Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Cheap Fix

User ID: 7001743
Jun 19th 10:10 PM
I have a really old "Acme Master" alto sax that I learned on. As of now, it is padless, cleaner than before, and not adjusted. I was trying to get pads to fix it, but realized it wasn't worth it. However, I seem to need a cheap sax to take traveling. If I could get a makeshift pad going, I'd be ok.

Here's my idea: Use plastic tape and cotton to stuff and cover the keys. Adjust the sax as well as possible using rubber eraser. How bout it?
User ID: 7001743
Jun 20th 7:53 PM
I guess I wasn't specific enough by saying "How bout it?"

I am looking for evaluation, a better idea, criticism, etc. Good idea, bad idea?
mutha potamus
User ID: 2706694
Jun 20th 8:22 PM
I think your best bet is to get the horn repadded & regulated. Any other method will almost certainly be a total waste of time as air leakage will more-than-likely drive you nuts.

User ID: 1404584
Jun 20th 8:24 PM
WARNING - Highly opinionated post! This is merely my opinion.

Do you work for my daughter's school district? They try this sort of wacky stuff to fix their saxophones. It never works. Trying to be cheap has simply rendered the saxophones unplayable.

Basically, if the saxophone is not worth fixing correctly, don't bother. Tape and cotton won't work. Why not use real pads? If the expense of a re-pad is too high, just run a lamp cord through the sax and use it to light your music room.

With the makeshift pads, the toughest problem will be getting a good seal (no leaks). Then you have to worry about the inconsistent action and characteristics of different materials in the "pads". Then what about moisture? Is the tape compatible with brass or will it cause further corrosion and degradation?

The material cost of tape and cotton will be about the same as the material cost of pads, so you really don't save anything. The cost of a re-pad is in the labor not the materials. There will be considerably more labor in getting the makeshift pads to work than the real pads. So I say, "Do it right, or don't do it at all."

An example of the results of this type of work comes to us from South Africa. A mini-bus driver knew his bus needed new brakes. So, he replaced the brake shoes. However, he decided to use cardboard rather than the original style of brake shoes. When he went to stop his brakes failed and his 20-passenger bus collided with another 20-passenger bus sending 18 people to the hospital and injuring all 40 passengers and the two bus drivers.

While a pad failure on your saxophone won't be as drastic it is almost as certain.

Sometimes, being cheap is the most expensive way to fix an instrument.
Bari Martin
User ID: 0952054
Jun 20th 9:44 PM
You should have read what I wrote and canceled. It started "Are you nuts?" Really, just measure each pad cup in mm, and order a set of pads for it (about $25). Buy a cheap glue gun and put the pads in. Get some cork and felt and set it up. This will be a cheap, fun project, and the sax will play.
User ID: 7001743
Jun 21st 11:03 AM
I suppose so. I do have the old pads which are in bad shape. I was able to get some new pads from my middle school music teacher. Even glue and cork(did a really bad cork job). But I can't find anybody to sell me a set of pads so I just gave up and decided to do this. I suppose its not worth it. I do believe that it is a student model and it is in bad shape.
Thanks everybody.
User ID: 1850204
Jun 21st 2:46 PM
Bari, maybe you can get on some sort of government subsidy program for po' musicians;)

Anyhow, shortcuts and improvisational repairs are only advised for on-the-gig disasters; then, anything that works goes.
User ID: 9767833
Jun 21st 6:09 PM
Bari's problem reminds me a documentary I saw on TV a few weeks ago. It was about how people in Cuba manage in their day to day life to have their things repaired. No need to explain why they struggle there. I was very impressed by their smartness. And there was this musician, playing a very old alto saxophone who complained he could not of course purchase any replacement pads for his instrument. So, to overcome this stupid lasting forever US embargo, he explained he came up with the idea to fill the key cups with some cotton, to wrap them up in plastic bags and to tighten the all thing with rubber bands.
His sound was superb, a la Johnny Hodges, really.

Tell me about N---- oversized silver resonators and kangaroo leather pads now.

User ID: 7001743
Jun 21st 7:45 PM
The whole idea came out of the fact that all I need to do is find a way to seal the tone holes. Then, the pitch is adjusted.
User ID: 9223993
Jun 21st 8:37 PM
Bari, these guys will sell you everything you need to repad your horn.
User ID: 7001743
Jul 3rd 11:27 AM
Well, I used plastic sandwich bags and old pads that were really bad, and some new pads. I was able to enhance the action of the horn by bending the springs around and using key oil. Not everything seals properly, so the horn does not play well very fast. I might be able to continue adjusting it. It is playing out of tune. And for some reason I now have a problem with the high d,e flat, e and f.left palm keys I haven't been able to play these on any alto. Might it be my mp? Or the fact that I play bari?