Take care when assembling the instrument. Damage often occurs to instruments during assembly.

It's best to put on your sling first. Then pick up the sax and attach it to the sling. Then attach the crook. Take care not to over-tighten the crook screw, to avoid it snapping or damaging the joint.

Attach the mouthpiece using a little cork grease on the cork if it's tight.

After playing, return the instrument to its case.


When cleaning a sticky pad, make sure the pad surface is dry, using cigarette papers or Yamaha cleaning paper. N.B., do not pull the paper through.

Yamaha powder papers can be used to prevent pads from sticking. Apply light pressure to the pad and puff or blow away excess powder. Graphite may be applied to tonehole surfaces as an alternative, to help cure sticking pads.


Cork grease is used for two reasons:

  • It helps the joints slip together, and
  • it protects the cork from rotting.
(Don't use petroleum jelly on corks as it does not protect the cork and it can react with glue or oil on the instrument.)

Apply a small amount of cork grease to the cork and rub it in with a finger. It should leave a slippery surface so that the parts will fit together smoothly. If the grease is really sticky, it may be better to stop using it and find a different brand. (Here at Marshall McGurk, we make our own brand of very fine cork grease. Please enquire for details.)

There are various small pieces of cork on the mechanism of the saxophone. These are there for a purpose! It can be tempting to pick away at them while not playing, but DON'T! It may cause the keys to become noisy or  even prevent the instrument from playing at all.


Don't leave music books and sheets of music in instrument cases (unless there is a specific compartment.) It can damage the mechanism.

Try to avoid leaving loose objects in the case. They can cause severe damage when they (e.g., reed cutters, pencils, empty reed cases) are compressed against an instrument body when closing the case. Don't let empty reed cases gather!

Instrument cases should be secure and in good condition. Clasps, hinges and handles may be oiled occasionally to prolong effective operation.

Cases in poor condition should be repaired or replaced. 

OILING - mechanism

Instrument mechanisms need to be oiled like any other machinery. It is usual to have this done by your repairer as part of an annual service.

If you apply the oil yourself, take great care as the wrong oil can rot corks, cause glued parts to become unstuck and react with some cork greases to solidify. Only tiny amounts applied with a pin are necessary. 


Do not use polish!

You can brush down dusty Instrument bodies with a clean, new, 5cm paintbrush. (Take care not to dislodge springs.)

CLEANING - bore (inside the instrument)

Swab out your instrument after use with a lint-free cloth or chamois leather pullthrough. Make sure new pullthroughs are fully unfolded.

Pad savers drive moisture on to pads instead of taking it away from them, and they can leave deposits of fluff, which gets on to the mechanism and on to pads. They do, however, keep the inside of the sax quite clean, so it is far better to use a pad saver than nothing. 

But well made pullthroughs are best.

CLEANING - keywork

The mechanism can be cleaned after use with a lint-free cloth.

You can clean silver plated keywork with a silver polishing cloth. These are impregnated with an anti-tarnish agent.

Don't use polish!

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