This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.
Join Now

Basic Saxophone
Intermediate Saxophone
Advanced Saxophone
Exercise of the Week Archive
Lick of the Week Archive
30 Day Challenge
Video Exchange Archive
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Sax Lessons: Choosing a Saxophone - Care & Maintenance

Video Exchanges () Submit a Video Lesson Resources () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Music Theory
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Tools for All Lessons +
Collaborations for
Submit a video for   

This video lesson is available only to members of
Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.

Join Now

Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Sax Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
Log In
Okay, so let's talk
about choosing a horn.
As you can see,
I've got my alto here with me.
By the way, in these lessons,
I've got my soprano, my tenor, so
I won't be just referring exclusively to
alto, but I've got this one with me now.
As you can see,
this alto is not brand new.
This is a Mark VI, serial number 201695
for all you Mark VI geeks out there.
I bought this brand new
when I was 15 years old.
Back then,
these were the new horns to get.
And so,
I've obviously been playing it ever since.
So, I got it when I was 14 or 15,
I guess, so I've had it for 10, 11 years.
Kidding, I've had it for
way longer than that.
And so, with this particular horn,
it could be shinier
if I were to relacquere it or plate it
with a sliver or gold, I wouldn't do that.
I know people who have however,
and it can be a good thing,
it can be a bad thing,
in terms of the way the horn responds.
So if you are looking for
a vintage horn like this.
My personal recommendation is
to enjoy it the way it is and
not try to, if you're just starting
out and you want it to be shinier.
And you've got some extra money and
you want to I want to get it plated or
relaquered i would absolutely
advise against it.
I'd rather have you buy
something shiny to begin with,
because if you like the way it
is when you first get it and
then you do the plating it would more
than likely change it drastically.
So be aware of that.
So, which horns to get,
which brands would I recommend?
This is a selmor my
instruments of choice for sure.
Great horns.
Yamaha makes great horns.
kyleworth cannonballs eastmans
are good horns as well.
How much you might spend on a horn?
You know, I probably shouldn't
mention numbers, if you have a,
that'd be a good video exchange
question to send me if you find a horn.
And you're worried about the price and
you have a question and
you think you're not really sure
that that's a good price for you or
not, send me a quick question and
I'll let you know my response.
So, once you have your horn and
you're happy with it.
You know, how to take care of it.
I mean we're gonna talk last about putting
it together and you know the way to
you know, put it together properly and
take it apart properly too.
But taking care of it is important.
I mean, yeah, I bought this one when I
was 15 years old, this is my go to horn,
every record that I've done
has been on this horn.
And so I take really great care of it.
I have a technician, Mike Cleveland at
Horn Improvement down in Orange County,
Little shout out to Mike,
who is super great.
And I'm a regular down there at the shop,
and it's amazing with saxophones.
It's amazing in a bad way,
that things can go wrong really quickly.
And if you're a beginning player
you may not realize that.
If one little spring, springs don't break
very often but they might become unseated.
Or, one little thing like that
suddenly the horn won't work at all.
And if you're not used to looking for
that kind of thing, cuz it's rather small,
you'll just think wow,
I can't play anymore.
What happened?
Or pardon me, or a pad might become,
might rip or whatever.
So it's good to take your instrument
to a trusted repairman occasionally.
I play all the time, obviously, so
I go more than just occasionally but.
Also it's important to make sure
that you oil your horn well.
It's not something you have to do a lot.
In fact you know I probably oil my horn
you know once every few months but
it's important.
You know eventually obviously
there's a lot of metal on metal.
So what I do, I'm not gonna open this
because I don't want to get grease
all over my fingers in the middle of these
lessons, but a little key oil like that.
And just kind of go through it and
just tap on one little dab,
a little goes a very long way.
So you barely even have to squeeze a dab.
So between all of those
metal on metal points and
all the little points where you see spots,
working spots,
spots where things are moving.
Just have those nice and lubed up and
it'll keep your horn, well,
it'll keep your horn in better shape.
But it'll help your horn last a whole
lot longer, so be aware of that.
So let's talk about putting this thing
together properly and taking it apart.
I guess since it's together
now I'll start from here.
Well actually,
let's talk about the mouthpiece, okay?
So what we have is our mouthpiece and,
ta da.
And our reeds.
And the ligature,
which holds the reed onto the mouthpiece.
So, we can get a shot of this,
you put your reed on the bottom
of the mouthpiece like that.
So that the rails,
the sides of the reed match up with
the side of the mouthpiece like that.
You've gotta be careful to make sure,
this is important,
that the tip of the reed doesn't
go over the tip of the mouthpiece.
Or not to far under.
Or down, I should say.
So you don't wanna be
sticking way out like that.
And you certainly don't want it
to be sticking way in like that.
So nice and even.
I just put my finger like that.
And make sure it's pretty even,
look at it across like that.
And so the position of the reed
is really important, but
I guarantee if you don't do this right,
you're gonna break a lot of reeds and
reeds are expensive and
you don't want to break them.
So be super careful,
when you put your ligature on like that,
just slide that puppy like that,
bring it down,
and tighten it up.
Now check this out, when,
see this break away
point where the top of the you know,
the angle of the mouthpiece stops,
where you get to the main
barrel of the mouthpiece here.
You want to make sure that the ligature
isn't too far forward, so it goes over
that point, and certainly not too far
back where it's obviously off the reed.
I'm gonna talk about the position of that
ligature is really important as
you start playing more and more.
I'll refer to that in its own lesson
actually, later down the road.
But anyway,
you want to tighten it like that.
Don't tighten it too much because
you'll break the ligature.
You don't have to clamp
it on there too crazy.
But anyway,
there's your mouthpiece all set.
Your neck, obviously,
goes on the horn like so.
Not too complicated.
And you wanna tighten it here, the neck
screw is always the one on the right.
The other one, you may or
may not have on your horn, mine's not
even here anymore, is your lyre screw.
Remember back in,
well you may not remember because
you were just starting out.
But in marching band if you're marching
and you have your music right here and
you that thing that holds the music, that
little piece of music while your marching.
Having dreaded memories of that.
Is called a lyre and it fits into here.
And the lyre screw would be in here.
And I probably took it off just
after my last day of high school
marching band just out of sheer protest.
[LAUGH] Anyway, so again you don't want to
tighten this too much because it's not,
you know it's not big.
So it'll break if you
tighten it down crazy.
So, but you wanna make sure it's tight
enough so that it, this guy doesn't move.
And, mouthpiece goes
on to the neck thusly.
When we're playing our instrument
obviously we wanna play in tune.
There's a whole lesson on that as well.
But just know that when
we're tuning our instrument,
the farther down you push your mouthpiece,
the higher the pitch.
So if you're a little flat you wanna
push your mouthpiece down a little bit.
And If you're a little sharp, or
above the pitch you want to pull
the mouthpiece out a little bit like that.
A lot of times, if your ligature
isn't tight enough, it will move, so
actually, that's straight.
So yeah, so obviously when you pull
your mouthpiece out that's making
whole instrument a little bit longer.
And so the longer the horn,
the lower the pitch.
The shorter the horn,
the higher the pitch.
So there you go.
If you have any other questions
about that, a with everything else,
please send me a video exchange and
I'll hit you right back.
There you go,
you've got your horn all put together and
you're ready to go onto the next step.
See you on the next one.