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While I always use a saxophone stand, many fellow sax players don't. I have seen professionals put their horns down on flat surfaces (tables, chairs, and even the bandstand floor). Some put the left side down, some the right. Is there a "safer" way to do this to avoid damaging the horn?
 

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I always use a sax stand, but if I need to lay it down, I'll put it on the left side.

I figure that's the way it lays in the case so it must be the better choice.

I'm no expert though. A sax tech would probably know better.

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Depends on the horn. Each one has differences in keywork - left side vs. right side bell keys, how far the left hand spatula sticks out, how far the palm keys and right hand side keys stick out, etc. On horns that have a spatula cluster angled far out you don't want to lay it on that side or else you can bend that mechanism. On other horns, laying it on the left side will open up the palm D key and laying it on the right will open the side high E key because of how the horn lays and what keys/parts of the body touch first. This isn't too much of an issue because those keys won't really bend like the spatula cluster will.

If I don't have a stand I see which side is more balanced/stable and puts the least pressure on the keys and on the body instead. I prefer to have a cloth or towel or something to cushion it as well. As long as you're careful it shouldn't really matter as long as there aren't any far outward sticking keys.
 

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Most of us at some point will have to lay the sax down on a hard surface if for no other reason than to work on it. In that case you will be turning it over so it really doesn't matter where you start. If the neck stays attached, most likely you will loosen the clamp screw, turn the neck to the side and lay it down so the neck is up. I think most everyone would have the sax lying on it's LH side in that scenario. I used to do that all the time during my first ten years or so of gigging, and I wore out the neck tenon and clamp collar in the process. Using a stand, while it's inherently more risky, is a lot easier on the horn. Incidentally, if you leave a sax assembled and on a stand for long periods, you may very well find you can't remove the neck when you go to pack it up. Prevent this by oiling the tenon every so often. If it happens before you start oiling, don't force it. Remove the clamp screw. Put a regular screwdriver in the slot and just push down a little to wedge the clamp collar seam wider which will loosen it's grip on the neck. Put some key oil in the slot and let it soak for a little while to spread around the neck tenon - you should then be able to take the neck out.
 

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It may depend on the specific horn (does the location of the bell keys matter?). For me, I put my Mark VI alto on its right side, because the palm keys can press into the hard surface if I place my sax on its left side.
 

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Loosen the neck tenon screw and lay it on the left. I never use a stand as it is the riskiest way to damage a horn. Also if it is a nice horn of value, stands mutilate the bell and bow finish.
 

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Lay it on the right side if you must but if I'm not playing my horn it goes in the case even if I have to switch to flute. It would aggravate the members of last band I played in when I would put each instrument in the case. As for their aggravation ask me how much I care.

I have never used a stand and I never will.

You should never lay the horn on the left side because you're now putting stress on the G#Bb spatula and possibly the palm keys. I've seen guys look at their horn too often wondering what happened to the response after they laid it down on the left side.

To sum up, lay it on neither side, put it in the case where it's safe. When the horn is on its left side in a case there is no weight placed on the left spatula because of the padding ( if you have a good case). I have a Vanguard case, it's not idiot proof but...
So using the reasoning that you lay it down on the left side because that's the way it lays in the case doesn't fly with me.
 

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You should never lay the horn on the left side because you're now putting stress on the G#Bb spatula and possibly the palm keys. I've seen guys look at their horn too often wondering what happened to the response after they laid it down on the left side. .
This is what I've been told in the past. I agree it's best by far to put the horn in its case. Still, I have to admit I use a stand (a good one, the Saxrax) on gigs where the stage area is relatively protected from the crowd. And on occasions when I lay it down on a flat surface, I turn the neck up and lay it on the right side. Never had a problem doing that. I still agree the only 100% secure way to set it down is in the case, being sure to zip the case closed if you close the lid down.
 
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