How to Repad & Adjust an Alto Saxophone

Written by darrin dortch
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How to Repad & Adjust an Alto Saxophone
You can repad and readjust an alto sax at home. ( Images)

Repadding and readjusting an alto saxophone may seem like a daunting task. Most people's first instinct would be to shell out money and take it to a repair shop. However, with a little patience and concentration, you can repad and readjust the saxophone in your home with the proper supplies.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Labelled saxophone board
  • Compressed air
  • Filer
  • Chemical bath solvent
  • Bath tray
  • Brass polish
  • Washcloth
  • Saxophone lubricant
  • Small oven
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers

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    Repad and Adjust

  1. 1

    Remove all closed keys and the upper stack.

  2. 2

    Place all screws and rods on a labelled sax board.

  3. 3

    Gently remove the old pads.

  4. 4

    Carefully file all of the tone holes.

  5. 5

    Check each tone hole for level and carefully deburr to remove any sharp edges.

  6. 6

    Spray the entire body with compressed air to remove any additional metal filings.

  7. 7

    Place all keys in a chemical bath and polish after removal.

  8. 8

    Submerse the body and neck into a chemical bath and polish after removal.

  9. 9

    Clean and polish all hinge rods.

  10. 10

    Carefully install new pads, cork and felts. Line up the pads over each hole and press down. Carefully twist the cork over the mouthpiece. Once the pads are in place, snap each felt over its corresponding pad.

  11. 11

    Clean out each hinge tube.

  12. 12

    Glue on a new neck cork and adjust, crease and clamp the upper octave key. Use a screwdriver to adjust the upper octave key and use a pair of pliers to clamp the octave key over its necessary felt. Place your thumb and index finger over the upper octave key and crease it over the felt.

  13. 13

    Pre-crease and then adjust each new key. Closed keys should be reassembled first.

  14. 14

    Place the alto with its new pads into the oven. Remove after 10 minutes and cool.

  15. 15

    Lubricate each new key after cooling.

  16. 16

    Perform a scale or a chromatic play test on the alto sax after lubrication. If satisfied, clean and polish the sax and place it in its case.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a labelled sax board to ensure correct placement during the reassembly process.
  • Do not overlubricate your sax; that could cause your keys and pads to stick. And, more important, do not leave your sax in the oven for more than 10 minutes. Doing so will permanently damage your instrument.

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