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
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.
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,