After many years,the amount of useful information scattered over the Internet continues to amaze me. Yesterday it was the turn of this great web site,BestSaxophoneWebsiteEver,which offers a 24-page booklet in PDF format,filled with tips that all sax players can benefit from. You can find guidance on purchasing a used sax,advice on keeping your horn clean and perfectly working,tips on practicing,and more. My favorite ones are the reccomendations on how to get the best from a microphone when recording at home.
The booklet is actually only an excerpt of what you can find on this website by saxophinist Doron Orenstein,where good tips abound. I have bookmarked the following pages:
6 crucial facts about saxophone reeds
11 tips for improving your altissimo
7 tips to tell how much mouthpiece to take in (partly based on this article by Pete Thomas)
8 tips for an open throat and big sound
Flatter tounguing –The sexy sax secret
For years I have used cigarette paper to dry the pads of my saxophones after playing,and I know I am in good company. I suspect that they sell more cigarette paper to woodwind players than to actual smokers.
It’s hard to change habits,but I wanted to give these pad dryers a try,and the overal impression is positive. They can absorbe humidity at least as much as paper and you don’t have to be careful about not putting the glued portion of the paper in contact with pads. Their maker –BG in this specific case –claim that they last for one year,but I haven’t tested them for that long. The only limit is:if you are used to leave cigarette paper under keys –most likely,the G# and low C# keys –you can’t use dryers for that,unless you buy them in quantity (and I suspect that in that case they would last much less than one year).
For now I decided to continue to use both:the dryer to absorb most saliva and humnidity and cigarette paper left under the keys to prevent pads from sticking.
I admit it:I love pad savers,because they are pretty,colorful and –supposedly –useful. Only recently I discovered that they can be a bit dangerous,thanks to my friend Domenico Bartolomeo,who repairs saxophones for living and for passion.
The fact is,pad savers should never,ever be left inside the horn,for several reasons. First,they keep humidity and therefore the prevent your pads from getting dry,which in turn make their life shorter. Second,they tend to leave dust inside the saxophone. Third,over time they tend to lose naps (hairs),which might prevent the pads from closing perfectly. I learned this lesson the hard way.
You can use a pad saver to clean the interior of your saxophone,of course. Just don’t leave them inside it. Used in this manner,I find pad savers especially useful with straight sopranos,whereas I prefer cleaning my alto by passing a cleaning cloth through the horn.
BTW,for the same reason I avoid –if possible,of course –to close the case of your sax immediately after practicing. I typically leave the case open for a few hours to let the humidity to go away,if necessary with a cloth over (not inside!) the saxophone to protect it from dust.