Every once in a while I come across a problem that has me well and
Many years ago a client brought in an alto saxophone for repair.
The symptoms were common enough - it blew down to G and then no
further, in either octave.
It didn't take a lot of thought to arrive at the conclusion that
there was a leaky pad - on or around the G# (this being the next
However, upon examination I found the pads to be in excellent condition.
An octave key problem then - the G key links to the octave key
mechanism, even a slight imbalance here could throw the notes, though
not perhaps on the upper register.
But no, all was well here too.
I was perplexed, flummoxed even, and as the client was pushed for
time he agreed to leave the instrument with me and collect it the
So I put it to one side and carried on with the other work on the
Later that day I picked up the saxophone again.
I looked it over once more, double checking those pads, working
the octave key mechanism - but to no avail. Each time I blew the
horn I got the same result...fine to G and then nothing, not even
It was only when I lowered the horn to stand it on the workbench
that I heard a most curious sound...a sort of clonk, followed by
a faint whoosh and then a telling clunk.
Something had slipped down the bore!
I peered down the bell, and there, still wobbling gently in the
bottom bow was....the mouthpiece cap.
I was amazed! I turned the horn end up and watched as the cap slid
neatly to just below the G tone hole and stuck fast. All that was
required to free it was a gentle tap on the bottom bow.
The client called in the next day, and seeing a grin on my face
asked me if I had found the solution to the sticky problem. I said
I had - and incidentally had he lost a mouthpiece cap recently?
Yes he had, and how did I know???