The Chemistry of Saxophones


The saxophone is a single reed woodwind instrument that is often played in jazz,

classical, and sometimes pop music. The reason I chose this topic is because I am a saxophone player myself and enjoy playing and performing. My life is affected by the saxophone since it gives me the opportunity to read and understand scores of music, making me able to learn and appreciate all kinds of genre. Also, the saxophone allows me to participate in after school activities and travel to different places that relate to my musical practices.

Composition of ...The main components of the saxophone are the body and the mouthpiece. The body is the major feature of the saxophone, consisting of the tube, bell, and bow. The tube is the long, straight part of the body that leads to the bow, the curved part at the very bottom of the saxophone. This feature then leads to the bell, which is the flared open end of the saxophone. The mouthpiece is the top end of the saxophone, after the neck, where the player will use his/her air to blow into the instrument. This part is highly important, since it allows the player a direct link to the rest of the instrument.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    • The body’s main component is brass, which is made from copper and zinc.
  • The mouthpiece is hard rubber, which is made from soft rubber and sulfur.

Chemistry's Role

The main components of my saxophone, the body and mouthpiece, are man made final

products. The body is made of brass, which is made from combining copper and zinc. The most common brass used for the saxophone is yellow brass, containing 70% copper and 30% zinc. However, a little bit of arsenic or phosphorous can be added to make the brass tubing applications more useful. So what is the chemistry behind this? Well, copper and zinc combine through a metallic bond, where the s and p orbital valence electrons create a “sea” of electrons that encompasses the positively atomic charged nuclei of the ionic metals being used. The end product of this bond, brass, is an alloy.

The mouthpiece is made of hard rubber. The hard rubber is made from soft rubber and

sulfur. The chemistry behind this requires heat as a source of energy in order to fuse the soft rubber and sulfur together. This mixture, with the heat, creates the infusible and thermosetting polymer, which is the hard rubber.

Background Research

    • There are four main saxophone types, the soprano, alto, tenor, and bari.
    • The sax can come in different colors, such as black, white, or gold.
    • Some well known sax musicians are: Dexter Gordon, Wayne Shorter,Charlie Parker, and Cannonball.
    • The sax was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846.
  • The sax works by the means of its acoustics and physics.


How brass is made - material, history, use, dimensions, composition, structure, steps, product industry

How the saxophone is made - material, manufacture, making, history, use, parts, dimensions, composition, steps

The element copper - properties, composition, history

The element zinc - properties, composition, history

Brass - properties, use, application, types of brass

The saxophone - history, uses, jazz and popular music, saxophone family, description, mouthpiece and reed, composition, saxophone variants

The explanation of the parts of a saxophone

The in and outs of the mouthpiece of the saxophone

Information about rubber

Information on hard rubber (Ebonite)

Explains how metals bond

Explains the properties and manufacturing of all kinds of rubber

About the Author

Corbin Bodine is a junior at Billings Senior High School. He enjoys performing concert music in his school’s symphonic band as well as jazz music in his school’s jazz band. He is also a division track athlete, a senior league state baseball champion, and a fan of John Grisham novels.