I am wondering what is the utility of the two small levers under the G# key of an alto saxophone (hightlighted in picture, pressed by the little finger of the left hand).

It does not seem to have any use (for instance to avoid the key to go too high, as it is blocked by the valve closing) except lowering it when bass D# or bass B keys are pressed. Is that only for comfort or I missed something?


  • I haven’t messed with a sax for a LONG time but it looks like that G# key needs to be pressed down when you play either a C# or B with your left pinky so the levers do it automatically. – John Belzaguy May 21 '20 at 1:30
  • Yes, but does this have any reason except for comfort? When playing bass C# or B, the G# valve is closed by the F key anyway. My guess would be it is only to get this G# out of the way when reaching far keys with the little finger. – Tom May 21 '20 at 6:36
  • Nit - these are not "valves," but "pads." – Carl Witthoft May 21 '20 at 14:14

The connection is useful if you are playing combinations like C♯-G♯: you can leave your left hand fourth finger on the C♯ key and you only need to move the right hand fingers. The same for the combinations B-G♯ and B♭-G♯.

  • Thanks, I didn't think of that! I was looking for some mechanical reason, but this seems a perfectly good reason for these links for something else than having the G# key in the way when pressing bass B and others. – Tom May 21 '20 at 18:12
  • I actually want to remove them for a project, thus, this should not have consequences if not using these combinations) – Tom May 21 '20 at 18:19
  • @Tom_C There's nothing to stop you removing them if you don't need them. It would reduce the resale value of your instrument. – PiedPiper May 21 '20 at 18:31
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    @Pyromonk you can check my profile for a glance on my projects ;) – Tom Nov 14 '20 at 7:54
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    @Pyromonk There's also a commercial EWI built into a sax body, the Synthophone – PiedPiper Nov 14 '20 at 11:25

Some of those links between keys are there to 'rotate' the neighboring keys when one is pressed. This makes it much easier to slide the pinky finger from one key to the next when playing chromatic passages or fast passages involving the various notes belonging to those keys. Generally that applies to keys with the rollers between them.

Other links hold down a key because both pads need to be closed for the note in question and it's silly(!!) to make the user hold down two keys.

  • Thanks for your answer. I understand the global idea between those links as sometimes several needs to be moved at the same time. My question is really about the two links of the G#. The pad for G# is anyway closed by the F key, so the G# does not really have to move for playing bass B, C# and Bb. – Tom May 21 '20 at 14:22
  • @Tom_C take a careful look at all possible two- and three-note sequences and I think you'll find uses for these links. I used to play sax pretty seriously but it's been [redacted] years and I don't recall the exact sequences. – Carl Witthoft May 21 '20 at 14:30
  • Yes, I did, but the three down keys for that little finger are meant to be pressed when all fingers (except the small one) of the right hand are pressed, thus closing the G# pad. I'm pretty sure these links are for convenience only but it is hard to be sure as the sax is such a complicated system... – Tom May 21 '20 at 14:34
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    The connection the poster shows is not one of those 'rotating' links. – PiedPiper May 21 '20 at 18:02

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