When you don’t have a lot of money or time to visit an instrument repair shop, learning how to repair a soprano saxophone can help you out. Do-it-yourself repairs are only a temporary fix, but they’re handy skills to have when the need arises. With tips from "Taming the Saxophone" and Canadian performer Ryan Fraser, this quick guide offers solutions to four common problems you may encounter with your soprano saxophone.
To repair a soprano saxophone, you will need:
- Non-permanent glue
- Hot glue and a glue gun
- A hot flame
- A flathead screwdriver
- A sharp knife
- A wine cork
- Loose key pads. If your soprano saxophone has a loose key pad, or one that falls out, you can fix it with a non-permanent adhesive. Dab on just enough glue to hold the key pad in place. A dot of hot glue works well, if you happen to have a glue gun at home. Do not use permanent glue to make the repair. If you do, a repair shop technician will have to struggle to dig out the pad.
- Key pad leaks. If you can slip a sheet of paper between a key pad and a tone hole, your soprano saxophone has a leak. Sometimes pads become stuck in shellac that can be melted with a flame. Use caution when attempting this repair. A flame can burn your fingers or the lacquer on your saxophone. To repair a leak, hold a flame under the key and heat the pad cup until the pad moves. Use a flathead screwdriver to lift the part where the leak is, then gently close the cup to straighten the pad. Apply pressure with the screwdriver until the pad rests squarely against the hole. Repeat this process with other pads until all leaks are repaired.
- Brittle neck corks. It’s a good idea to carry neck corks with your soprano saxophone, ideally corks in several different thicknesses. If you need a cork but don’t have one handy, use a sharp knife to cut a piece off a wine cork. Use a dab of non-permanent glue to secure the cork. As mentioned above, never use permanent glue for do-it-yourself repairs. If a neck cork becomes compressed, or your mouthpiece is too loose for the cork, expand it by wetting the cork and holding it over a flame. A hair dryer works well for this, too. It is safer than a flame and will not burn the lacquer off your saxophone.
- Warped reeds. Sometimes warped or wrinkled reeds seem to happen overnight. According to Canadian saxophonist Ryan Fraser, warping problems can usually be solved by immersing reeds in water and allowing them to soak for several minutes. If saturating a reed doesn't solve the problem, try lightly sanding the reed with sandpaper after soaking it.