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I have a couple vintage saxes that have what is best described as a blue stain in places inside the bell. Is this a part of the natural oxidation process or something more sinister like mold. If it is part of the oxidation process is there a way to remove it or is your advise to just leave it alone-thanks
 

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If you can get your hand inside the bell you can try to wipe it out using a rag dampened with some vinegar.
If not, try running a swab through it... dampened with the vinegar.
 

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bandmommy... Why are you so insistent about this 'rag wetted with' business?? To effectively remove deposits on bare brass, a full contact with vinegar, scrubbed with soft brushes and then ragged away 'is' the best method (lemon juice if you live in a grove)... You can balance a horn or neck and allow a vinegar 'puddle' to sit for minutes or hours... When dealing with red or green or blue/green sax funk, a vinegar wetted rag is a very wimpy/puny address to such... Soak it! Scrub it! Clean it! Play it!
 

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If it works for bandmommy then why not suggest it? theres nothing wrong with using a wetted rag - I have used this method along with others, I havent however "balanced" an instrument to allow a puddle to sit.
The use of the term balance suggests that the sax is not supported and some folk on here, who for a brief moment may lose their common sense, may go away and try balancing thier saxes to clean them - this could end up in a damaged instrument.
 

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bandmommy... Why are you so insistent about this 'rag wetted with' business??
She doesn't appear to be "insistent", just suggesting something.

I think for many people it may be a safer method than soaking. I wouldn't like to risk getting too much lemon juice on my B and Bb pads.

I would certainly take the more cautious approach first. If it didn't work, then I'd do something more belt and braces.
 

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remove the key does not really means he can reach the inside of bell. I would say a picture will be better to help us to provide suggestion to your question.
 

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With the bell keys off you can poke your fingers through the toneholes to clean inside.
 

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I've used the swap/rag method, but it's not as effective as I'd like it to be, plus one of Pete's concerns is true: When pulling the rag through the saxophone, you don't have any way of aiming - you just spread vinegar, and some of it lands on the pads or, worse even, gets caught in the tone hole chimneys (don't know if the term's correct - I sort of translated from German here) and can sit there in small beads. Apart from the smell (imagine breathing vinegar fumes), this is bound to damage the spot - it's corrosive (that's part of the trick - it has to be!). Using lemon juice isn't much better except for the smell - and vinegar is more effective as an acid.

Oh, and don't do this or the following with lacquered horns - you may damage or remove the lacquer and essentially spread the core problem! I do this exclusively on my unlacquered Cannonball. Otherwise, YMMV - you've been warned.

I use cotton pads (the ones used for cosmetics) soaked with a mixture of vinegar and salt (use the finest grain and wait for it to at least partly dissolve - or you may visibly scratch the surface of your horn). The salt seems to act as a catalyser, it speeds up the process and makes it more effective (I tried).

The cotton pads are then placed directly on the spots to treat, sometimes using a stick or something to get them there (if it's on the inside); you can even wrap them around rods and joints or place them on key cups (but avoid touching the leather pads). For smaller, more superficial spots, some minutes of leaving the cotton pads there are usually enough; for bigger spots (a "blue" one sounds like one of those), I leave them on up to one hour (check regularily - you don't want that stuff to be in there any longer than needed). If you're patient and careful enough, you can all but remove the stains. As long as the cotton pads are wet, they stick to the surface they're applied to - another added bonus. But I discourage hard rubbing with the pads - salt crystals are harder than brass.

There's even a method of producing a homogenous paste of white flour (as a base), salt and vinegar. This can be applied very accurately and has the best effect, but I found that to be a bit too messy inside the horn since the paste will flake off when it dries, it's hard to get it all out in the end, and some of the flakes may end up in unwanted places (pads/tone holes again) - that's why I use the pad method exclusively on the inside. Anyhow, the paste is a great way to clean unlacquered brass surfaces. Take a polishing cloth to them afterwards - it's worth it, you can really make them shine.

The procedure described above works for spots and blemishes on both the outside and inside of the horn, from the soft red hue some even like to those hefty blueish green spots with white trim (oxidised copper with nickel oxide here and there - bad, makes the metal brittle!).

Afterwards, I pull first a damp, then a dry cloth through the horn or rub it down with them on the outside in order to get as much of the vinegar and salt off as possible. Again, I don't want to replace one corrosive spot by another.

And wash your hands in the end - the stuff you remove can be at least partly poisonous (which has no effect as long as it's solid, but the cotton bads are soakes with less-than-healthy stuff in the end - visibly so).

M.
 

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bandmommy... Why are you so insistent about this 'rag wetted with' business?? To effectively remove deposits on bare brass, a full contact with vinegar, scrubbed with soft brushes and then ragged away 'is' the best method (lemon juice if you live in a grove)... You can balance a horn or neck and allow a vinegar 'puddle' to sit for minutes or hours... When dealing with red or green or blue/green sax funk, a vinegar wetted rag is a very wimpy/puny address to such... Soak it! Scrub it! Clean it! Play it!
I'm not going to suggest something that 'radical' without first knowing the competence level of the poster. If I were to say "Dump a gallon of vinegar down the bell and let it soak" and it damaged the instrument in any way...
I've got a reputation to uphold here! :twisted:
 

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On the other hand, I have an image of a rag, over-wetted with vinegar, pulled through such that when it gets to a narrower part of the sax, the excess vinegar is squeezed out of the rag, through the tone holes, and all over the mechanism, encouraging the pivots and springs to rust. Not nice!

I think I'd prefer the puddle-in-the-bow methodle, Of course... a carefully poured puddle followed by a rinse or two or three, without getting in a muddle, won't touchle any pad(dle)s.

I can feel another verse of Fox In Sox a-comin' on....
 

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I think that's why I use the term 'dampened' and not 'wet'.
But then again, my version of damp may not be the same as someone elses'.
You once again have proven me to be not so smart Gordon. :)
Thank you for the correction.
 

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OK, OK folks... used the term 'insistent' for Bandmommy because twice in two days on threads relating to horn cleaning, she chimed in with the dampened rag comment... My point is that 'direct contact with acetic acid, vinegar or other' IS a good cleaning method... One can remove the keys, plug the toneholes w/ rubber plugs and 'fill' the horn up with vinegar for good effect, then scrubbing and ragging out can be performed... This is NOT a 'radical' method as suggested by BM...
 

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OK, OK!! I won't make any more suggestions involving rags, vinegar, or other cleaning methods of any kind...
 

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OK, OK!! I won't make any more suggestions involving rags, vinegar, or other cleaning methods of any kind...
Good...what are folks doing to their horns that gets them so funky that they need to waste precious breathing time to defunkify them? Just wipe the horn off when done playing it-paper towels, your shirttail will do....swabbing inside just a waste of time unless you're blowing your dinner through it.
 

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OK, OK!! I won't make any more suggestions involving rags, vinegar, or other cleaning methods of any kind...
What about cleaning floors and stove tops? You know, the stuff a woman is good at? :twisted:
 

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Good...what are folks doing to their horns that gets them so funky that they need to waste precious breathing time to defunkify them? Just wipe the horn off when done playing it-paper towels, your shirttail will do....swabbing inside just a waste of time unless you're blowing your dinner through it.
Well, even doing what you say AND swapping it out didn't prevent the build-up of corrosion/oxidation spots on (and in) the unlacquered Cannonball, so I guess most unlacquered horns will suffer from this occasionally. So it's useful to discuss it. Lacquered and plated horns shouldn't need any such treatment, of course.

M.
 

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"You've got to funkifize..." - T.O.P.
 
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