Time to Clean Your Saxophone? – Better Sax
Time to Clean Your Sax?

Time to Clean Your Saxophone?

I hope you’re all staying safe out there. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to clean your saxophone so I decided to make a video about it.

To do it properly, it’s a big job as you’ll see, it’s definitely something you shouldn’t try on your own since there’s a lot that can go wrong. But if you’re determined to do it anyway, or if you just like watching how something is done this video is for you.

If you’ve tried cleaning your saxophone before, let me know how it went in the comments below!

Just like humans, your saxophone could occasionally use a nice relaxing bubble bath…

Now, I’m not talking about what you should do on a daily basis after each playing session. If you’re interested in a daily cleaning routine check out my Essential Saxophone Cleaning Routine video.

I’m talking about if you want to do a deep cleaning of your instrument.

It’s not something you should be too worried about if you are the only one that plays your saxophone, but if you have purchased a horn that may have been played by others in the shop, or a used horn, a former rental instrument, or your saxophone is just filthy, this is how to go about cleaning it the right way. 

There are a few very common mistakes people make when doing this that can mess up your instrument and even damage it, so I want to steer you clear of those things. 

Disclaimer BEFORE You Clean Your Sax:

I am not telling you to that you have to clean your saxophone. You probably don’t.

But a lot of people are determined to do this on their own whether it’s necessary or not so I want you to know the right way to do it, while helping you avoid the common mistakes people make.

Keep in mind, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. If you don’t know how to fix those things, you might have to visit a repair shop.

I’ll be pointing out the potential pitfalls as I take you through the process. Just be aware of the risks if you do this yourself.

I’m going to be cleaning my Yanagisawa 991 alto sax today since it’s probably the dirtiest of all my horns.

Cleaning Supplies

Here is a list of all the supplies we will need

  1. Screw drivers from MusicMedic – You only really need 2 of them size B and C I believe. There’s a video on the Amazon page detailing what each size is best for. 
  2. A pair of duck bill pliers.
  3. A spring hook
  4. Pipe cleaners, these are for cleaning out the inside of your key hinges.
  5. Normal dish soap – any soap that you use for dishes will be fine.
  6. A soft bottle brush. Usually these things will not leave any scratch marks on the lacquer of your horn, but if you’re concerned about that, make sure the brush you are using is soft enough to not scratch the horn.
  7. Key oil – I prefer to use this Yamaha slide grease instead of standard key oil. It has a nice viscosity to it. Today I’m going to try out this other oil from MusicMedic to see how it works.

Now earlier I went to the store to grab some items that I wanted for this video and that turned out to be a bad idea with all the panic hoarding going on, so I’m using what I’ve already got here in the studio. Don’t go to the store right now for these things if you don’t have them at home. Do the best you can with what you’ve got, or wait till a future time when the world is not in crisis.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full cleaning tutorial.

Unsure of whether or not your horn needs fixing or cleaning? Check out “Knowing When to Get Your Saxophone Fixed.”

Also be sure to follow BetterSax on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube to stay up to date with us for news, giveaways, and other saxophone tips and tricks.

About the Author

As the founder of BetterSax.com Jay’s mission is to help developing saxophone players break away from traditional music learning methods and discover a more efficient, practical and fun way to become a Better Sax player. The BetterSax YouTube channel’s videos have been watched by millions and thousands of students have made meaningful progress on their instrument thanks to BetterSax courses.

Jay Metcalf


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  1. Pingback: Quick & Easy DIY Saxophone Repairs – Better Sax

  2. Pingback: The Essential Cleaning Routine & The Saxophone Lung – Better Sax

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