Yesterday I took a break during practice and when I returned I noticed my F key will only reliably play an F#, so when going through the chromatic scale my F and F# fingerings are now playing the same note. This happens with and without the octave key engaged. I also have discovered that if I press the D key and F key but exclude the key in the middle, I will get a normal F instead of an F#. I had laid the saxophone down on my chair during the break so I have been blaming myself. I have looked at the pads and the octave key but I am a beginner who started learning saxophone during the quarantine so I am hesitant to mess with anything without someone more experienced's opinion, the local music store has a minimum week waiting period for repairs so I'm hoping this might be something I can fix myself at least until things ease up a little. I clean the saxophone out after every practice

  • "I also have discovered that if I press the D key and F key but exclude the key in the middle, I will get a normal F instead of an F#" That's normal I would say to get a F with that fingering... So when playing F, you get a F# ? Or the other way around?
    – Tom
    Jun 5, 2020 at 17:30
  • When I play an F I get an F#. No other notes are affected
    – Luke
    Jun 5, 2020 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


If you look on the left side of the instrument (i.e. the opposite side to where your fingers are) and press the F-key, you will see the opposite end of the F-key lift a bar which is connected to other keys. On the end of the F-key, where it lift the bar there should be a piece of cork. It looks like this has fallen off so you should replace it. The cork on the end of the E-key will serve as a model.

  • I do not understand how they would make the F sharp. The hole it's closing is right under the finger. It's true there are a lot of things in that and I may have missed something..
    – Tom
    Jun 5, 2020 at 20:44
  • @Tom_C If the cork on the F-key is missing, the pad above the F-key will not close and you'll get an F-sharp, but it will close if E or D are pressed.
    – PiedPiper
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:18
  • If the pad above the F-key does not close I would have said you get a G, as this pad need to be closed to get a F#
    – Tom
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:46
  • @Tom_C If the cork is missing the pad will be very slightly open (about the thickness of the missing cork), not enough to give you a G
    – PiedPiper
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:51
  • Maybe I'm thinking to much in binary ^^! Seems logic. However, I would have said that a slightly open back F# key would have the same symptoms. When few of the following keys are closed, the slight leak is not of an as great importance…
    – Tom
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:57

In saxophone acoustic, excepting the octave key and weird fingerings in the altissimo, the first open valve starting from the beak will determine the note.

When playing an F, the "lowest" closed valve is the one which is right under your right hand forefinger. Thus, if you get a F# with that fingering there are two possibilities:

  • this pad is not closing completely
  • the alternate pad for F#, with is opened by the nacre key (see img) is not closing completely.

You can try to action a few times the second one, maybe something got trapped. You can also check if the spring which is keeping this pad closed is properly placed.

If that does not work, you can test if these pads are completely closing by putting a cigarette paper under the pads, closing them, and see if you encounter any resistance when trying to remove the paper. If there is no resistance at some places of the pad then you have a leak. If that is the case, and you are not experienced with adjusting pads, I think the easiest (and safest) would be to give that job to a repair shop.

Adjusting pads can be tricky…

Hope that helps,

nacre key

  • This can't be the solution. If either of those pads are not closing properly then none of the lower notes will work.
    – PiedPiper
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.