Water buildup in neck octave vent on alto and tenor sax


Long Island
Hello all,

For the past months, I have begun to experience water building up in the neck octave vent of my YAS 62iii and the schools YTS 62iii. The water causes a very noticeable hiss on high A and #A that is nonexistent after blowing the water out by removing the neck, covering the tenon end with my palm, and blowing through the mouthpiece.
I use the original necks and Vandoren A/T-L3s on both instruments.

This started happening on alto shortly after I purchased it about four or five months ago; It took me a while to realize that water in the vent was the problem (my band director realized that high A is the first note that uses that vent and suggested that it could be the problem, I did my little fix on a whim, and, lo and behold, a sizeable bead of water shot out of my horn's octave vent). When I told my teacher, he suggested that the hole could have been drilled too small during manufacturing, which made sense. The intonation is really good on my sax anyway, so I decided to deal with it and just plow out the pip every so often while playing.

More recently, this has been happening on tenor. this is surprising because I have used that tenor for two years and not experienced the neck vent issue until becoming more of an alto player.

I'll be making a trip to the store I bought my sax within the next two months because that would mark the semi-aniversary of when I bought it, but before I mention this to the tech, I would like some opinions:
Could this be a result of my technique adjusting as I play more alto?
Am I just making more spit?
Is my breath just warmer than it used to be?
Most importantly: Is this a result of the horn, or myself?

Here are my answers to my own questions:
Most probable cause.
Maybe as a result of the adjusted technique, but I doubt that spit could make it all the way to the pip to clog it up.
Doubt it, but you never know.
I think it's myself.

I'm fairly confident in those answers, but I'm really posting as more of a way to share and discuss any solutions people with similar problems might have had, or different causes than what I think (or whether or not I'm even right, for that matter).

My solution: Cover the tenon end with your palm. Open the octave vent with your thumb. Blow through the mouthpiece.
That's not ideal because if you're playing a long song without a lot of rests, you're stuck with the hiss, and kind of looks a bit odd on stage.
Another solution I found on the internet it to put something hydrophobic, like oil, in the vent, but this too is only a temporary fix.
You might want to be conscious of how you are holding the sax and how you are putting it down. Moisture/condensation does form inside a neck while playing. However the neck octave vent is at the top of the tube. It is unlikely that a noticeable amount of moisture can accumulate inside the octave vent tube unless the neck is laid on its side or is upside down. As a "wet" player I have developed the habit over the years of swallowing the saliva in my mouth before I begin to play and also drawing the air backwards through the mouthpiece during rests to take the moisture back where it came from. This is only gross if you never wash your mouthpiece.
I do rest my tenor on my leg when I sit in band, and let the alto dangle when I'm not playing it. I'll pay more attention to this.

Is it possible some particle got stuck in the vent? I havn't thought of that one yet somehow. What you said makes sense, but I've always rested the tenor on my leg. I guess cleaning it can't hurt...
I have had moisture build up in the neck octave vent as well. I never lay a sax down, and always stand when playing, but moisture still gets in the vent. It is noticeable when playing A2. My quick solution is to open the octave vent and forcefully blow across the pip. This clears out the moisture, and A plays clearly again.
This is interesting. I've noticed a similar thing with A2, in fact I mentioned it to my teacher as I thought it maybe me. I have a YAS 62iii as well.

When / if it happens again I'll try and clear the vent and see if it goes away.

Always a good idea to clean out the octave vents on the saxophone neck and body on a regular basis - use a pipe cleaner or a paper clip bent into shape to push through the holes, be careful not to damage the pad on the saxophone body octave vent. You can also remove the neck octave key from the sax neck and flush water through the neck pipe. For any doublers on clarinet the register key vent of the clarinet can also get water accumulating in it as well.

Greg S.
Clean out the vents with a pipe cleaner. Surprising what can accumulate and grow in a moist enviroment.

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