Saxophone repairman Matt Stohrer of stohrermusic.com demonstrates high quality padwork he has just performed on a vintage SML Rev. D tenor saxophone. HEADPHONES OR GOOD SPEAKERS ARE A MUST- laptop speakers will totally miss the point of this video.
Usually, but not always, you can tell a lot of about the general condition and quality of the padwork on a saxophone by the sound the keys make when fingered without the mouthpiece or neck attached to the instrument. Listen for the drumlike sound these pads make. Music without a mouthpiece!
Another trick is to remove the mouthpiece, insert the neck, and finger low Bb. Put your ear right up to the neck hole and you should be able to hear a note- the instrument when leak-free will act as a bandpass filter and turn your ambient noise (air conditioner, traffic) into a recognizable note.