What does a Band Director really need to know about the saxophone and emergency repair?

What does a Band Director really need to know about the saxophone and
emergency repair?  

By Rheuben Allen

The answer is not so much.  I see a lot of repairmen offering emergency repair kits… complicated things to work with and a lot of advice on the technical way to do the repair.

All repairs of the saxophone that can be made fast by the band director at a concert, football game or rehearsal are simple.  Most things on the saxophone can be fixed with a few things: Rubber Bands of many different sizes and strengths… buy a bag at the 99-cent store for a buck, saran wrap, thin double sided tape and or dental tape, a small screwdriver to tighten a pivot screw or rod and a spring hook incase a spring comes off. A small amount of pads might be good.

However unless every saxophonist in your band is playing the same brand and model of saxophone the number of pads necessary could prove to be to large to carry everywhere.. to hard and expensive to keep in stock.  So I will talk about using the things you have at hand.

The word emergency itself tells you it only needs to work for a shot while. To get you through that football game… then you can take it to the repairman..

So if a spring breaks: You can use one of the rubber bands and fine a way for it to connect to the instrument and lift the key up or hold it down. Choose a rubber band that is about the same tension as the keys on the instrument after it is hooked up.

If a pad is torn: And it will not seat cover it with Saran Wrap and use a rubber band to hold it on…. it might look funny, feel different to the student when the key is pressed but it will work.

If a pad falls out: Put it back in with the thin double sided tape. Then Wrap it with Saran Wrap and Rubber Band to make sure it stays in the pad cup.  Put the Saran Wrap over the face of the pad, pull it to the top of the pad cup, twist it and use the rubber band to hold it in place.

Eric Marienthal one of the great modern saxophonist pretty much always has Saran Wrap on his palm key pads. After seeing Eric’s saxophone I often thought that I would put Saran Wrap on my palm keys and maybe I would play better… I tried it… it just didn’t work for me like I wanted…

If a pad sticks: Put some baby power on it and work it up and down a few times…

Loose a pad: If your saxophone player looses the pad then fold some paper in the pad cup until it looks about the same thickness as the other pads around it and wrap a few or a lot of layers of Saran Warp around the pad cup, rubber band it and it will work for a while.

Loose a neck cork: Wrap the neck with dental tape until the mouthpiece fits and put the mouthpiece on… it will last for a while. The dental tape will also work for a Clarinet mouthpiece or any tenon.

Remember emergency is just for a short while not a permanent fix. Saran Wrap and Rubber Bands can work on saxophones, flutes, clarinets, brass water keys and just about anything that can be fixed in an emergency. It will likely last through the gig.

Tool List:
Saran wrap

Rubber bands
Small amount of baby power.
Thin double sided tape

Dental tape
Small screwdriver
Spring hook (optional)

These tools will all fit in a very small bag and be easy to keep with

If the problem can not be corrected with these few things… then it
is not an emergency repair. it is a shop repair.

The problem and beauty in instruments is that there are no two instruments, mouthpieces, ligatures, reed or players that are the same.  Each problem is fixed one at a time.  The above suggestions are very general and might not always work for everyone.