The saxophone neck, sometimes known as the crook, is a removable part of a saxophone that creates a conduit of air from the mouthpiece to the body of the saxophone.
All saxophone bodies are built with a matching neck for use, but it is also possible to mix and match different necks to achieve different sound qualities. Necks can be lacquered or unlacquered, or may be crafted from a totally different material than the body, such as silver, gold, copper, or wood. This article will step you through matching up a separate neck and saxophone body for a good fit.
Time for a New Saxophone Neck!
When shopping for a new neck, be sure to spend time trying it out and ensuring a good fit between the new neck and your saxophone:
- Take the time to inspect the opening of the body’s neck for cracks. A leak light is especially helpful here: in a dimly lit room, ask a friend to slowly lower a thin snake light through your horn while you hold down all of the keys for the lowest note on your horn (think Bb or A, depending on what you have). Light will leak out of the body where any cracks or aging pads are not sealing, enabling you to make adjustments where they are need.
- If the neck opening is an uneven shape, you can use a caliper or stencil to verify that the opening is a perfect circle. If not, consider contacting a saxophone repair shop. They can use a dent rod to gently reshape a bent or dented opening. If you want to try it yourself, a dent ball can be used to slowly open the neck as needed, but you must go slowly and take repeated measurements to ensure that the shape of the opening is still a perfect circle.
- Check that the neck has a snug fit into the body of your saxophone. If it is too wide and does not fit your saxophone despite loosening the neck opening turnkey, consider revisiting the previously mentioned dent ball method to widen the opening. If it is a close fit, try lubricating the neck and opening with petroleum jelly. If it wobbles, try tightening the neck opening turnkey.
- Be sure that the octave key of the new neck properly aligns with the key lever of the body. A little tape around the lever where the key leverages the curved rod that contains the octave vent pad can help when a tone hole that doesn’t quite close, whereas an overly-sensitive octave key may need to be bent to achieve a better feel.
- Some saxophone artisans craft handmade necks that match specific saxophone bodies. Be sure to ask about your saxophone model before making a purchase. You may be asked to measure the neck opening or send your current neck to the artisan to get a new neck that fits precisely if your horn is a special make or custom horn. Depending on the quality and expense of the new neck, this process may be worthwhile.
Much like purchasing a mouthpiece, shopping for a new neck requires trial and patience. You will want to play through as many varied scales and styles of music of your repertoire as possible to ensure that the neck is a good fit for your nuances and overall tone.