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I recently took my Selmer MK6 to the repairman. He made a face when he opened up the case, so I guess I should do something about that. He thought it was mildew and said something about an "acid bath". What methods are there for prettying up and de-stinkifying an old tenor sax?

Thank you's
SteveB
 

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Strip it down and rebuild it - and yes, a bath may be in order.

Your case may be a contributing culprit. If mold/mildew is a factor, it is best to toss it. If merely funky smelling, some get good results with Febreeze spray and a few days outside in direct sun.

If the pads are the factor, the best way is to repad the horn - again, with a chem bath.

It may just be crud accumulating in the bore of the neck. When did you last clean the neck? Mouthpiece?

Hygiene matters.



Ewwww...
 

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Normally, it's the case more than the horn. You can try activated charcoal, kitty litter or even coffee grounds. Put the stuff in an open dish. Be careful not to spill any inside the case and close up the case with the stuff inside for about a week.
 

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I still think lighter fluid is the best fix for this problem.
Pour copious amounts into case and follow up with a lit match.
 

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How do you know that it’s not the horn??? Are you smelling something that I’m missing?
OP said tech opened the case and made a face.
I’m going with the odds here that it’s the case.

Take the horn out of your case and leave it on your stand for a few days if you can.
All those tricks (coffee grounds, charcoal, sunlight) won’t work on decades old smell builders if it’s an old old case, the issue is in the wood (again IF it’s an old old case).
I’ve restored cases and the only thing you can do to really eliminate it is strip case down, seal the wood, and rebuild, or, buy a new case.
 

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OP said tech opened the case and made a face.
I’m going with the odds here that it’s the case.

Take the horn out of your case and leave it on your stand for a few days if you can.
All those tricks (coffee grounds, charcoal, sunlight) won’t work on decades old smell builders if it’s an old old case, the issue is in the wood (again IF it’s an old old case).
I’ve restored cases and the only thing you can do to really eliminate it is strip case down, seal the wood, and rebuild, or, buy a new case.
+1

Pads can also "absorb" an odor that's difficult if not impossible to remove. The old fashioned method of detecting leaks by blowing cigar smoke into the sax provided proof of that.
 

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Guessing case as well, which probably imparted some of its stink to the pads and felts. I tried all the normal remedies on a beautiful old rattan covered clarinet case to little effect. I believe ozone and uv have been suggested, though as haven't tried those. I’m of the opinion that once mildew has deeply penetrated the case it’s time to say goodbye. I’d air out the sax and expose to direct sunlight to see if that helps. If not, probably a chem bath and overhaul are in order.
 

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I recently took my Selmer MK6 to the repairman. He made a face when he opened up the case, so I guess I should do something about that. He thought it was mildew and said something about an "acid bath". What methods are there for prettying up and de-stinkifying an old tenor sax?

Thank you's
SteveB
1) disinfect the case (sprays and sunlight MAY work, or if not you can buy those disinfecting lamps (the light bulbs). If those all fail - and I have heard good things about the lamps - then get a new case and keep the old one, just don't use it.

2) Chem bathe and repad your horn - which at that point is moving towards an overhaul, really.
If you just do the chem bath but keep your existing pads, because they are doing OK and performing OK, and improve the case situation...you may get around, I dunno....40% of the odor to go away with just a body/neck chem bath....but no more.

2a) If you really do NOT want a full repad, then the more pads you change out (after the bath), the more the nastiness will be alleviated - for example if you changed out the simpler pads (non-stack except perhaps the G ?) such as the side key pads, F# trill, the low C, C# and Eb, and perhaps the LH palmkeys (all inexpensive candidates since they are 'solo' keys not linked to the regulation of others)....you replace 9 pads which is around 40% or the pads, and that would help significantly without having your wallet take a hit for a full repad.

Something like this...
 

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I put a bar of Irish Spring inside a sock, clean of course, and left it inside the case. After that, outside in the sun. It’s still there but better.
 

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For the horn, metal doesn’t hold the smell, it would be the pads and you need to replace them.

For the case, depends on how bad it is. I tried many things and nothing can work 100%. The smell is absorbed in the linings. Most deodorant spray has a strong smell itself. It ends up cover up or mixed with the smell. When washing clothes, Borax is the best deodorant without smell. I used it to soak clothes with smell before washing. I also tried the ozone light. It has some effect but can’t completely remove the smell. Maybe I gave up too early, if I do it 100 times and it may work. However, I bought a new case and can’t be happier.
 

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Strip it down and rebuild it - and yes, a bath may be in order.

Your case may be a contributing culprit. If mold/mildew is a factor, it is best to toss it. If merely funky smelling, some get good results with Febreeze spray and a few days outside in direct sun.

If the pads are the factor, the best way is to repad the horn - again, with a chem bath.

It may just be crud accumulating in the bore of the neck. When did you last clean the neck? Mouthpiece?

Hygiene matters.



Ewwww...
Agreed - if you’re particularly lazy, a good airing out can really help. Rinse the neck, clean your MPC, wipe everything down, put the sax on a stand in a dry open space and wait a month or so. I did something similar with a very moldy smelling sax I bought and it worked surprisingly well. I was certain it would need a repad. The case was so moldy I had to toss it, but when I finally got around to doing something about the sax, it was in fair shape. The pads are discolored, but everything works well enough that I’ve gigged with it a few times recently and probably won’t have it repadded until they start falling apart.
 

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Easy:

#1. Get rid of the case and get a new one.

#2. Have your tech check the pads; they probably need replacing. If so, have it re-padded.

As to whether it's the case or the horn, it's likely both. The case smells because the pads are old and maybe mildewed. One way to avoid this problem in the future (once you get the new case and the re-pad) is to swab the horn out after playing and then leave it out on the stand, or in the case with the case open, for a few hours so the pads can dry. If you put the horn away in its case for a significant time period it's especially important to make certain it is dry. And did I mention you need a new case?
 

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I put a bar of Irish Spring inside a sock, clean of course, and left it inside the case. After that, outside in the sun. It’s still there but better.
I learned this trick when I bought a horn from a smoker years ago. Works surprisingly well to cover odors.

A new case, thorough cleaning of the horn, and maybe new pads/felts/corks if you want to go all the way. But even then, some odors still linger.
 

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Strange how some assume that it has to be the case.

If the neck and upper end of the body's bore are lined with 0.5mm of bacteriad and fungalated, reach-worthy mouth-lining gunge (that some players blow into their saxes, then that is more likely the source.
(Although case lining can absorb such smells.)
Some players even blow such gunge over the outside of their sax.

Non-metal surfaces can easily absorb smells. That possibly includes the lacquer (if it is lacquered).
Start with sunlight and day if not weeks of airing.
 

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Strange how some assume that it has to be the case.
Of course the smell doesn't originate with the case; as you say, it starts with the horn, then over time, it permeates the case with the horn closed up inside. You have to deal with both the case and the horn.

I only had this problem once, years back, when I left a horn with old pads, that I wasn't playing at the time, closed up inside its case for several months (no doubt I put the horn away with the pads still damp). I tried airing out the case and various other methods mentioned in this thread and none of them worked. Got the horn overhauled and a new case and the problem was solved. Ever since then, I've made certain my horn is dry before closing it up in its case for any length of time and have never had to deal with this issue again.
 
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