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Safely Storing Your Saxophone
Q.  I have a brand new Yamaha YAS-52 which I try to play for a few months. Now because of schooling and work I do not have time to play it any more. I would like to know the proper way to store the saxophone for a few years (like 3 years) so that when I decide to play again, there will be minimal damage. Many thanks for your help. Regards, Petrusky…

A. That’s a very good question. The instrument must be clean & completely dry before you put it into storage. Go through your normal cleaning routine, swab it out (both body & neck), then leave the instrument out to air dry for a day or so (on a stand, if you have one). It’s also a good idea to leave the case open to assure no moisture it trapped there, either. Once everything is totally dry, wrap the neck in a soft cloth (an old sock is good) and place it securely inside the utility compartment of your case (if the case has a special slot for the neck it’s OK to leave it there, too). If you have any accessories or supplies inside your case that might leak, rust or corrode (key oil, cork grease or whatever) take them out & store them separately – completely away from the saxophone. Clean your mouthpiece thoroughly (don’t leave a reed on it) and wrap it separately, then secure the mouthpiece and remaining accessories in the utility compartment so that they can’t be bounced around (a piece of crumpled newspaper works fine). Install your body end plug (also called ‘neck plug’) into the sax body and place the body into its spot in the main case compartment (DO NOT leave one of those ‘woolly bugger’ things they call pad savers inside your sax). Close the case and make sure it is latched securely, then place the whole case into a large plastic bag (drum liners are both large and of extra heavy thickness). Seal the bag securely. Select a storage area that is not exposed to extreme variations in temperature or humidity. Ideally, the instrument should be kept inside your home or apartment where your heating & air conditioning system controls the temp & humidity variables to within our human comfort range. A good rule of thumb is if conditions are uncomfortable to you then they will not be good for your saxophone.

Provided your sax is completely dry & the case securely bagged you could store the case in any position and be OK – IF nothing strange happens in your storage area. Having had a hot water tank burst once, I am extremely alert to the fact that things can and do go wrong in the best of our human plans, though. So I strongly recommend that saxophone cases be stored on the end — preferably the end that allows the instrument to rest on its bow bottom. Of course you need to take precautions that the case won’t be toppled over if someone gets into your storage area to search for something else – or by other random & unpredictable forces (pets, farm animals, earthquakes, and so forth), depending on where you live. Inside a sealed drum liner your sax should survive even becoming completely submerged for a reasonable period of time. In fact, you may find it floating in the possible, but unlikely event of a flood. About the only things your preparation won’t survive are fires and tornadic storms – but even in the case of fires, if your package isn’t burned it will be protected from the water & chemicals used to extinguish the blaze.

With your sax resting on its bow, any moisture that may have escaped your attempts to eradicate it in your storage preparation will drain to an area where it can do little harm inside your sax, and will seldom be seen if damage is done to the outside bow bottom. In fact, if sax cases were always left so the instruments rest on their bow ends the low Eb pad and tone holes would never get all cruddy like they do when cases are allowed to rest on their hinge side. There is absolutely noting on the inside of your bow that perpetual little puddles of your spit can harm. I believe that’s about it, Petrusky. Please let me know if additional questions arise …

Additional Comments
If your sax is a bare finish (meaning no lacquer) of silver, gold or nickel plating (or even bare brass), be sure to either wrap BOTH the body and neck in one of our CS anti tarnish wraps or place several of the Hagerty anti tarnish strips inside your case. A neat trick to keep cases smelling fresh is to place a sheet of laundry fabric softener (like you use in the dryer) inside the case with your sax. We cut these fabric softener sheets into small strips & put them in all our cases here at CS. There’s nothing quite so turn-offish as opening a musty smelling sax case — an experience we NEVER want our great CS clients to have …
special note:
Drum liners have become a staple item here at CS. We bag cases before packing for shipment to protect a sax from wet conditions during transit. We bag smelly instruments for storage while awaiting our restoration work to begin. And these huge, sturdy plastic bags will safely hold a lot more of our junk & debris than any garbage bag ever could. If you think bagging sax cases is overkill, please consider the following real life experiences. 

A number of years ago a friend who was moving across country had the tailgate of a rental truck spring open. Not only did a number of items fall out over a long expanse of highway, but the truck passed through a thunder storm which drenched much of the remaining articles. Having helped unload the truck I know what a huge mess this was. The extensive water damage was both inconvenient and expensive. 

A couple years back a barge traveling the Arkansas River Navigation Channel struck bridge pilings, causing a portion of Interstate 40 to collapse into the water. Numerous vehicles that could not stop tumbled into the water 80 or 100 feet below and immediately sunk. Among these vehicles were several semis hauling freight. Of course the human life lost was the overriding tragedy, but the truck cargo lost under water was significant to many parties not physically involved in the incident. There may or may not have been any musical instruments on the trailers, but there may be the next time something like that occurs. 

Recently the long haul truck of a very prominent & popular carrier caught fire on the road & tied up traffic in the Chicago area for long enough that it made all the cable news channels. I especially took note because we had a very valuable saxophone in transit on that very same carrier at the time, and it was on a route that would have taken it through the Chicago area. We were fortunate that our package wasn’t on the affected truck, but the shots of fire trucks pouring water over the flames is a vivid memory. I’m sure not everything on that truck burned. I am also sure everything that survived the fire was thoroughly soaked.

This one probably isn’t a true story, but we all enjoyed Tom Hanks in his fine movie, “Castaway”, which of course was about a cargo plane that didn’t make it all the way across the Pacific. That may have been fiction, but it certainly could happen — and we regularly ship saxophones from CS that traverse the world’s oceans by air. It’s good to always keep in mind that Mr. Murphy was right — drum liners are cheap insurance against the unlikely and the unthinkable …

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