Essential Saxophone Accessories
Most saxophonists carry an arsenal of Saxophone Accessories to enable them to get around under-performing reeds, quirky horn behavior, and the vigors of unexpected gigs. If you own a saxophone and you're leaving home with it to go anywhere, I mean anywhere, then it is essential for it to be in a Sax Case. Below is a general list of saxophone accessories that can be useful to the everyday and traveling saxophonists, respectively.
- Extra Reeds/Ligatures/Mouthpieces: Any of the aforementioned essentials can break or go missing at any time. You'll especially be grateful for those extra reeds when your favorite becomes temperamental.
- Neck Strap: Vital to playing the saxophone comfortably, a decent neck strap provides neck comfort, a solid hold on the saxophone, and good height support for the comfort of your hands and wrists.
- Cork Grease: This is essential for the longevity of a neck's cork! Without this, you run the risk of tearing off some cork while forcing the mouthpiece on or off of the neck.
- Cleaning Rag with Weight: It is imperative to run a cleaning rag through your saxophone after a play session to get out any condensation that is still within the horn. You can drop the weight (which is often attached via string to a cleaning cloth) through the bell and pull it through the neck opening or vice versa.
- Pencil with Eraser: For solo or group practice sessions, a pencil is great for jotting down a quick note on the chart that can easily be removed later.
If you practice at home a lot and either, your house has paper thin walls like mine, or your neighbours are right next door, then it could be worthwhile investing in a Saxophone Mute
Portable Sheet Music Stand: For saxophonists planning on playing in many unknown locales, this is a must. A music stand shortage can make an otherwise fun gig a bit too cozy. Many fold up to be quite compact, so be sure that you're purchasing something made of a durable material, such as metal.
Portable Saxophone Stand: These stands are great for holding a sax in addition to a clarinet, flute, or oboe. If you plan on doubling at a gig, it will keep all instruments ready at hand for quick, risk-free swapping. Be sure to get a stand that appropriately fits the size of your saxophone bell without causing stress or bending of the metal. Also, if it comes with pegs for a flute, clarinet, or other woodwind, be sure that they fit comfortable without wobbling.
If you find that one of your woodwind doubles is wobbling, but not excessively, you can cover the peg with a soft, scratch-free fabric to make the fit more appropriately snug.
Sax Mic: An important piece of equipment for gigs where the a lot of volume is needed. The Sax is a loud instrument already, but line up on stage with an Electic Guitar, Bass and Keyboard you may find yourself being drowned out a little.
Wine Corks/Small Pieces of Cork/Small Rubber Stoppers: For plane travel or any other situation where you fear that a saxophone may have a bumpy ride, use corks to gently hold down the lower pads underneath nearby rods. WARNING: Do not force a cork that does not fit! Be gentle to assure that tone holes close normally and are not forced to bend unnaturally.
A lead saxophonist in an Ensemble, would also consider these Saxophone Accessories:
- Metronome: Getting a group through a tough classical passage is far easier with the aid of a small, digital metronome.
- Tuning pipes/tuning fork: Although a tuning fork will provide a reference pitch, a tuning pipe often provides a higher volume note if one is tuning a larger group. If you are looking to save space in your gig bag, many digital metronomes also have tuning options.
Depending on the kinds of gigs you play, or what your role is in various ensembles, you may be required to have far more Saxophone Accessories on hand that what I have mentioned above. This list is just the beginning of a great arsenal for a successful saxophonist.