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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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But that's probably a topic for a different thread.
Here you go:

 

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I am lucky enough to have two S20' Tenors, one a Silversonic that suffers from a sticky G#. The other one while being less than 30 serial numbers apart never suffers from that condition. I find that cleaning the sticky pad does the trick until the next gig / rehearsal etc...

On the whole I try to live by the old adage, "If it ain't broke - don't fix it".
 

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I am lucky enough to have two S20' Tenors, one a Silversonic that suffers from a sticky G#. The other one while being less than 30 serial numbers apart never suffers from that condition. I find that cleaning the sticky pad does the trick until the next gig / rehearsal etc...

On the whole I try to live by the old adage, "If it ain't broke - don't fix it".

The Super 20 & Silversonic have a special problem with the G#

the mechanism has two gliding sledges, the top one moving against the bottom one and gliding on it.
The one at the bottom, normally (and stock) has a cork strip, the top has a small “ ball” protruding which is supposed to help the sliding movement.

After a while the “ ball” digs a grove in the cork and starts a more or less stammering movement. I had it “ hesitating ” ( sorry about all these figures of speech) feeling under the fingers as a “ clik"
a good soluion is to put lots of grease there os even better to put, on top of the cork (or felt) a piece of thin teflon (the problem with it is the kind of glue to use).


this picture belongs to © STEPHEN HOWARD

102959
 

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In addition to a swap, use a piece of filter paper to wipe off individual pads after playing. It only takes about a minute and you very quickly become familiar with the mechanism of the horn. I happen to have some fancier stuff, but coffee filter works just fine. I have sticky low C#, G#, and high F# on A, T, and B, respectively. I leave those with a piece of Yamaha non-stick paper, the same piece for ages. It too works really well.

Oddly, it is only for horns with modern design. Perhaps, it has something to do with excess spring tension.
 
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Outside of mechanical quirks like the one Milandro mentions, it seems most sticky pad situations must be user created. 🤷‍♂️
I do nothing except run a silk swab through the body and neck a couple times before putting away and have no regular/ frequent sticking issues at all. Never have, even when I drank way too much alcohol/ beer while gigging several times a week. I can’t remember ever having a pad stick on my tenor (bought new in 2015), and once in a blue moon the G# sticks on my alto. I’ll run a solvent-dipped q-tip around the pad indent and the rim of the pad cup...I’ve done this perhaps 3-4 times in eight years since buying it very slightly used. Outside of accidentally tearing palm F on my tenor, all pads on both horns are standard brown leather, original, and in great shape. I’ve never had pad sticking problems on any sax I’ve owned...guess I’m just lucky?
 

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Hello,

I know I may be extra careful about my instrument, but it's 82 years old, and I want it to last another 82 or at least not be responsible for much of its natural deterioration, out of respect for the next person who will play it (maybe my kids, one day?).

So, on the recommendation of a member, I've been cutting coffee filter paper and leaving it on the closed tone holes after playing. My alto sax has 11 "closed" tone holes including the octave key (the ones that remain closed when not playing).

When I slide the filters, some immediately absorb moisture, others stay dry. I've also bought powder paper. I've heard of the linen dollar bill also to do that (but I don't have a dollar bill now in Switzerland). Should I leave the filter/paper on? I see Amazon sells "key leaves" that stay on and cover only 2 or 3 of the largest tone holes. But the ones that get the most moisture are the small ones towards the top.

What about the pads of the 12 tone holes that remain open? Should I also do something about them to remove sticky moisture?
If you use coffee filters, the latest scientific evidence shows that brown filters give you a darker sound, while the white ones give the pad more brilliance. These studies were conducted at the University of North South Dakota by the esteemed professor P.D.Q Bach, who is the 2nd cousin of Offenbach. As for using folding money, it is my personal experience that a $100 bill gives you a far richer sound than a shabby single, or five dollar bill. A twenty will do in a pinch, but why not go first class with a 100 dollar bill. It only costs a little more.

