In order to know how a sax is made, you need to be informed of the basic parts of a saxophone. The sax is a musical device that belongs to the wood wind family. It is comprised of a tapered brass tube shaped like a bell at the far end. When air is blown from the mouthpiece the reed vibrates, producing sound which gets amplified after passing through the conical shape. Saxophones are made in six different sizes nowadays.
The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musical instrument maker. He wanted to build an instrument that had both the qualities of wood and brass in its sound. Jazz musicians in the early 1900s brought about the paradigm of sax fame. Since then its popularity has increased many fold.
A sax is made in parts, which are assembled later to form the instrument. We will explain each part and the way it is produced to keep the information systematic and easier to understand. The basic parts and their locations are mentioned below.
The mouthpiece is the part into which the air is blown by the musician to produce a sound. The final sound depends on the way the mouthpiece is created. A sax mouthpiece is made from a hard, dark rubber.
The reed is a strip of bamboo connected to the sax. When air swishes through, it vibrates to create sound. A sax reed is made of bamboo. The solidity depends on the demand of the notes intended to be played. The part that attaches the reed with the mouthpiece is called the ligature, which is made from leather, metal or plastic.
The crook is the part that links the mouthpiece with the body. One end is cork, and fixes into the mouthpiece; the other is shaped like a joint of metal, fastened by screws to the body.
The sax shaft is a hollow tube that widens at one end. About twenty to twenty three holes are drilled along the sides to create different musical notes. Sax tubes are factory built. A brass tube is placed on a mandrel and heated, then a round hollow die is dropped down along the mandrel to shape it like a shaft. It is then taken to a bending station where it is given a curve. After being shaped, the tube is taken to a drilling section. Here the machine is supplied with tubes to drill holes automatically. This is done with precision, because of a computer program controlling the process. The body is later given a luscious finish.
The sax keys are made of stainless steel by a stamping machine. The machine cuts a sheet of steel by stamping it into sax keys. To have a perfect sound, the shaft holes have to be sealed air tight. In order to accomplish that, the keys are supplied with pads. These pads are glued to the keys, drilled and fixed with screws and springs.
Assembling the sax. When the time comes for assembly, the main parts are attached to the smaller ones, and then they are pieced together. The reed is screwed to the shaft with the help of the ligature. The cork end of the crook is attached to the mouthpiece and the joint end is screwed onto the shaft. The keys are mounted on small posts, drilled to hold the spring side of the keys. The holes are sealed air tight by the pads on the screws. After the instrument is ready, expert musicians and technicians check the product for accuracy.