The following are some definitions pertaining to the saxophone and its accessories. This list will be added to frequently. With all the terms and jargon of the instrument, these definitions could add up to hundreds! (In the future it probably will.)

Adjustment Screw: A small screw that makes a fine adjustment in the opening or closing of a key. (click for picture)

Adolphe Sax: The father of our fair instrument. Belgian, (1814-1894)

Alto: Second voice in the saxophone family. Considered the primary sax.

Arm: The piece that connects the rod to the cup.(click for picture)

Baffle: The inside of the top part of a mouthpiece.(click for picture)

Bari: slang for Baritone, fourth major voice in the saxophone family.

Bass: Fifth voice in the saxophone family. Not used very often outside of special saxophone ensembles.

Bell: The end, flared opening of the saxophone.(click for picture)

Bis Bb: An alternate Bb key located between the first finger B natural key and the second finger C key. It is used in conjunction with the B natural key. (Bis in French means, "again", or "smaller".)(click for picture)

Body: The main part of the sax.(click for picture)

Bow: The bottom part of a sax. It connects the bell to the body. It resembles the P-trap in plumbing.(click for picture)

Bumper Cork (or Bumper felt): A small piece of cork--or felt--that prevents noise from occurring between keys and the body or other keys.(click for picture)

Cap: Or "mouthpiece cap". Protective cover for the mouthpiece (and reed if attached). These are usually made of metal or plastic.(click for picture)

Chamber: Inside part of a mouthpiece.

Conical: Shape resembling a cone. The saxophone is a conical instrument.

Cradle: A piece with a single groove used to hold a spring in place.(click for picture)

Cup: The "inside" of the key where the pad sits.

Embouchure: The setting and placement of the lips, teeth, tongue, throat, and jaw on and around the mouthpiece.

End Plug: Plastic device that the player puts in the receiver of the body when the sax is in the case. It protects the octave mechanism post that sticks up above the body.(click for picture)

Keys: The mechanisms that open or close holes.

Leak: When a pad does not seal completely over the tone hole, causing all kinds of performance problems.

Leaker: A saxophonist--or any musician--who plays poorly and brings down his section or band.

Leak Light: A small light stick or light rope that a technician inserts into the sax body. It will reveal leaks in pads if slivers of light show between the pad and the tone hole.

Ligature: A metal, plastic, or leather strap that affixes the reed to the mouthpiece.(click for picture)

Lip: The edge around the bell opening. This can either be soldered on to the bell or rolled.(click for picture)

Loop: The top part of the baritone saxophone. The alto-shaped neck attaches to the receiver on this part of the bari. DO NOT carry the instrument by holding the loop; it is connected to the body by only one solder point and a brace.(click for picture)

Lower Stack: The lower half of the sax. Basically the right or bottom hand set of keys.

Lyre: A marching band accessory. It is a plastic or metal clip that holds marching band music, which is usually around 6"X5" in size.(click for picture)

Lyre Screw: The screw that tightens the lyre in place.(click for picture)

Lyre Socket: Small part, usually near the top of the sax body, that holds the lyre.(click for picture)

Metronome: Electronic or mechanical device used to produce a steady pulse. An essential practice tool to developing good sense of beat.(click for picture)

Mute: Often called a "donut". Round, ring shaped device, usually wrapped in felt, and placed in the bell for intonation and tambre control.(click for picture)

Neck: The top part of the sax. It has a large cork on it, and connects the mouthpiece with the body of the sax.(click for picture)

Neck Strap: Worn around the player's neck to suspend the sax. It is acceptable for soprano players to use neck straps too.(click for picture)

Neck Tenon: Large part of the neck which fits into the body of the sax, called the receiver.(click for picture)

Pad: A round, leather (or other synthetic material) part that provides a seal for the key around the tone hole.(click for picture)

Pivot Screw: A small screw that connects a rod into a post.

Post: A piece that elevates rods above the sax body.(click for picture)

Receiver: The top part of the sax body where the neck fits into. Sometimes called the neck socket, or receiver socket.(click for picture)

Receiver Screw: The screw that tightens the neck into the sax body at the receiver. Sometimes called the socket screw.(click for picture)

Reed: Piece of wood cut from cane—usually grown in France—attached to the mouthpiece that causes the vibration which creates sound.

Resonator: The small, round, plastic or metal piece in the center of a pad. These can have a significant effect on tone.(click for picture)

Rod: The linkage part of a key that connects a lever to a cup.(click for picture)

Rush, sometimes called Reed Rush: A piece of natural reed (not the kind of reed that’s on a mouthpiece) that has ribbing along its side used to sand down or smooth a sax reed.

Saxophone: Basically a combination of clarinet and trumpet. Prototype completed in 1841, first patent in 1846. Multiple companies began their designs and production in 1866 following expiration of the initial patent by Adolphe Sax.

Sliver Sucker: A reed instrument player

Solder Points: The point where any two parts are soldered together. The fewer the better. Examples: posts are soldered to the body; braces are soldered to the body.

Sop: Slang for Soprano, the highest major voice in the saxophone family.

Sopranino: Higher voice than the soprano. Not used very often outside of special saxophone ensembles.

Spring or Needle Spring: A slender piece of steel (that resembles a sewing needle) which provides tension to keep a key up or down.(click for picture)

Table: The flat side of a mouthpiece where the flat side of the reed—also called a table—connect.(click for picture)

Tenon: (See, Neck Tenon)

Tenor: Third major voice in the saxophone family.

Tip: The thinnest edge of a mouthpiece. Also the thinnest edge of a sax reed.(click for picture)

Tone Holes: The various sized round holes in the body of the sax. The pads cover them. Tone holes are either straight, which means they are separate pieces soldered to the body; or rolled, which are formed from the metal of the body as one piece.(click for picture)

Upper Stack: The upper half of the sax. Basically the left or top hand set of keys.

Vamp, also called the Heart: middle part of a reed.

Window: The rectangular opening under the mouthpiece. Behind the window is the Table.(click for picture)

Woodwimp: A woodwind player who is weak, nonaggressive, and lacks good technique.

Return from Definitions to Saxophone-guy Homepage


Click here at go directly to the store!

Vandoren M O Ligature


Neck Strap