If you choose to powder your pads, it is a long standing tradition to use wig powder for classical music, and cocaine for blues or jazz. I have always found that any moisture will evaporate on its own within 24 hours, so why rush what mother nature has done for thousands of years? If you use a swab, it is considered in some gentle circles to be aggressive, and the correct musical terminology for that is Vivace evaporation. Nay, I prefer the way mother nature intended for water to dry, and that is appreciated by saxophone repairman who make a good portion of their living replacing G sharp and low E flat keys. As for key leaves, again, I prefer to go the natural and organic route of using dried leaves from the elm tree. In a pinch, a marijuana leaf may be used, but only for the palm keys, and only in a smokey, jazz club after the third set.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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As for using folding money, it is my personal experience that a $100 bill gives you a far richer sound than a shabby single, or five dollar bill. A twenty will do in a pinch, but why not go first class with a 100 dollar bill. It only costs a little more.
Agree. That's why I always keep one of these in my case:



It's illegal to own and a real insurance headache, but the sound is worth it.
 

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I was having G# sticking problems plus kissing noises from the left hand keys, especially the palm keys. I cleaned the pads with lighter fluid on a swab, but it usually came back right away. I do swab out after every practice. So I changed the G# pad and it went away for quite a while. I would even insert my swab under the key to capture any moisture.

So I broke down and bought the $6 spit-sponge (not worth it given the coffee filter approach)- but it is so floppy that it takes me forever (5+ min) to blot all the pads after each practice. I've been looking for a more firm fabric to use to speed things up. So when I read that many of you don't bother to blot your pads I wonder if that kissing noise is acceptable to you. I can't stand it. I've replaced those pads and the kissing is gone, but I still blot them.
My horns stay dry and odor free with this daily care, but I wonder if a padsaver would be just as effective. I've read about some padsavers leaving fibers in the horn though. Is this true?
 

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The spit sponge is a bit floppy but it still takes me less than a minute to do all the closed keys. Try kitchen paper, use a fresh piece each time, I reckon it's just as good.
 

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I was having G# sticking problems plus kissing noises from the left hand keys, especially the palm keys. I cleaned the pads with lighter fluid on a swab, but it usually came back right away. I do swab out after every practice. So I changed the G# pad and it went away for quite a while. I would even insert my swab under the key to capture any moisture.

So I broke down and bought the $6 spit-sponge (not worth it given the coffee filter approach)- but it is so floppy that it takes me forever (5+ min) to blot all the pads after each practice. I've been looking for a more firm fabric to use to speed things up. So when I read that many of you don't bother to blot your pads I wonder if that kissing noise is acceptable to you. I can't stand it. I've replaced those pads and the kissing is gone, but I still blot them.
My horns stay dry and odor free with this daily care, but I wonder if a padsaver would be just as effective. I've read about some padsavers leaving fibers in the horn though. Is this true?
I wouldn’t be happy with a kissing noise either. I’ve been subbing with the community band the past 5-6 weeks and the guy I sit six feet away from on my left at practice is constantly dealing with a sticky G# and bis Bb (folded bills) and he has this “kissing” noise you speak of. He also swabs and uses a pad saver at the end. The other three sax players don’t seem to have much issue with theirs, at least not at rehearsal.
The deal with pad savers is getting one that doesn’t shed fibers. The fibers that come loose can stick to the pads or tone holes/ rims and cause slight leaks. If the sponge isn’t the right thing for you, maybe kitchen paper (paper towel?) as JimD mentioned would be more useful. Again just make sure to grab a brand that doesn’t shed fibers...you’d actually be leaving excess moisture behind if you used a brand that leaves particles behind. I clean airbnb properties since gigs went away and there’s some brands of paper towels that leave a lot of fibers behind...I hate having to wash windows and mirrors twice 🤣
 

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My horns stay dry and odor free with this daily care, but I wonder if a padsaver would be just as effective. I've read about some padsavers leaving fibers in the horn though. Is this true?
I use the H.W. Padsaver - no loose fibers. Ever (in a couple decades). Yes, I have seen some of the cheap knockoffs that shed like a husky in the summer.
 

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I clean the reed and mouthpiece, swab the neck out, put a dollar bill under the G# key, shove a pad saver in the horn, close the case, and move on to the next gig.

It might not be the best way to do it, and there is more than one right way to do almost anything, but it's worked for me for many decades.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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I was having G# sticking problems plus kissing noises from the left hand keys, especially the palm keys. I cleaned the pads with lighter fluid on a swab, but it usually came back right away. I do swab out after every practice. So I changed the G# pad and it went away for quite a while. I would even insert my swab under the key to capture any moisture.

