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SEATTLE, December 21, 2018 -- Boeing changed flight, Starbucks changed coffee, and now the Seattle startup Key Leaves is making a name in the music instrument accessories market.

Key Leaves makes small leaf-shape devices that protect saxophones from water damage by leaving the keys open to dry after play sessions; simple enough it deserved a pun, right! Still in its first year, Key Leaves earned “PRODUCT OF THE YEAR” from (a journal dedicated to all things sax geek), grew an international dealer network that most startups don’t enjoy 5 years in, and enjoys passionate endorsements from sax players including Ron Blake (SNL Band / The Juilliard School) and Timothy McAllister (a living legend of the classical saxophone). Educators are also flocking to Key Leaves products to save money on instrument repair and The University of Kentucky outfitted all their saxophones with Key Leaves gear. [watch a funny product review about Key Leaves from a music teacher]

The accessory market for saxophones is tiny compared with demand for Seattle-made planes and software, but school band sales are a serious chunk of the musical instrument (MI) market, and accessories are the coveted niche for reliably high margin year over year.

“We were really lucky that elite sax repair techs and pro shops embraced our products early on. That drew in some great players and got larger stores to take note,” remarked Key Leaves Founder and inventor, Rulon Brown. Canadian mega store Long & McQuade recently started to stock their 80 stores with Key Leaves product, and sax manufacturer Tenor Madness is selling Key Leaves product featuring the Tenor Madness logo.

The big problem solved simply by Key Leaves

All saxophones (and wind instruments) develop sticky key malfunction over time which is a costly and embarrassing problem. The market is filled with gizmos trying to fix the problem but none prevent the sticky biofilm that grows when closed pads trap bacteria and yeast inside the sax. Key Leaves invented a simple way to safely open those closed keys to air dry. The product costs less than $20 and takes just one hand and four seconds to use, so sax players, teachers, repair techs and their pocketbooks are loving it.

For example: The cost to fix a school saxophone is about $50/hr plus parts, and that expense repeats annually or semi-annually because of heavy use in marching band and school band. The cost to replace a school sax is easily $2000+. But for less than an Andrew Jackson, Key Leaves helps reduce costly maintenance and protect instruments that kids need for daily learning.

Key Leaves isn’t just punching beyond its weight in the saxophone market, the company has a fist full of patents that applies to all woodwind instruments (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, etc) and plans to expand their product line.

About PRODUCT OF THE YEAR award from chose Key Leaves sax key props as PRODUCT OF THE YEAR 2018. “Key Leaves, is a wonderful example of how a product can have a positive effect on the saxophone community, regardless of the player’s level of knowledge or experience. They are simple, affordable and useful. Key Leaves upholds all the ideals this award is based upon,” remaked Editor and Sax Professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Paul Haar. previously awarded Key Leaves "OUTSTANDING PRODUCT" designation after field testing the product in the summer heat of humid Nebraska; praising the product as "so simple and effective that I have yet to experience sticky keys since using them." Read Full Review at

About Key Leaves

KEY LEAVES is a Seattle-based family business specializing in woodwind care products that stop sticky key malfunction by leaving keys open to dry clean.  Key Leaves is the brainchild of Seattle sax player Rulon Brown. Before moving to Seattle for a full-ride scholarship to Cornish College of the Arts and becoming a professional musician, Rulon grew up fixing saxophones at The Horn Doctor music store in Alaska. Like all sax players, he ran into the problem of sticky key pads that cause playing malfunction and costly repair. “I got so tired of seeing fellow players struggle with this problem. I knew there had to be a way to fix it.” said Rulon.

When the school bell rings, kids often toss their saxophone into the case without cleaning. So, Key Leaves conducted a disgusting field test to see if their product worked without ever cleaning the sax for an entire year. The test was simple. Two identical saxophones played 200+ hours each without cleaning and only one of them using Key Leaves products. The Key Leaves sax had 98% fewer sticky rotten sax pads!

And the Key Leaves sax never experienced severe stickiness that required prying pads open by hand. “This was meant as an internal test during product development. We had no idea it would work as well as it did. We were happy to discover such a data supported piece of our story.”

See photo comparison, time-lapse video and test results at

Photos available upon request:

Product on saxophone
Product alone
Rulon Brown photo by Renatha Vernon
Product of The Year 2018 - The Saxophonist magazine

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