Get Gig Ready

6 Essential Accessories For A Gigging Saxophonist

Sax Accessories

There have been many times that players have come in, whether they have been playing for 1 year or 20 years and ask if and when they should start gigging. The answer to that is easy: right now! You don’t have to be exceptionally talented to go and gig. There will be collectives, big bands and all kinds of groups at all levels waiting for you to grace them with your skills. But, to start gigging, you are going to need some gear. 

The world of saxophone gear and accessories is vast and sometimes terrifying. The good news is that I, the benevolent writer of this blog, am here to guide you through the 6 essential accessories for a gigging saxophonist.


It seems super obvious; because it is. To be able to gig you need to carry your saxophone around in a case that will provide security for your horn. The case that your saxophone was provided with will be fine for taking it to and from lessons or maybe some local jam sessions. But, eventually, you will want to upgrade to something more compact, that offers more storage and definitely something that offers better protection.

For Storage: Protec PROPAC Case

When it comes to stowing away all of those bits and bobs, from reeds to stands right through to microphone set-ups and other bulky gear, there isn’t a case quite as up for the task as the Protec PROPAC Case. With storage pockets on the outside of the case as well as plenty of storage within it, the Protec PROPAC allows a gigging musician to put everything they could possibly need into the case and never fear about leaving gear at home.

For Compact Travel: BAM Cabine

If being as light and compact as possible is what you’re looking for, the BAM Cabine is the case for you. These cases are designed to be as innocuous as possible, ensuring that even a tenor saxophone can get on as hand luggage without any issues whatsoever. The cases are beautifully made, with a delightful overall finish that is incredibly slick. 

The sacrifice you are making with the Cabine is in storage space. There is zero room for anything inside the case beyond the saxophone itself. Even the neck and mouthpiece will have to pop down the bell as there isn’t space even for those in the case.

For Ultimate Protection: Hiscox Artist

If you are looking for the ultimate case in terms of protection, the Hiscox Artist is the case for you. The outer case can withstand up to 1000lb of weight without failing. The inside lining is designed to cushion and protect your saxophone, regardless of the bell key alignments (good news for you vintage sax players) and there is plenty of space inside for all the accessories. The Hiscox, when it comes to protecting your saxophone, is the ultimate case. The downside will be that it is absolutely massive and rather heavy. It is a cumbersome thing to carry around and, when taken on a plane, will almost certainly become hold-luggage, and when it comes to baggage handlers, even a Hiscox can’t 100% guarantee your saxophone’s safety.


The neck strap is just one of those things we as saxophonists tend to overlook. When we buy a saxophone we just suffer through whatever comes in the box without any consideration as to what that will eventually do to our necks and backs overtime. Having a good strap will help alleviate some of that pain and in turn will allow you to focus on your sound and looking super cool.

Straps come in all different shapes and sizes. Straps like the Balam or other harnesses are designed to remove the weight from your neck altogether. Distributing the weight across your shoulders and back allows your airways to stay unrestricted, thus giving you unrestricted playing potential. Be wary that that Balam straps in particular are mostly geared at tenor sax players, so if you are an Alto or Bari player you might need to explore other options like traditional harnesses.

If you want to get something super slick and smart, straps like the Dave Guardala or the Cebullas might be for you. They’re very unassuming, blending nicely with dress blacks or any other smart outfit, but the luxurious leather finish adds a little bit of class to your overall look. An added bonus is that the leather is that little bit more supple than a synthetic material so will be a touch more comfortable around your neck.

Of course, if you want to really stand out, straps like the BG Zen are definitely worth your attention. The massive adjuster both makes a statement as well as helps keep the strap itself level and not cut across your neck too much. Even better is that the BG Zen is available in black, white and red! So whatever your aesthetic, you can stand out with this strap.

Reed Care

When you buy a packet of reeds, they come in a small plastic holder. Which is absolutely fine for making sure you’re not chipping your reeds. But that does nothing in terms of maintaining the life of your reed. You see, over a very short time a reed that is constantly going from moist to not will eventually become very wavy and warped. These warped reeds are much harder to get a response from and require more effort or just getting rid of. 

Throwing away reeds all the time can get very expensive. Especially in this economy. So investing in a humidity controlled case can make all the difference. Some cases require a drop of water being placed in an internal tray, others have a sachet that control the humidity within the case. Kepping your reeds in a much more controlled enironment can keep your reeds longer and save you tons in the long run.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies are the simple, somewhat boring accessories that will ensure your saxophone will stand the test of time. Making sure you are cleaning up after you play will help avoid sticky keys and keep those pads as fresh as possible. The best tool for cleaning out the inside of a saxophone is undoubtedly a pull-through.

Pull-throughs are essentially microfibre clothes with a string and a weight at the end (definitely more complex than that when it comes to the right size string/cloth before you go MacGyvering it). All you need to do is drop the weight down one end of the saxophone, tilt the saxophone so that the weight pops out the other end and then pull the cloth through the saxophone. Super simple.

However, for those keys that always remain shut like your G sharp, C sharp and E flat, you might need to get something else to help you along with the cleaning process. For an immediate fix, powder paper can solve a sticky key during a gig. However, powder paper will leave a residue overtime that can make pads a bit grim, so instead use pad dryers. They do the same thing but as they are a microfibre cloth they do not leave a residue after use.

Finally, if you want to avoid having sticky keys altogether, as well as avoid horrible things like mould developing on your pads and in the horn over time, Key Leaves are the thing for you. Key Leaves are a super simple device that props open those problematic sticky keys by simply propping open the E flat and C sharp (which in turn props open the G sharp) whilst in the case. Super simple and shockingly effective.


Look, there’s only so long you can gig for before getting yourself a stand is a must-do. Popping your saxophone back away in its case every time you come on and off for sound checks etc can really mess with your tuning, and putting the sax on the floor or on a platform sounds like a recipe for disaster. 

When it comes to stands, there are two prevailing ideas: sturdy or minimalist.

The good thing about sturdy stands like any of those in the Hercules range, but especially the DS630BB (the grabby one), is that though they are super reliable and sturdy thanks to their astute engineering, they do fold down quite neatly as well. However, it will still be another accessory that you will have to consider when packing for your gig. So, if you want to go with something a bit less secure but a lot more minimalist and portable, go with a K&M Saxxy stand.

What makes these stands so effective is how small they fold down. They become so compact that they can slip down the end of your sax bell. So, instead of leaving the stand at home or behind once your set has finished, all you have to do is pop the stand down the bell and away you go.


For some of you, getting a sound technician to slap an SM57 in front of you for the gig might be everything you need. However, if you want a bit more flexibility in both how much you can move alongside your outputted sound, a microphone system might be exactly what you need.

If you want an affordable solution, something like the AKG C519 ML wired system could be perfect for you. All you need to do is clip the microphone to the end of your bell and then plug in a micro-XLR into the mic itself through to the PA system. Though you will still be connected via a cable to the desk so you can’t go stage diving into the crowd, you will have more flexibility in where on stage you can place yourself and the fear of not getting heard because you have decided to jig a little whilst playing will be gone.

If you are looking to go completely wireless, the Cloud Vocal systems are an absolute stand out. The microphone itself is not only discrete and easy to affix to the bell of your horn, but has the transmitter for the wireless connection pre-built into the unit rather than being a separate unit. This then sends a signal over to the receiver which can run both with and without phantom power (for you buskers out there, this means you can plug it into a conventional amp) and bingo bango you’re running wirelessly. You can now dance, run around and jump off amp stacks into crowds of people to your heart's content. Please don’t do that though, it will never end as well as you think it will. Trust me.