So I broke down and bought the $6 spit-sponge (not worth it given the coffee filter approach)- but it is so floppy that it takes me forever (5+ min) to blot all the pads after each practice. I've been looking for a more firm fabric to use to speed things up. So when I read that many of you don't bother to blot your pads I wonder if that kissing noise is acceptable to you. I can't stand it. I've replaced those pads and the kissing is gone, but I still blot them.
I find that, unless you remove the key from the horn first, applying naptha using a dollar bill works better than using a swab or q-tip. However, the most important thing, in my experience, is letting the horn dry outside of its case. I almost always store my horns on their stands at home and I rarely have persistent issues with sticky keys. However, when I've occasionally left my horn in its case overnight (after a late night gig or rehearsal), I invariably wind up with some sticky keys despite the fact that I always swab the horn before putting it away.
 

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@mmichel - I leave the horn on a stand in my office all the time since I don't take it anywhere and no little ones around to mess with it :-( But I'm ot sure how you described using Naptha to clean the pad. It sounds like you hold the key(pad) in one hand and a dollar bill moistened with naptha in the other and wipe the pad? Did I get that right? I like cleaning the rim of the tonehole at the same time and the swab seems to work well cleaning the pad and rim. This will releive the kissing noises for quite a while.
But I was taken by surprise when my G# key would occasionally open a half second later than my finger press, given that I take so much care to dry each pad. (Yeah, I dry even the open ones so that's why it takes me so long I guess). The wettest are the palm keys, side keys and Eb..

I dry both octave pads too. I'm thinking that I should just replace them since they have always made the kissing sound now matter how much I cleaned them.
So maybe I'll try just drying the closed ones. I use a chamois leather swab - a small one for the mouthpiece and neck, and a larger one for the horn itself. It's dry with 2 passes each and ready to play on my stand anytime. (The spit-sponge still bugs me so maybe I'll try kitchen paper (is that parchment paper that bakers use?)

Thanks for all the suggestions - my cleaning regimen may have just gotten quicker.

FWIW: I sometimes rinse but always dry my legere reed too. I don't put it back on the mpc though because I find I need to wet it to get a good seal on the table.
 

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Bart - That sounds like you just need to replace the pads. That would bug the heck out of me. When you say you clean them with a swab, are you actually getting all the accumulated Stuff out of the crease in the pad? Are the tone holes clean inside and out? If that's all good, then I suggest that your pads may be too clean and dried out. When my pads used to get like that, I would apply Runyon Pad Dope to recondition the leather and make it somewhat waterproof. Your description reminds me of my old leather running shoes. All that naptha may have removed the natural oils from the leather.

G'luck!
 

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@mmichel - I leave the horn on a stand in my office all the time since I don't take it anywhere and no little ones around to mess with it :-( But I'm ot sure how you described using Naptha to clean the pad. It sounds like you hold the key(pad) in one hand and a dollar bill moistened with naptha in the other and wipe the pad? Did I get that right? I like cleaning the rim of the tonehole at the same time and the swab seems to work well cleaning the pad and rim.
No, I may have phrased it confusingly because I was referring to two different possible processes:
  1. If I'm taking the horn apart (fully or partially), then I'll use napth on a medical swab (like a one-ended Qtip with a wooden stem) to carefully and separately clean the rim of the tonehole and the corresponding depression in the skin of the pad.
  2. If I'm cleaning the assembled horn (which is what I'd be doing most of the time), then I pour a little naptha onto a dollar bill, stick it (naptha-soaked side toward the pad) in between the pad and the tone hole, press the key closed and drag it out. This is basically the same way most people use dollar bills to clean pads; I just soak mine with naptha first.
In rare cases where I have a persistently sticky pad, I'll stick a piece of very fine (3000 grit) sandpaper face down onto the tonehole and pull it through once, with very light pressure closing the key. In my experience, this always gets rid of any residual stickiness.
 

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Ever since I've committed to swabbing out my horn after playing and also using Key Leaves I haven't had a single sticky pad.
 

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Next time my G key sticks, I'll try @mmichel suggestion of naptha on a dollar bill, maybe some printer paper. I've had good luck with the swab on the pad and rim, but I haven't been playing for a little over a week since my 2nd covid shot. Just took the wind outta my sails for a bit.
Just checked my horn and it's not sticking or making noise, but the pip makes a big kissing noise. Since I have the pad, I'll probably replace it. It's clean and looks good but it could be separated on the inside. I'll get back to it soon.
Cheers everyone.
 

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Same experience with the key leaves: no more sticking on an alto and tenor that both were having issues prior to that, despite careful swabbing and airing out and proper spring tension. I’ve cut down some wine corks for my soprano to make wedges that do the same thing—solved the problem there, too.
 
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