Having issues with your saxophone can be frustrating, especially if you are a beginner in using the instrument. If your sax was just working fine earlier, but you suddenly stopped producing notes or got problems with the sound after some time, the issue might be related to the octave key.
The Octave keys are responsible for increasing the pitch in saxophones. So, issues related to your octave key can significantly affect your sax music performance. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem and you are not the only one experiencing it. Therefore, don’t panic yet.
In this sax guide, I will discuss how to fix the saxophone octave key to get your instrument to work flawlessly.
The Common Causes of Octave Key Issues
Issues in the octave key mechanism have an impact on the sound that a saxophone produces. If you want to find a solution to your saxophone problem, you first need to identify what’s causing the issue itself. Below are some of the most common reasons why the octave key mechanism doesn’t work well.
Lifter Touching the Neck Octave Key
One of the common causes of octave key problems is mishandling the instrument. If you are not careful, the octave key might get bent and cause you to produce unwanted noise. Since it is easily bendable, too much pressure in holding the saxophone can make the octave key out of shape.
To see if the octave key is not working because of improper assembly or handling of the sax, you can follow this guide.
- Find the neck octave mechanism in your saxophone. You can spot the neck octave key in your instrument by looking for a small pod at the end of your mouthpiece cork.
- When you find the neck octave, the next thing you have to do is follow the “U” shape, and you find the lifter in the end.
- Once you have found the lifter and discover that it’s touching the neck octave, then that is causing the hiss from your saxophone.
A lifter touching the neck octave key is not an unusual issue in saxophones, and it’s fixable. So, be positive.
Sticky Octave Key Pad
Another reason you get an unwanted noise with your high notes might be the sticky octave pad. This stickiness can be caused by the indention of the pad and octave vent or due to dirt.
To check if your instrument is making the hiss because of a sticky octave pad, try to do these steps:
- Do an octave G key
- Move the tip of the pin key up and down. The movement should be smooth, and the body octave key cup should move accordingly.
- If you notice that there is more resistance than normal, then the issue with your octave key is caused by its stickiness.
Fixing The Octave key Mech
Of course, once you are done troubleshooting your saxophone and found the issue, you want to find a solution to fix it quickly. As a sax player, experiencing hiss or unwanted sounds from your instrument isn’t nice at all. The good news is, some issues are fixable, and you can do them by yourself. Here are the things you can do based on the cause of your octave key problem:
Bend Your Saxophone
If it’s the lifter that is touching the neck octave, you can carefully bend the neck octave into the right shape. Remember to squeeze it slowly to avoid further damage to your instrument.
To do that, you need to hold the “U” shape using your thumbs and index and middle fingers at the opposite side near the neck pad. You have to add a little pressure slowly until you achieve the “C” shape. Don’t do the bending at once, as it could worsen the condition of your sax. Instead, add pressure little by little. If you mistakenly overdo the bending, you can revert it by using your thumb to pull the top neck octave and placing your other thumb to hold the “U” Shape.
If the issue with your octave key is the stickiness of the pad and you are up for fixing it by yourself, that can also work. You can do it by cleaning the pad using a clean paper towel. Just put it under the octave pad and gently press the key. After that, you can take out the paper towel. Keep in mind that you might have to do this a couple of times until you get rid of the stickiness. For more effectiveness, you can use fine-grade sandpaper.
Get Help From Professional
If you have tried the solutions above or are afraid to fix your saxophone by yourself, you can watch video tutorials anytime. They will help you see how the repairs are actually done and provide you with a more detailed explanation. But if you want to have your instrument professionally repaired, you can always seek the help of an expert.