How to Cure Sticky Pads on a Saxophone

Saxophone pads, a paper-like circles that cover the holes in the instrument, can become sticky. However, they can be fixed easily. The only problem is that it is very difficult to identify which pad has become sticky, and you might have to cure all pads, one by one. You can use a paper for the purpose as thick as a dollar bill and this should do the job effectively. Make sure you regularly swab your saxophone as it can quickly develop mold inside it, which is a common problem with woodwind instruments.


  • 1

    Identify Sticky Pad

    The most difficult part of the job is to identify the stick pad. You cannot tell from outside which pad has become sticky, it is just a wild guess, or else you can cure all the pads, one by one, to make sure that no pad is left sticky.

  • 2

    Pad Opening

    Some pads of saxophone stay closed and some open. Irrespective of this, you should lift the pad gradually with your fingers, or anything similar. Do not use a sharp tool to lift the pad, it can damage the paper. Also, do not press the pad too hard while lifting it out, just do it with a gentle pressure.

  • 3

    Tone Hole Covering

    Use a dollar bill or something similar to cover the tone hole. The tone hole, which is covered by the sticky pad, should be covered entirely. Just use corner of the paper or dollar bill to cover the hole.

  • 4

    Pad Closing and Release

    Use a gentle pressure to push the pad inside the hole with the dollar bill covering the hole. Now without losing the pressure, pull out the dollar bill from the hole. This should treat the pad, effectively. You might repeat the process again and again until the pad is treated.  Do not exert too much pressure as it can damage the pad, and you might need to replace it altogether.

  • 5

    Swab Saxophone Regularly

    In order to prevent pads from becoming sticky frequently, swab your saxophone regularly. It develops mold because of drying saliva while you play the instrument. This is a common problem with all woodwind musical instruments. To swab the saxophone, you will need to take a piece of soft cloth and then stick it with a wire string measuring length of the instrument. Run through the wire inside the saxophone and this will clean the instrument.

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