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Tips on Avoiding Trouble

A stitch in time save nine, and many troubles can be avoided by intelligent and careful handling of your instrument.

  1. Many saxophones are designed so that part of the octave mechanism extends beyond the body of the instrument. When saxophones are made this way, the manufacturer furnishes an end plug which is inserted in the small end of the body when the mouthpipe is removed. The case is made so the top end, with the end plug inserted, rests in one block, while the bell and bow are held snugly by block and padding. When cradled in this position, the octave mechanism is protected at the top end, the keys do not touch the sides of the case, and the entire instrument is protected from jolts and jars. If the end plug is not used, the instrument is too short for the blocking and is liable to bang around loose inside the case. Such treatment results in damage to octave mechanism, key system, and tone hole sockets. Conn tenors are furnished with end plug but the altos are made so no end plug is needed. On some top octave key model altos an end plug is furnished for insertion in the large end of the mouthpipe to protect the mouthpipe key.

  2. Keep all accessories in box or tied down so they will not clatter around loose inside the case. This will not only mar the finish of your instrument but may cause serious damage to the key mechanism. 

  3. Don't play with chewing gum in the mouth, nor right after eating candy or drinking a "soft drink." You will blow sugar water into the instrument and when this gets on the pads you will have a lot of trouble from pads sticking.

  4. Protect the mouthpipe key when putting the mouthpipe on and taking it off the body. Be sure the mouthpipe ligature screw is completely unscrewed before you try to take the mouthpipe off or put it on. Also, be careful not to knock off corks when joining the arm from the octave mechanism to the mouthpipe key.

  5. Don't use rubber bands to operate keys whose springs have become broken. In a short time the sulphur in the rubber band will produce a black tarnish where it contacts the instrument and will eventually eat through the finish on a plated instrument.

  6. A piece of camphor in the case will absorb moisture and will retard corrosion and tarnish. Recommended in summer when humidity is high.

  7. Don't make a practice of playing your instrument without a neck strap by resting the bell against a chair or table. This puts a strain on the bell and tends to cause the keys to bind.

  8. Always loosen the ligature on the mouthpiece when putting it away. Constant pressure of a tight ligature is liable to warp the facing and in time may even cause a constriction in the chamber.

  9. Always put the cap on your mouthpiece when it is not in use, especially when you put it in the case. This will prevent breaking many a reed and it may prevent chipping the tip or marring the facing of your mouthpiece. Even a small nick or chip on the tip will ruin a mouthpiece.

  10. If you are one of those who blow lots of water into your instrument, you can make the pads last longer if you will blot them dry with ordinary blotting paper, especially those near the mouthpiece where the water is heaviest.

  11. If you have a dry mouth, don't chew gum to help the flow of saliva. The sugar in the gum will cause sticky pads. Some players are helped by putting a small, smooth pebble or other non-soluble object in the mouth. This starts the flow of saliva. Be sure to take it out before playing.

  12. When you put the reed on your mouthpiece, ordinarily you will put the reed on the mouthpiece and then slip the ligature over the reed. Since there is a gap between the tip of the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece, often the ligature snags the reed. You will save reeds if you will put the ligature on first (loose, of course), and then slip the reed under the ligature.

  13. If the cork on the mouthpipe becomes compressed until the mouthpiece tends to drop off, there is nothing to do but recork the mouthpipe. Don't push the mouthpiece up on the mouthpipe until you throw your instrument sharp, just for the sake of keeping it from falling off. Vice versa, in order to get your instrument up to pitch, don't force the mouthpiece on if the cork is too big; you may damage your mouthpiece. On the Conn alto with the tuning device, the mouthpiece should always be pushed up flush with the shoulder on the tuning device.