How to fix a squeaking saxophone the easy way guide

How to fix a squeaking Saxophone

Written by Greger Hillman, Saxophone teacher and music educator

As a saxophone player you will run into the issues with a squeaking saxophone sooner or later. Over my 35 years of playing and teaching saxophone I've seen and heard it all when it comes to squeaking saxophones. So, in this article I share my best tips for preventing and stopping squeaks on the sax.

7 reasons your saxophone is squeaking and how to fix it

Go through this list to troubleshoot why your saxophone i squeaking. It may be just one of the reasons below. However, from my experience it can often be a combination of several minor issues that cause your sax to sqeak.

Playing a Reed that is too soft

If you are using a reed that is too soft it will cause your saxophone to squeak. It can work on certain notes but you will especially notice that the squeaking gets worse as you move into the upper register on your saxophone. A “good reed” plays well through the entire range of the saxophone. Check out the “Saxophone reed guide” to get help picking a reed with the correct strength for your situation. 

The Reed is too dry

To get a good saxophone sound you need the reed to vibrate. If you're playing a dry reed it will be harder to get it to vibrate. It also affects the seal between the reed and the mouthpiece resulting in leaking air and also squeaking which is no good.

Simply by making the reed wet this problem goes away, as long as you have a good reed with a flat tip.

Misaligned or Damaged Sax Reed

If the reed is misaligned on the mouthpiece it will not be able to vibrate freely. That will also affect your overall sound but further more it's a common reason why you end up with a squeaking sax. The solution is to make sure that put the saxophone reed on the mouthpiece the correct way, so that it lines up with the rails and tip of the mouthpiece.

Bad embouchure that use too much pressure on the reed

If you are putting to much pressure on the reed with your bottom lip it will dampen the vibration but also cause that annoying squeaky sound. The same goes for your entire embouchure and the way you position your mouthpiece in your mouth.

This is a common issue that pretty much every saxophone beginner needs to work through.

The solution is to adjust your saxophone embouchure, so that it becomes more loose instead of pinching or playing with that tight feeling around the mouthpiece. That's a bad habit you need to address if you want to become a better sax player.

I just Pressing additional sax keys by accident

When you get started playing the saxophone there's a lot to deal with at the same time. Pressing sax keys by accident while figuring out the fingerings and embouchure is all part of the process.

I've taught 100s of saxophone students over the years and there's always a phase when you need to both learn and get comfortable with the saxophone fingerings.

Having a sax tutor who can help you spot these types of issues is very helpful. However, you can help yourself by standing infront of a mirror and check for any keys that you could be pressing by accident.

The palm keys in your left hand and the side keys in your right hand are the most common sax keys to be pressed by accident. Especially if it's a young student and they have smaller hands. Then it can be challenging to avoid pressing the side keys.

But it also comes down to your posture and how you hold your saxophone. These things combined needs to work together in order to get a solid sound to begin with. And if they aren't then you can get those squeaky notes on your sax. 

Key pads that needs to be replaced

Your saxophone have key pads that cover the key holes when you finger notes. If those pads are damaged or worn out they will not seal. You will have a leaking saxophone and without that seal you will not be able to play your sax.

If that is the case you need to bring your saxophone to a woodwind repair shop, so that a specialist can go through and fix it. That also applies to the overall condition of your saxophone. If you drop it or bend a key by accident I do recommend that you bring it to a repair shop to get a technician to work on it that knows how to fix a saxophone.

Skipping ahead on your saxophone journey

Learning the basics takes some time. If you are getting started playing saxophone it is normal to run into issues like squeaking notes. Don't be discouraged by it. Just know that it's all a part of the process. As you go through the points above in this article you can rule out the most common issues with squeaking notes. 

If you've gone through the steps and it still isn't working, I would recommend that you keep focusing on the fundamentals, playing long notes and developing your embouchure.

Eventually it will all “click” and it will all fall into place. You've to trust me on this as I've experienced this myself when I got started playing sax some 35 years ago. I've also taught hundreds of sax students and this has always been one of those hurdles you need to go over.

FAQ about squeaking Saxophone issues

There can be many different reasons to why your saxophone is squeaking. However, based on my experience it usually comes down to one or more of the reasons listed above.

Why does my saxophone squeak on G

Using a reed that is to soft is the most common reason for a squeaking G note on saxophone. There could also be a variation of related issues such as a misaligned reed, faulty key pads or pressing side keys or palm keys on the saxophone by accident. You can walk through the checklist above to find out what's causing your saxophone to squeak on G.

Why does my saxophone squeak on G

Using a reed that is to soft is the most common reason for a squeaking G note on saxophone. There could also be a variation of related issues such as a misaligned reed, faulty key pads or pressing side keys or palm keys on the saxophone by accident. You can walk through the checklist above to find out what's causing your saxophone to squeak on G.

How do I stop squeaking on saxophone?

Start by looking over your saxophone. There could be issues with a misaligned reed, too tight embouchure with much tension around the mouthpiece, leaking key pads and more. Use the list above to pinpoint the cause and find a solution. 

Saxophone teacher online Greger Hillman

Written by Greger Hillman

Greger Hillman is a saxophone teacher with +36 years of experience playing saxophone. 

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Greger Hillman is a saxophone teacher and musician from Sweden.

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