Posted 28/Nov 2010 at 22:19
by in Music & Sound read by 648 people

Haynes Saxophone Manual - A sax player's must-have

This book was written by a friend of mine who is the best woodwind repair man I have ever, ever met. I have bought some old horns in the past with bends, leaks, dents and yes, even holes. I was introduced to Stephen Howard, author of the Haynes Saxophone Manual, back in the 90s by a friend of mine. He once took a baritone apart completely and rebuilt it such that I can whisper the low b flat without effort, and with ANY mouthpiece! Now considering how long the air needs to travel in a baritone sax (the largest sax except for the the bass and contrabass saxophones), this really means something.

Check out Stephen's site for more information about the author, his exquisite writing style of life in a saxophone repair workshop and, very interestingly, his reviews of various saxophones, not from a players' point of view but from a technician's point of view. Don't worry though, it's not dry stuff. Stephen's reviews even make entertaining reading if you don't play a woodwind instrument at all. On the site are reviews of saxophone brands such as Conn, Selmer, Yamaha, Keilwerth, Mauriat, Martin, Bauhaus, Buescher and even throws in some reviews of up and coming cheap Chinese horns such as Altone and Walstein.

In addition, Stephen tackles useful things such as how to clean a saxophone neck, how to keep your mouthpiece clean, and he even gives a heads up on the best results of the Frankfurt Musikmesse.

Personal experience

The book is a must-have, it can help a player perform simple maintenance on his or her instrument or even go that step further and hazard more complex repairs. I can imagine this book is especially helpful for musicians on the road who have to keep their axe performing but don't have time, money or proximity to a repair man.

This book gives immediate use when needing to perform for jobs such as cork replacements, pad replacements, pad alignment, rod reinforcements, dent repairs and fault finding, Stephen's clear explanations and accompanying photographs guiding the way.


The Haynes Saxophone Manual is a well-worth investment for any woodwind player who is dependent on the instrument in one way or another.

Stephen Howard's website will keep you reading for a while, and coming back for more every now and then. Stephen has made learning about your instrument fun again.

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