. Since the soprano saxophone is not used as frequently as other saxes, it has more time to deteriorate inside the case. Because the body tube is smaller, moisture can more readily become trapped inside. Just ask an oboe player for their opinion on how a smaller bore causes sticky keys.

A “doubler” horn called the soprano sax is frequently brought onto the stage, played vigorously for a few minutes, and then placed back damp on the sax stand. That will definitely stick.

Problems can still arise despite rigorous daily saxophone maintenance and prevention measures. That is simply how playing an instrument is. When an issue emerges, being able to diagnose it yourself can save time and money.

Some issues with the saxophone should be manageable even if you have little knowledge of its workings. Try bringing up a problem with your band director or a private tutor if you’re having trouble solving it. One of them ought to be able to solve some of the issues. However, there are several circumstances in which you must take your horn to a woodwind repairman.

Always examine your reed/mouthpiece setup before attempting to diagnose a problem with your horn. To make sure your reed is not the issue, remove the horn’s neck and blow. Before moving on to the next stage, rule this out. Anyway, here are some of the most typical issues:

Reasons why your saxophone keys stick

  • My G# key isn’t working when I press it

One of the most frequent issues with why saxophone keys stick is this, and it is typically simple to resolve. On all models and brands of saxophones, the G# Key is renowned for sticking. Simply identify the G# key (which shouldn’t be too difficult to do) and pull the lock open to fix it.

Use a dollar note, wax paper, paper (which will function momentarily), or powder paper to prevent it from adhering (which will work a little longer).

As I previously stated, this is one of, if not the most typical issue with the saxophone. Most of the time when I take my horn out to play, I make sure it’s not stuck.

The most likely case is where the key sticks. In the event that this doesn’t work, there might be an issue with the spring mechanism, which is a simple fix that should be carried out by your teacher or a repairman.

  • My middle-D isn’t coming out right

If you’re having trouble playing middle-D (low-D plus the octave key), the octave key mechanism definitely needs to be repaired.

The D ought to come out smoothly. It’s time to troubleshoot fixing it if it blows high-A or makes a blurry sound. The repair is not too challenging. Though you could certainly do it on your own, it’s definitely best to have your teacher do it at first.

Most likely, the saxophone’s octave mechanism is the source of the issue. The mechanism on the neck is somewhat open when you play from middle D to high G. It expands more as you play at a higher level. There may be issues if the neck’s opening mechanism is not functioning properly.

The mechanism needs to be bent back into position. You may need to be a little extra cautious when pulling out or putting away your saxophone if the issue continues despite several fixes from you or your teacher. Different saxophones have different levels of fragility.

  • The low notes aren’t working

This issue could result from a number of various situations depending on which low notes aren’t sounding right.

If low C, B, and Bb don’t function but D through F do, then the pads on the low notes are probably at fault. The pads may have dried out or torn, but since they are the most solid, that is less likely.

The pads most likely simply fell out of alignment. Although this is a simple fix, a woodwind repairman must complete it. All that to be done is reseat the pads (put back into place, so they seal properly).

However, this necessitates a hot flame, which your repairman is experienced with. You can ask your teacher to demonstrate how to utilize a leak light so that you can correctly identify this issue.

There may be an issue with a screw on the G# key if none of the notes below G function properly. A leak-light can be used to diagnose this as well. This issue may probably be resolved by your teacher, however it may take some troubleshooting to get it perfect.

  • Other keys aren’t working

It is preferable to give your teacher a look at it if any other key isn’t working. The saxophone is a complicated instrument made up of numerous unique mechanics.

There could be a broken rod, a loose screw, a torn pad, etc. in the low C key of the saxophone. Based on the quality of the materials used in their construction, less expensive saxophones typically have more issues than more expensive saxophones. Before bringing a broken key to a repairman, take it to your teacher. It might be simple to fix.