Naming saxophone parts, like much of the repair business, can differ depending on who is doing it. The guide I have provided here is what I have learned/decided to call the parts, and may be different from what you like to use or have heard used. But since there doesn’t seem to be a reliable and agreed-upon standard publicly posted elsewhere that is widely known, I’ll just put this here and maybe folks will use it.
For this guide, I used a Selmer Balanced Action tenor saxophone that I was about to overhaul, and I disassembled it to show photos of the parts in-situ as well as independent of the surrounding keys. Pardon the dust and grime, the horn hadn’t been apart in 40+ years. Let’s just call it “gritty and authentic”, how about that?
I also chose the BA because its about as standard a saxophone as you can get- perhaps because it IS the standard for saxophone design in the modern age. But of course there are a lot of saxophones that people play that don’t share the exact same parts everywhere- octave mechanisms differ widely until the 60s, for instance- and I’ll be adding those to the bottom of this guide as time goes on.
Also, there are a ton of parts. I didn’t really realize until I sat down to write this, so strap in for another rip-roaring thrillride.
The Body of the Instrument
Major Keywork Groups
Left Hand Pinky Cluster/Bell Keys
Individual Keys and Key Parts
These are likely to be the most confusing, as the tonehole and the key above it should logically have different names. For example, the index finger of your left hand rests on what most everyone agrees is the B key- but the tonehole beneath it is the tonehole that the C note comes out of (play a C and look for the first open tonehole). Another example is the low Bb- when playing a low Bb, the note comes out of the bell, meaning there is actually no low Bb tonehole on a sax! BUT, I choose to call the tonehole by the name of the key above it for simplicity’s sake. I am definitely occasionally pedantic about saxophone terms, but in this case for the sake of understanding we will just call the tonehole below the key by the key’s name. So the tonehole beneath the bis is the bis tonehole, the tonehole beneath the Eb pad cup is the Eb tonehole, etc.
Component Part Names
Adjustment Screw (named after whatever key it adjusts, e.g. this photo shows the G# adjustment screw)
Tenon Receiver Ring
Flat Spring Screw
Touchpiece (sometimes called a spatula for Eb/C and LHP table)
Octave/Right Hand Thumbrest
Right Hand Thumbrest
Adjustable Key Bumper
Bell to Body Brace
Bow to Body Connection
Bow to Bell Connection
Hinge Tube Face
Back of the pad cup
Front of the pad cup
Front of the bell
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