Restoring a Saxophone

Basic saxophone restoration may be accomplished with the right tools.

Restoring a saxophone is a time-consuming process that requires some basic mechanical skill. The saxophone plating can't be polished since the brass is raw, and polishing will only serve to create further damage. Learning to restore your saxophone is a process than can save you money, but you also must be honest with yourself about the prospects. If the saxophone is relatively inexpensive to begin with, it might not be worth paying someone to restore the instrument. In cases in which the damage does not require a complete overhaul, you can restore a saxophone yourself with basic items.

Clean the saxophone thoroughly with a dry swab designed for saxophones. The swab is designed to fit inside the saxophone and has a cloth on the end to remove any debris. The swab is flexible, which allows you to clean the crooks of the saxophone.

Use a dent hammer to pound out any dents in the exterior of the horn. Select a hammer size that is just smaller than the actual dent and move in a circular motion around the dent to smooth out the brass from protruding portion of the dent. Generally, this means hammering from the inside of the sax. However, in some cases, the dent may originate from the inside, and you will need to hammer the outside of the sax.

Replace the keypads. Start with a flat-head screwdriver to remove the cork from the pads. Then cut a new piece of cork to fit the inside of each of the key cups. You can also purchase precut cork from a music store that you can simply place inside the key cup. Apply a small amount of superglue to the inside of the pad, and press the new pad in place.

Bend the keys as necessary to ensure that they line up with the tone holes when depressed. For severely damaged keypads, it is best to buy a new set of keypads and replace the entire set.

Scrub the exterior of the saxophone with a lightly damp cloth. Don't use any polish or abrasive household cleaners.


If the saxophone has been crushed and is not in playable condition, consider taking the instrument to a professional repair shop for evaluation and repair. Restoring a saxophone is reserved for instruments that need polishing and minor fixes to maintain playability. Severe damage requires a complete overhaul and is often more expensive than purchasing a new instrument.


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