Saxophone Part Nomenclature

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

Octave Mechanism


Upper Stack


Lower Stack


Side Keys


Palm Keys


Chromatic F#


Eb/C Cluster


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





Hinge Tube


Hinge Rod/Rod




Pivot Screw


Pivot Post


Key Cup

Key Arm

Key Foot


Adjustment Screw (named after whatever key it adjusts, e.g. this photo shows the G# adjustment screw)



Pearl Holder

Neck Tenon

Tenon Receiver

Tenon Receiver Ring

Neck Screw

Lyre Screw

Lyre Holder


Needle Spring

Spring Hole

Flat Spring

Spring Cradle

Flat Spring Screw



Key Guide

Octave Pip


Touchpiece (sometimes called a spatula for Eb/C and LHP table)




Octave/Right Hand Thumbrest

Right Hand Thumbrest




Keyguard Screw


Pantsguard Screw


Adjustable Key Bumper



Tonehole rim


Bell to Body Brace


Bow to Body Connection


Bow to Bell Connection


Connecting Ring


Post Face

Hinge Tube Face

Pivot Receiver

Bell lip



Misc. Nomenclature




Back of the pad cup

Front of the pad cup

Front of the bell




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