I just got a new soprano that had been corked for a Dukoff D9. I want to use my Selmer Classic metal E on it, but I can't push the mouthpiece further than halfway down the cork. Is there a way to thin the cork at home, or will I have to have it recorked?
Not too hard to do. What I recommend if your soprano has a removable neck is to find a wooden dowel about 8" long that fits snugly inside the neck tenon. Secure the end of the dowel in a bench vice and secure the neck on it. Use some blue masking tape to wrap behind the cork so if you slip, you don't put scratches in the lacquer. I like to use 1/2" wide strips of emery cloth about 320 grit to shape and remove material from neck corks. Any sandpaper will do if you cut it into 1/2" wide strips. The emery cloth doesn't rip or break as easily as regular strips of sandpaper.
I use a "shoe shine" ragging motion working the North, South, East, West side of the cork equally by turning the neck after each step. Try to keep the shape of the cork cylindrical so the mouthpiece can go all the way to the end if necessary. Do this a little bit at a time because you can always sand more cork off, but you can't put it back on if you go too far. After I fit a cork this way, I sand with 1000 grit to smooth the cork and then heat paraffin wax and apply it to the surface. Some rubs off the first few times you insert the mouthpiece, but it will make the cork last longer and require less cork grease.
Something I forgot to add. If you don't have a vice or a wooden dowel, leave the neck on the saxophone and have a friend hold it steady on a table or desktop while you sand---that is if you have a friend.
I had this same problem just a few days ago. If you like to visually see someone else do it, check this video out: https://youtu.be/S9dlVNSmVVE?t=213 Just some sandpaper required, no other tools needed.
It is only the open end of the cork that is needed for sealing. The rest just stops the mouthpiece from wobbling.
Almost every cork installer leaves the cork conical, following the shape of the neck. This is often largely responsible for making a cork too tight. Sand it cylindrical, or even conical the opposite way.
And after adjusting the fit, use a decent cork grease, such as Alisyn. (Over decades, I've not come across anything better, and most greases do not come close.)
I recommend removing cork grease before sanding, especially if it is a good one. It stops sandpaper from sanding.
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