The Sticky Key Treatment


It happens to every saxophone player at some point. You’re playing your heart out, approaching a triumphant arrival on a G#…and a G comes out. Curse those sticky keys!

In my experience, a proactive approach is the best way to prevent saxophone pads from sticking. My saxophone repairman (who may actually be a wizard) gave me few tips.

Oral Hygiene: According to my repairman, the number one cause for incessantly sticky keys is playing with a dirty mouth. The solution is simple. If you are going to play your instrument within a half-hour of eating or drinking, brush your teeth. With a travel toothbrush in my case, I find this to be an easy habit to keep.

Sometimes keys still stick. The guilty parties are often keys that stay closed when the horn is not in use, such as G# and low C#. If brushing your teeth before each playing session isn’t helping, what then?

Hair End Papers for Perms: Another gem that only a repairman with decades of experience would know to recommend. Many people use dollar bills or powdered paper. However, both of these leave unwanted residues behind that can damage the pads and cause leaks over time. Perm End Papers, on the other hand, remove the moisture that causes sticking without doing any damage. Slide the paper under the pad, hold the pad down, and slide the paper out. Voila!

If problem persists, you may need to…

Replace the Pad: Talk to a knowledgeable repairman about what options are available. I have had success with using Roo Pads on my G#.
Hopefully with a few proactive steps, sticky keys will become a worry of the past!


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